Debate: The internet has done more harm than good

Good afternoon, my name is Bill Myers and I am here to argue for the motion, “the internet has done more harm than good.”

As I stand here before you, I notice that there are a lot of students in the room who are twitching nervously as they try to deal with the fact that they haven’t sent a snap or checked their Facebook in at least three minutes.

And that’s my first point today. As a generation the internet is to blame for our addiction to electronic devices and social media. How often have you looked at a group of young people standing together and noticed that they are staring at their phones?

Previous stereotypes of teenagers painted a picture of dangerous groups lurking on street corners in a menacing fashion. The only danger the present today is to themselves, as they walk in front of cars and into poles, oblivious to the outside world, enthralled by what their friends have just eaten for breakfast.

However, if that was the only danger that the internet presented my argument would be pretty weak. Unfortunately this is not the case. The internet is as dangerous as the war torn streets of Syria. That may sound like hyperbole but both places put lives in danger and all of you sitting in front of me know the danger I speak of.

Cyber-bullying is one of the most dangerous aspects of the internet and there is not a county in Ireland or a country in the developed world that has not been touched suicide, suicide caused by the internet.

Our own county has had its fair share of tragedies as a result of cyber-bullying and that people will still argue that the internet is the greatest invention of the modern era. How would you feel if it was your brother, sister, cousin or friend? Would you still think that the internet is great?

IN 1991, the Berlin wall fell to the ground signalling an end to tyranny and injustice, marking a significant step for equality and banishing prejudice, racism and xenophobia. Many thought that the world was advancing that we were becoming more tolerant, able to live side by side with those of different colour, creed, sexuality and nationality. Then along came the internet.

The internet has become a breeding ground for racists, xenophobes and homophobes. And like vermin that infest buildings, these people are infesting our society with hate and the internet gives them a platform to air their despicable views.

The KKK disappeared in America as it wasn’t socially acceptable to air their views in public but now the internet has allowed them back out of the closet and their views are infiltrating the minds of the general public. Just look at the issues that dominated the last American presidential election, hell, just look at who they elected. If the Berlin wall signalled a new era of equality, what does Trump’s proposed wall stand for? I think you know the answer and I think you also know Trump would never have been elected without the internet. If that’s not an argument to banish internet, I don’t know what is.

But look at the advantages in education I hear you cry. Well if the internet was actually used for educational purposes I would concede this point. The technology we have on our phones is similar to the technology that send Neil Armstrong to the moon, yet we use it to look at videos of cats and send pictures of our latest hairstyles. So the question is, is the internet educational or does it stop us learning? How often have you went to your room to study and ended up spending hours online doing nothing? Yeah me too.

Another negative aspect of the internet is that today’s children are paying the price for our fascination with technology. Kids can’t hold pens as they are too used to swiping tablets, kids are becoming more and more obese due to the fact that instead of playing with their friends outside, they’re inside glued to a screen.

This also leads to social exclusion. The paradox of the internet is that it gives us more and more ways of communicating, yet we talk less and have one of the highest rates of depression in the developed world. And this leads me to my next point; depression.

Who doesn’t feel bad when they check their Instagram and Facebook accounts and see ‘perfect’ people staring back at them? Those mature enough to know that these pictures have been photo shopped are fine, but spare a thought for the kid who looks at these and says to themselves, “why can’t I be like that?” And that’s what’s happening across the world. It’s no coincidence that these same people are being targeted by advertisers offering diet pills, miracle creams and all sorts of ‘health’ products which will help them achieve the ‘perfect’ look.

People have died because of this. Yeah the internet is great.

To conclude, I want all of you to think about what the internet has done for you. I’m sure there are positives in your life brought about by the internet but are they worth the negatives?

The internet has given oxygen to racism, xenophobia, homophobia and made the world a more narcissistic place. Do you really think that the internet is great? I think it has done more harm than good and if you look deep down, you know that too.

Questions:

  1. How does the writer employ the elements of speech writing in his speech? Explain your answer with detailed reference to the speech.
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