Regardless of its predominantly negative connotations, an increasing number of people have started using the dark web to keep their online activity hidden.

According to research, North America is the most active region globally in this part of the internet. More than 30 percent of North Americans have used the deep web regularly during 2019.

The dark web represents a network of untraceable online activity and websites on the internet that cannot be found using search engines. Accessing them depends upon specific software, configurations, or authorization.

The 2019 survey showed that North America is the leading region in daily usage of the dark web. The statistics indicate that 26 percent of North Americans admitted using the dark web daily. Another 7 percent of them accessed the deep net at least once a week.

Latin Americans ranked second on this list, with 21 percent of respondents visiting the dark web every day and 13 percent weekly. With 17 percent of citizens utilizing it every day, Europe took third place on the global deep net usage list. Another 11 percent of Europeans admitted to doing so at least once a week.

The 2019 data showed online anonymity was by far the most common reason globally for accessing the Tor and the dark web. Nearly 40 percent of respondents used the deep net during the last year to stay anonymous. Another 26 percent of them claimed to use it to retrieve the usually unavailable content in their location. This reason is more ordinary in Middle Eastern, African, and BRICS countries. Other reasons include overcoming governmental censorships and protecting online privacy.

Nearly 25 percent of North Americans used the hidden web in 2019 to ensure their privacy from foreign governments. Another 38 percent of them named protecting the privacy from the internet companies as the leading reason for using the deep web.

The recent surveys revealed some interesting facts about the reasons why people don’t use technologies like Tor to access the dark web. Nearly 50 percent of respondents globally stated that it is because they don’t know how to, while 45 percent of them have no reason for doing so. One in ten citizens views these technologies as unreliable, and only 13 percent of them appear to be concerned about perceptions that it is used by criminals.

 [Source: This article was published in - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Published in Deep Web

Almost a third of North Americans accessed the Dark Web daily in 2019

Despite the Dark Web's mostly negative connotation, new research from has revealed that over 30 percent of North Americans used it regularly during 2019.

Last year saw an increasing number of people beginning to use the Dark Web as a means of keeping their online activity hidden from governments and telecoms.

The Dark Web itself is made up of websites on the internet that cannot be found through traditional search engines. Instead users must rely on specific software such as the Tor browser, configurations or authorization to access these sites.'s 2019 survey show that North America is the leading region when it comes to daily usage of the Dark Web. The firm's findings revealed that 26 percent of North Americans admitted to using the Dark Web daily while another seven percent accessed it at least once a week.

Dark Web usage

North American may have taken the top spot in terms of Dark Web usage but Latin America was not far behind at second on's list with 21 percent of respondents saying they visit the deep net daily while thirteen percent said they did so weekly. Europe took third place with 17 percent of citizens utilizing the Dark Web daily and additional 11 percent accessing it at least once a week.

The 2019 survey showed that online anonymity was by far the most common reason for users to access the Dark Web. Almost 40 percent of respondents used it during the last year to stay anonymous online and 26 percent said they used it to retrieve content unavailable in their location despite the fact that using a VPN would be far easier.

Nearly 25 percent of North Americans used the Dark Web to ensure their privacy from foreign governments and another 38 percent used it to protect their privacy from internet companies.

Of those surveyed who don't use Tor or access the Dark Web, almost 50 percent of respondents globally stated that they didn't because they don't know how to while 45 percent said they had no reason for doing so.

[Source: This article was published in By Anthony Spadafora - Uploaded by the Association Member: Rene Meyer]

Published in Deep Web

Youngsters are using social media and streaming content without supervision

NEARLY half of six-year-olds surf the web alone in their bedrooms, shock research shows.

The youngsters are now as internet savvy as ten-year-olds were in 2013.

Forty-four per cent are browsing the internet, on social media and streaming without adult supervision.

A study for Internet Matters to mark Thursday’s Safer Internet Day found a third of six-year-olds also use WhatsApp — despite its minimum age limit of 16.

A quarter are now on social media, up from 19 per cent in 2013, and three in five use sites such as YouTube.

A quarter of six-year-olds are on social media

A quarter of six-year-olds are on social media

Six year olds are using Facebook and Whatsapp despite the 16 age limit

Six year olds are using Facebook and Whatsapp despite the 16 age limit

Some even upload their own videos, according to the survey of 1,500 parents.

Almost half of six-year-olds can download apps and 47 per cent regularly use services such as iPlayer and Netflix.

