Is the Internet the devil’s workshop?


“The world is too much with us,” the poet William Wordsworth said a couple of hundred years ago. He was reflecting on the Industrial Revolution, but his observation seems all the more relevant today.

Our lives have been rewired by a new revolution in the form of the Internet, and it has not only brought the world more upon us; it could also be said we are too much with the world.

Such is the conclusion Ashesh Mukherjee advances in his book The Internet Trap.

The benefits of the Internet are plain to see, says Professor Mukherjee. It’s easier to find information, goods and services, and each other.

But beware the costs. The fact is the Internet offers too many temptations and too much information, turning it into a time-consuming distraction and making choice difficult. It permits us to refine our tastes and opinions so acutely that we lose sight of other points of view entering an echo chamber of like-minded people. It prompts constant comparison with others, creating feelings of envy or inadequacy. And all of this comes with a large sacrifice of privacy.

To be aware of these dangers is to be able to do something about them. One of the strengths of Professor Mukherjee’s book is that it describes the steps we can take to lessen the negative impact of the Internet.

“The Internet will be our workshop and playground in the 21st century,” he notes. Will it be the devil’s workshop or a creative playground?