Well, certainly the cost of computers and smartphones adds up, not to mention endless peripherals and what you have to pay to your internet provider on a regular basis. In truth, we scarcely notice this, it's just another machine for house and life, and another bill to pay like gas or electricity.
Certainly many may worry about the dangers of online banking, and fear the relentless cybercriminals who seek other people's money from phishing and other ruthless online tactics. We check our accounts to see that there has been no sudden, drastic drop in our balances. In truth, there is also some reason to fear the opposite, namely an expected increase in our liquidity. This may sound great, indeed free money, but of course whoever put it there accidentally will certainly want it back. Of course anyone monitoring your balance may want you to explain where the money came from too.
At another level cybercriminals have expanded into extortion and blackmail, as we saw in the recent David Beckham story. Hackers gained access to compromising private emails from his publicity agency and threatened to release them unless he handed over a million Euros to them. Beckham refused, and went to the police instead.
While there was certainly some embarrassment suffered from the emails being released, these were private communications, and Beckham's gutsy response may be admired. What we should worry about are the potential consequences of important people with less courage – and to be fair, also those with more at stake – who are placed in a similar situation and give in to unthinkable demands.
Internet trolls are another ongoing problem, taking curmudgeonly behaviour and magnifying it into psychological warfare. Social media are for the most part benign entities and allow for near infinite connections, but some, especially young people, are highly susceptible to negative attention. Too many sad stories wash up in the media about teenagers suffering from the evil work of trolls.
Certainly we enjoy countless benefits from our digital universe, tools and entertainment, connections and quick access- the list is very long. There is certainly no turning back, any more than most of us would give up our microwave ovens for a return to cooking over an open fire on a daily basis. We may, however, dream of ever faster processing speeds, downloads and greater bandwidth, but let's not forget the perceptions of Ivan Toffler, who coined the terms 'future shock' and 'information overload'. The future may be bright, but we are all getting overloaded.
Gregory Edwards, Tutor at OISE London
Gregory has been teaching English for many years. Originally from Canada, he has made his home in the UK, although he also spent some time teaching in Libya. With a previous career in the banking industry, he specialises in teaching English in this area as well as finance, oil and gas, and culture and the arts. He is a published writer of several books on art and poetry and this gives him a unique insight into the importance of language development for students.