Carolyn Bunting, of Internet Matters, said: “It’s vital for parents to set up devices safely and understand risks involved.”

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos added: “Parents need to set boundaries and arm children with the tools to stay safe online.

Parents need to set boundaries with their kids’ internet use

Parents need to set boundaries with their kids’ internet use

“Issues that a six-year-old may encounter can range from stranger danger to viewing inappropriate content such as violence or pornography.

“It’s vital you have parental controls in place and to ensure the websites and apps they are using are suitable for their age group.”

Internet safety checklist for young children

  • Agree boundaries
    Be clear what your child can and can’t do online – where they can use the internet, how much time they can spend online, the sites they can visit and the type of information they can share.
  • Explore together
    The best way to find out what your child is doing online is to ask them to tell you about what they do and what sites they like to visit.
  • Put yourself in control
    Install parental controls on your home broadband and any internet-enabled devices.
  • Use airplane mode
    Use airplane mode on your devices when your child is using them so they can’t make any unapproved purchases or interact with anyone online without your knowledge.
  • Stay involved
    Encourage them to use their tech devices in a communal area like the lounge or kitchen so you can keep an eye on them.
  • Talk to siblings
    It’s also a good idea to talk to any older children about what they’re doing online and what they show to younger children.
  • Search safely
    Use safe search engines such as Swiggle or Kids-search. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines, as well as YouTube.
  • Check if it’s suitable
    The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child.

Author : JEN PHARO

Source :

Published in Internet Search

HONGKONG: Outsiders are often told that doing business in China is unique. Winston Ma brings a fresh and eye-opening perspective to that platitude in "China's Mobile Economy". But his timely guide to the fascinating forces powering the country's tech sector plays down the difficulties faced by foreign groups.

The author, a managing director at sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation, is a corporate lawyer turned investment banker who has worked in both the United States and China. A Chinese native, Ma provides valuable insights into what makes the country's 620 million mobile web consumers tick - and the array of corporate titans, startups, and investors vying for their attention. Collectively, they make up China's booming "mobile economy".

For those familiar with Western tech trends, this is alien territory. One of the first peculiarities Ma highlights is Singles' Day, a distinctly Chinese phenomenon. Every Nov. 11, e-commerce behemoth Alibaba hosts a 24-hour online shopping extravaganza of unprecedented proportions, accompanied by a glitzy gala which has in the past featured stars from Daniel Craig to Adam Lambert. It is the "single most important day each year for online vendors to target young, tech-savvy consumers who are accustomed to buying online", Ma states. On the most recent Singles' Day, transactions on the group's platforms topped a whopping $18 billion, with $5 billion changing hands in the first hour alone.

Ma's analysis of Chinese consumers, makes for the book's most interesting parts. "Social engagement and purchasing behaviour are so intertwined in China that Chinese customers tend to seek friends' input before they make shopping decisions", he points out. That helps explain the rise of WeChat, the popular Chinese chat app and social network owned by gaming giant Tencent. Though it's often compared to Facebook's WhatsApp, this ignores the fact that WeChat enables users to shop online, pay bills and play games, among other things. It has become an indispensable part of and powerful force in China's mobile internet.

The ultimate prize for Tencent and its rivals, however, is creating a seamless platform that links customers to goods, services, experiences and entertainment in the physical world. Alibaba, Tencent and search engine Baidu - collectively known as the BAT trio - are expanding their digital empires to include so-called "online to offline" services like taxi bookings and restaurant deals, movies and TV shows, as well as financial services and payments. It is here where Chinese companies are exploring innovations that diverge significantly from Western counterparts Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Ma's analysis of the resulting investment frenzy is less compelling. He points out that investors are concerned with companies touting cash-burning subsidies, unsustainable business models, and frothy valuations. But he stops short of addressing the risks and follies of over-expansion.

The book touts LeEco, known for its video-streaming platform and TV sets, as an example of a company combining hardware and content. It doesn't mention, however, that the group is facing a cash shortage after charging into electric cars, sports media, movie production, cloud computing, and smartphones. Shares of LeEco's listed arm have slumped some 40 percent in the past year. Similarly, rival Xiaomi, the $45 billion smartphone maker, has pushed ahead into content, software, as well as smart home devices ranging from rice cookers to air purifiers. The company recently admitted it expanded too fast. In a letter to employees, the group's chief executive acknowledged the need to slow down.

