The Aging Internet


There is an inevitable point of gentrification that every community is either moving towards or already has passed.  New York City was and still is a wonderful city, the best city in the world many say, but there is no arguing that the New York of today is anything like the New York that became so beloved by the world.

Las Vegas has seen the same movement towards gentrification that New York City had experienced, and continues to steadily move in the direction of family-friendly entertainment.  Vegas used to be seedy, dark, literally run by mobsters, an adult wonderland where gambling, drugs, booze, and sex were easily found by anyone who took a few minutes to search.  Now the city is a shadow of its former self.  Sure, you can still find a night full of mistakes and regrets, but that is no longer the reason people flock to the desert town.  The glitz and glam has been replaced with comfort and luxury, and no, they aren’t the same thing.


I have noticed the trade of “what made us great” to “family fun” in one community of which I am a huge part, the internet.  Now, I know you are chomping at the bit, scrolling to the bottom of the article, and preparing to call me a hipster in the comments, but I don’t think you can truly deny the aging process’ progress.  Is it a bad thing?  Maybe, but I’m not fully convinced one way or the other.

I remember still being quite young and living at home when home internet first became readily available.  Back then I would use the internet for anything possible  (how could I not?  It was like magic), but would usually come back with mixed results.  Most websites were confusing, convoluted, and far from user friendly.  Somehow I found my way through the web and grew up in the generation of information and internet (not without a few scarring finds).  That time of cautious treading seems to only exist in the past now as my young cousins, ages 6 and 7, are not only allowed to freely roam the web, but are more proficient than many adults.

I know what you’re thinking, children being able to use it doesn’t constitute aging, in fact it literally means the Girls at Laptopopposite.  That is true, but with the high rate of child usage comes a child safe internet.  There are thousands upon thousands of websites created specifically for children ranging in everything from news, gaming, nutrition, and paranormal theories.  The amount of information placed into a child-friendly format is great for educational purposes, but it does signify the moving in of the literal meaning of aging, the elderly.

Many elderly people who refused to learn how to use technology that exceeded what they had in their prime are now lost in the real world.  Simple tasks such as paying bills, looking up a phone number, or asking for directions are done through the internet, something which they have limited experience with.  Now, with child-like websites flooding the world wide web, the elderly attach themselves to the simple UI and layout of pages, those pages in turn get more hits, more views equals more money, more money gives way to more sites.  That route is of course simplified, but it is the essence of the internet becoming user friendly.

A user friendly internet is not a bad thing.  In fact, I think having an easy to navigate and utilize internet is fantastic!  But I do think that in this new age of users we are losing something within the internet community.  We are losing our “insider” view.  The web is losing the glitz and glam that attracted many too it and forced innovation and growth in the web.  Movements like SOPA and PIPA, although important in some cases, are being forced upon the users of the world and attempting to take away a little more of what’s left of the old internet.  The process is in motion, the domino effect was started long ago, but many of us continue to fight the inevitable.  I know that I will keep fighting, my love for an open internet is deep, but will the next generation of youth and elders care enough to take a stand?  I hope so.  I know that the gentrification of the online world is coming, I don’t think there’s any way to keep it from happening, but I don’t want something I love so much to change.  At least not in my life time.

Do you think the internet is changing for the better or for the worse?

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3 thoughts on “The Aging Internet

  1. kitchenmudge says:

    Is “gentrification” really the word you want to use here? That means pricing poor people out of the neighborhood. I don’t really see that happening directly, as devices get cheaper and there’s free wifi in many public places.

    You’re using an analogy with some of the side effects of neighborhood gentrification, such as “safety”, cleanliness, etc.

    But there is a kind of “gentrification” that you haven’t mentioned. In the struggle to monetize the web, you pay with your time, viewing unwanted ads, for anything that’s “free”. It sucks up more of your bandwidth and system resources, requiring the purchase of beefier hardware and faster connections. The poor will have more of their time wasted. That’s gentrification.

  2. beingserbian says:

    I like the point about the older people now getting lost in the real world because the Internet has changed the way human beings used to function in it. It seems to me that we now live in an age of everything being catered to the very young, from music and movies to literature and even politics.

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