• Wednesday, Sep 22, 2021
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OP-ED: Is the internet robbing our minds?

  • Published at 08:00 pm June 4th, 2021
(Cyber) safety first BIGSTOCK
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Has this technology made us better off?


Cyber-attacks could be demonic in nature and lead to pandemonium. Crimes in cyberspace are not the ones we watch being committed in the streets of our localities. One striking feature of cybercrimes is that we can’t see the criminals, we feel them; and when the crimes are committed, we bear the brunt.

Any industry that has been sophisticatedly digitized is now susceptible to internet crimes. Recent attacks on fuel pipelines, airliners, and the meat industry are good examples. The attackers demand ransoms after the attack.

The nature of cybercrimes in Bangladesh may seem limited to stealing money, individual information, harassing women, extorting sexually, and gambling online. 

At the industrial level, telecoms and banks are at high risk of cybercrimes. If we carefully look at the cybersecurity mechanisms of various commercial entities, we would be amazed to know about the extent of efforts they put into defending themselves and their customers from the cyber attackers.

Apart from individual efforts in the business world, the government is also continuing with its own national efforts and strategies in order to prevent all these crimes.

It goes further than what we see and feel. There are many crimes we don’t feel because we consider them a way of life in an all-encompassing digital dream world. We are happy to see that many things are happening in our lives with just simple clicks. We, however, fail to comprehend the hidden impact that may change our lives negatively.

Cybercrimes take place when we have access to the internet. The technology has, indeed, facilitated various positive impacts in terms of lifestyle, economic advancement, etc. However, without bias, I feel I can evaluate my own life in terms of both positive and negative impacts that the internet has put forth.

Yes, we can talk to our children face-to-face every day who live in faraway lands, complete our financial needs in a matter of a second, purchase everything online, watch movies, listen to educational documentaries online, meet new people, seek medical advice, etc.

However, the unfortunate aspect is that it has led to a remoteness between me and my partner ats well as close friends. The internet has given birth to thousands of platforms that have separated the well-knit communities and created billions of lonely travellers. 

We have become captives of hollow cocoons called social media that have made us extremely antisocial. And funnily, we are happy about this unfortunate fact.

The internet has also stolen our focus. Made us multi-taskers. We tend to believe that multi-tasking has come as a boon. It has pushed us into a realm of billions of pieces of information that we cannot remember after consuming them.  

There has been a cultural push-change in our psychological sphere. We have become hooked on devices connected to the internet. Parents these days feed their children with a screen moving in front of their eyes, otherwise they don’t eat.

When the children grow up a bit, they start playing many online games. The screens that they play on are pregnant with many alluring lifestyle advertisements posted by business entities. This is being done by the businesses in order to create a pool of future customers. And for that, they have targeted the children to wash their brains since childhood.

In many instances, the promoters display drugs in the form of food items, food items that may lead to obesity and cancer, and hi-tech sex toys.

The games also lead to a build-up of destructive psychology among the children. Take Free Fire, for example. There are millions such as this. 

One needs to kill, in the games, anything that stands in the way. Killing becomes a normal aspect in a child’s psyche. S/he doesn’t consider killing a crime any more. And it’s not the children alone; anybody who is hooked on this lifestyle is seen to acquire this kind of psychological state.

The youth gangs across the country are proof of this fact. We haven’t seen teenage people so violent in our history. Yes, we did have fights during football and other games on the field, but that didn’t lead to fatalities. Now, the conflicts are fatal.

So, you see; the internet that has created so-called facilities have started to rob our minds, our own ability to think and evaluate, alluring us to enter a world that may be dangerous for us. We are becoming slaves of tools that may lead to unhappiness without us knowing it.

I once wrote a piece in DT on how we can use the internet for our life’s benefit. Unfortunately, in a few years, my own understanding about the internet has changed.

We now know that human trafficking, especially the trafficking of women, and drug-peddling through social media platforms such as Facebook and Tiktok are commonplace. However, we don’t know how serious the situation is. The net looks like an infinite space with no adequate control over it.

We did create cyber-police to prevent these crimes, but I don’t think those are enough. The capabilities of the criminals are much more than that of our enforcers. We ourselves, in our excitement to become digital, knowingly or unknowingly, have presented many platforms as gifts to the criminals that presently they are using as tools for crimes. There’s hardly any proper investment in cybercrime prevention.

We can’t deny the fact that the internet and the world it has created have become tools of deception. We can appear what we are not with the help of the internet. We have created more deceivers than achievers across the world.

Many studies suggest that all future crimes will be related to cyberspace. Even warfare.

I am sad. Sad because I had expected the internet to play a magnificent role in the lives of the common people. For me, it has come as the best university in the universe, but most have not been told how they can improve their lives by using this technology. Sad because I see the internet not being properly utilized. I have a question mark on the improvement in our knowledge-gathering. Are we better off as far as our knowledge is concerned?

I doubt that. 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works can be accessed on ekramkabir.com.

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