Ma's discussion of foreign tech groups in China also has some shortcomings. It's true that Amazon, eBay, and more recently Uber China lost out to local rivals in the grab for market share. But the book leaves out the difficulties that other companies have faced even getting a foot in the door: Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat and Twitter are just a few examples of apps that are blocked in China.

For many outsiders, China's mobile economy will be too big to ignore. Despite regulatory hurdles, foreign investment restrictions, censorship, intellectual property concerns and anti-trust scrutiny, groups like Facebook are still pushing ahead. The social network led by Mark Zuckerberg has even developed a censorship tool to appease China's regulators, the New York Times reported in November. And home-rental startup Airbnb, last valued at $30 billion, has been striking local partnerships and working closely with regulators, its chief financial officer told Bloomberg in December.

It's clear that the stakes and opportunities in China's mobile internet are immense. So are the challenges and risks - particularly for outsiders.

Source :

Published in Internet Privacy

In a few years, when we're all hurtling down highways in our self-driving cars and wearing virtual reality goggles, we'll need more high speed internet options.

AT&T (TTech30) on Tuesday said it's planning ahead for our gigabyte-hungry future with a new technology that sends high speed internet over power lines.


Called Project AirGig, the experimental system places low-cost plastic antennas along existing power grids to deliver low-cost, multi-gigabyte internet. So far, the company has tested the system on its own campuses. It hopes to do a field test next year to see how feasible, fast and affordable it really is.

What makes the AirGig setup unique is how it uses existing infrastructure to keep costs low.

"You don't have to lay any fiber, you don't have to touch anything, other than get some of these devices up on the wires," said AT&T chief Strategy Officer John Donovan.

This is not the first time a tech company has tried to marry internet and power lines, called Broadband over Power Lines (BPL). Earlier attempts have failed due to lagging speeds and interference issues. AT&T's take is different because it doesn't send signals through the lines.

AirGig's inexpensive plastic devices aren't actually tapping into the power at all. Instead, their wireless signals hitch a ride along the outside of the medium voltage lines, "clinging" to the wire to speed along to their destination. It also keeps prices down by using license-free spectrum.The company said the tech is still in the early phases, and that a public deployment wouldn't happen until 2019 or 2020 at the earliest.The company said the coming demand for internet-gobbling technologies like video, virtual reality, telemedicine, and automated vehicles will require new internet options. Specifically, we'll need to "leapfrog" current tech to keep pace with consumption.

Source : money.cnn

Published in Internet Technology

The future of the internet is at risk from multiple scenarios, and quick action is needed to protect it, says the Internet Governance Commission.The internet has reached a crossroads in its history, and concerted and immediate action is needed to preserve the openness, transparency, security and inclusivity that have made it such an important factor in global social and economic improvement over the past two and a half decades.

This was the key conclusion of the Global Commission on Internet Governance’s final report and recommendations on the future of the internet, One Internet, which was released at the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy in Mexico.Set up two years ago, the commission was chaired by former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, and included among its members Wendy Hall, professor of electronics and computer science at the University of Southampton.

Speaking to Computer Weekly at the time of the commission’s launch in 2014, Hall said the internet was finely balanced between “controlled spaces” and “utter anarchy”, and an international approach to governance was vital, hence her decision to join the commission.

“We need to understand what we can expect when it comes to companies and governments accessing our data. The founders of the internet didn’t set it up for governments to gather data on us – that was never the intention, and we must explore this,” she said.

In the wake of the commission’s final report, Hall said the fundamental question that now had to be answered is how to meet the governance challenges the internet creates, without undermining those aspects that make it a powerful platform for social and economic growth around the world.

“The choice of not making a choice is, in itself, a choice – one that could lead to harsh consequences. We risk a world where the internet is closed, insecure and untrustworthy – a world of digital haves and have-nots,” said Hall.

“The action outlined by the report must be taken soon so that we can create an environment of broad, unprecedented progress where everyone can benefit from the power of the internet.”

Bildt added: “The threats to privacy and the risk that the internet will break apart are real.”

“If we want a future where the internet continues to provide opportunities for economic growth, free expression, political equality and social justice then governments, civil society and the private sector must actively choose that future and take the necessary steps to achieve it,” he said.

Recommendations for governments and companies

The One Internet report contained a number of recommendations for both national governments and IT companies.Among the most important of these recommendations are that governments should only intercept, collect and analyse communications data for legitimate, open and legal purposes, which does not include gaining a domestic political advantage, industrial espionage or repression.

