The Pew Research Center reported in January that 87 percent of the American public uses the Internet. But the Internet is not just something for Americans. Thirty-four percent of the world also finds its way online.
Companies like Facebook are aiming to bring Internet access to countries without it, looking to fix the so-called "digital divide,” National Geographic reported. And, the social network actually just launched an app in Zambia for that same reason.
But we sometimes forget what it is like to live in a pre-Internet age. Much of what we do now is different because of our ability to log onto the Web and be instantaneously connected to the rest of the world.
Here are 10 ways our lives have changed since logging online:
We're connecting with people across the world more easily.
The way we view friendships has surely evolved. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow us to connect with people who, in a pre-Internet age, we might not have known about. Sure, people have an average of 350 Facebook friends, according to a study from Statista, but how many of those friends would they keep up with and speak to if Facebook wasn’t there to act as the middle man?
We're receiving college degrees from the comfort of our own homes.
Going to class is a thing of the past for some. Online classes are the new thing, having jumped up in attendance by 96 percent over the last five years, Campus Technology reported. But more than that, a study by SRI International for the Department of Education found that those in online classes tend to do better than those who are in physical classrooms.
We're less patient.
The Internet can bring us information, entertainment and insight in a flash, although waiting time does vary. But is the quickness killing our patience? Discovery looked into this question and found that our society is no longer patient with things, which could have an outlasting effect on our growth and progression.
“Technology is reducing our wait, removing the need for patience. Sometimes, however, the results can range from embarrassing to devastating,” Discovery reported.
We're reading the news — everywhere.
The way people get their news has changed significantly with the rise of the Internet. In 2012, for example, the Pew Research Center reported that 50 percent of Americans got their news from an online source. And in 2014, the American Press Institute found that almost 70 percent get their news from a laptop or computer, more than 50 percent get their news from a cellphone and just under 30 percent get their news from a tablet — all of which are digital platforms. News is no longer something people have on paper.
We're finding more love online.
One of the biggest things to change in the age of the Internet is the dating scene. The Boston Globe reported this week that 31 percent of people met their last date online, opposed to the 25 percent who met their last date with help of a friend and the 6 percent who met someone at a bar. People are becoming more and more comfortable logging in to find love, rather than finding someone in their actual physical life.
“If (singles) are only dating people offline, they are not opening themselves up to all the opportunities that are out there,” Julia Spira, digital matchmaker, told the Boston Globe.
We're locating our favorite movies and music more easily.
You can stream almost anything online now. Music is available from Spotify, iTunes or Pandora. Movies are available from Netflix. TV is good to find through Hulu. All these forms of entertainment are available in convient ways online, and people are going for it. Facebook reported that 17.5 million people are using Spotify for their music streaming — 6 million of whom are paying for the service. Netflix, the online movie and TV show streaming app, is actually getting more revenue than HBO, a cable network station.
We're using apps to increase our productivity.
Trying to keep track of your faith? Want to make sure you’ve got the right tip for your waiter? There are apps aplenty available through your local smartphone app store thanks to the Internet. And for the 60 percent of Americans with a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, keeping track of daily life and using apps for everyday tasks isn’t too bad of a thing.
We're skipping the lines at department and grocery stores.
There’s no shortage of online shopping avenues anymore. And people are realizing it, as 80 percent of people using the Internet have used it to buy something, according to a report by CPC Strategy. You can buy pretty much anything on Amazon, or even find convenient items that can be shipped to your store through WalMart. Need groceries? There are stores willing to bring your groceries to you.
We're letting our creativity show.
Writers, artists and other creative types are finding a lot of use for the Internet. Some writers have had their books published through e-publishers, skyrocketing them into the top-level tiers of fame. Others have started blogs, Tumblr accounts and online business through websites like Etsy to get their material out there and connect to an audience.
We're watching sports online.
Though live sports are still a pretty popular thing, the way people watch sports has changed a great deal because of the Internet. And it’s a growing trend. Young people, according to the Global Sports Forum, are more likely to watch sports online than on TV. This has led to places like ESPN, FOX and NBC all start their own online sports streaming websites.