The Internet Continues To Impress 25 Years After Launch Date [COLUMN]

Happy Birthday, Internet!

That’s right, the World Wide Web has turned 25, a major milestone in tech history. It may seem like the Internet has been around much longer than a quarter century, but in fact, I don’t think I can truly remember the world without the Web.

So, in honor of its 25th birthday, I’ve compiled my personal list of the 25 things I love about the Internet.

25. Inspiration. It’s only fitting I start off this list with a shout-out to the TODAY show online, because without the Internet and their site, I wouldn’t have this idea.

24. It’s also only fitting for me to include a shameless plug as my next entry on this list. But the Web has provided us a small way to make a big difference.

23. Memes, GIFs and viral content. The Internet is notorious for launching certain random things into the limelight. And to be perfectly honest, my life was made better, however minimally, by Rebecca Black, funny cat videos and the like.

22. The Cloud. You know, the virtual one. I’m especially grateful for such mystical data collection centers, because I’m writing this draft on Google Docs right now, confident that all of my hard work won’t just disappear (I hope.)

21. Fundraising. Consider all of the innovations and good work such sites like Kickstarter are funding every day. But fancy startups aside, the Internet gives anyone a platform for pitching their cause and finding support.

20. Travel. From buying airline tickets to Google-street-viewing, the Internet and its GPS capabilities save the day every time on the road.

19. Online dating. OK, OK, I haven’t tried it out yet; I’m barely in my 20s. But I’m comforted to know that there are sites like Match and eHarmony to help fix me up when I’m much older and just a little more desperate.

18. Online shopping. I’m not a big shopper, but I use the Internet like no other when it comes to all of my purchasing needs. Whether it’s a birthday gift or an emergency makeup order, I’m always trolling the Web for good prices and new products.

17. Online banking. This is greatest thing since sliced bread. It has never been easier to check my account balance and watch my spending, especially with all of that online shopping I’m doing…

16. Customization. You can download anything online these days: fonts, wall stickers, open software, 3D printing templates. The Internet truly puts power into our hands. We even have a choice of Web browsers at our disposal.

15. Celebrity stalking. I’m just going to tell it to you like it is. The Internet makes monitoring all of our favorite famous people much more accessible. And I’m totally fine with that.

14. 24/7 news. You might be surprised why, for a journalist, this is middle-of-the-road on my list. But that’s because the Internet created a monster with the endless news cycle. I love being in the know at all times about the world’s happenings, but this makes my life as a reporter endlessly difficult.

13. On demand everything. News deserves its own separate category, but what think of the other media we have at our fingertips: music, movies, books, photos. We have adopted a “I want it now” mentality, and I don’t hate it.

12. Crowdsourcing. This isn’t just for journalism. The Internet allows for nearly immediate feedback on anything. There are ample opportunities to ask for ideas, get suggestions, hear other viewpoints or simply take a poll on the Web, and I find that fascinating.

11. Niche sites. There is literally a community for anybody on the Web. I love that the Internet is so inclusive and really helps everyone find an online home of their own.

10. Answers. I am a curious person, and I relish in the Web’s instantaneousness. There is no question the Internet cannot answer when I can simply research with the click of some keys.

9. Self-help. You can take this to mean the serious personal changes that are aided by the Internet, like finding medical advice, or the light-hearted but totally necessary life improvements, such as perfecting the fishtail braid. Both count.

8. Working from home. I have plenty of days where getting out of my pajamas is just not going to happen. But I don’t have plenty of days that I can take off. We can all thank the Internet for letting us write that paper or finish that report while still in bed.

7. Learning. Aside from the fact that you can actually get a degree entirely on the Internet now, the World Wide Web promotes continuous education. Whether you choose to learn about the sub-genres of house music or the inner workings of the human heart, you’re still enriching your mind.

6. Amazon. I don’t need to explain the usefulness of this Godsend. I am always surprised about what exactly I can have shipped to my door from this seemingly infinite portal of products.

5. Wikipedia. I was taught how to properly use an encyclopedia in elementary school. Now, I don’t feel I truly understand a topic without the extensive background Wikipedia provides.

4. Blogging. The World Wide Web provides writers with a wealth of resources to publish their own work, and that is unprecedented. In fact, this could be said for artists in general… the Internet is a bottomless pit of amateur content just waiting to make it big.

3. Email. My world revolves around emailing. It is second nature to almost everyone nowadays to be in touch with everyone you know at all times, whether you prefer Gmail or Skype or Facebook chat.

2. Google. Enough said. How else would we navigate the Web? The only reason this fantastic search engine didn’t make the top of my list is because of…

1. Social media. Who isn’t on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… pick your poison, really. I love the instant connectability that the Internet provides, and I’m more than slightly obsessed with oversharing online.