Governments should not force the industry to compromise the security of their products through hidden backdoors, and should refrain from making companies their enforcement arms.It also suggested the private sector act to establish a system of transparency reporting that showed what content was being restricted or blocked by state-level actors, and why.

National governments should also collaborate to provide mutual assistance to deter and limit the damage inflicted by cyber attacks, and refuse shelter to those who commission or carry them out. Governments should also collaborate to create a list of off-limits targets.

When it came to the online security of the general public, the commission recommended consumers be free to choose what services they use and be given greater say in how their personal data was used by these services.It added that no user should be excluded from using an online service on the basis that they were worried about their security.

For industry, the commission recommended that the developers of new technologies ensure their creations remain compatible and open standards-based. It also suggested innovators ensure their creations conform to principles of openness to provide a platform for future innovators.

The commission also set out goals around ensuring the internet was as inclusive as possible, saying governments should act to provide public access where possible, do more to improve digital literacy through education in schools and ensure accessibility to disabled people and others more likely to be excluded.

Importantly, the report also suggested that refugees – of whom there are now 65.3 million in the world, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) – be provided with access to the internet by host governments, NGOs, or a combination of both.

It added that the IT sector needed to come together with both governments and wider society to help understand the effects of online algorithms on what content is made available to users online.

Finally, it said, the process of international, multi-stakeholder internet governance should be open to evolution to ensure the ongoing presence of a single, unified internet.“The internet is the most important infrastructure in the world. It is the world’s most powerful engine for social and economic growth. To realise its full potential, the internet of the future must be open, secure, trustworthy and accessible to all,” said Hall.

“The commission has built a roadmap towards ensuring the future of the internet. If the roadmap is adopted, the internet will continue to be civilisation’s most important infrastructure. If the roadmap is ignored, the internet’s power to build a better world will erode. The time to choose is now.”


Published in Internet Privacy


CANCUN, Mexico, June 22 (Xinhua) -- With the goal of securing an open Internet, which can be used with freedom, security, trust and accessibility by all, governments, companies and civil society must come together to craft a new governance model for the web, global experts have agreed.

During the 2016 Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy, which is taking place this week in the Mexican town of Cancun, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is presenting the final report of its Global Commission on Internet Governance.

The report, crafted by a group of experts from every part of the world, has the mission of finding a way for the Internet to remain inclusive and secure.

"The Internet is at a crossroad. Threats to privacy and other risks that may bring the Internet down are real," Carl Bildt, president of the commission, said at a press conference Wednesday.

Bildt, who is the former prime minister of Switzerland, believes that the Internet can have a future where it provides economic opportunities, boosts freedom of expression, improves political equality and guarantees social justice.

"For this to happen, governments, civil society and the private sector must actively promote this future, and consequently, take the right steps to reach it," he added.The main risks identified by the report are access to essential information services being under threat, people believing the Internet is not safe, and aging technology needing an upgrade.

If these are not addressed, "the Internet could lose its capacity to drive innovation and many of the advances and benefits we have seen in the last two decades could be eliminated."Alongside Bildt, Jose Angel Gurria, the OECD secretary-general, said that "trust is crucial in the digital economy. The Internet is the best tool to bring people together."

According to the report, "a new social pact is needed for Internet governance ... where fundamental human rights, such as privacy and freedom of speech, are protected online."Bildt said that access to the Internet is another challenge, since over half of the world's population has no access to the Internet.

"We run the risk of a world of two halves, with those who have access to the Internet and those who have none. The consequences of this could be catastrophic. If the Internet is not properly managed ... it could lead to a fracture that could cause serious harm to global economic development," noted the Swiss expert.

Alongside this initiative, the OECD is focusing on the development of information and communications technologies (ICT) and the creation of related opportunities for young people.

The report shows that the percentage of professionals working in ICT is at an average of over 3 percent in OECD countries. Some positive statistics have emerged, with 95 percent of companies having access to broadband, 76 percent having websites, and 22 percent use the cloud. However, only 21 percent of companies offer online sales.

In terms of security, the commission states that governments must work together to halt cybernetic attacks.

The report also advocates that consumers must have the freedom to choose the services they wish to use and for "free service providers" to treat their customers' data with more respect before selling them for commercial use.

"Due to their impact on public opinion, governments, civil society and the private sector must unite to understand the effects of ... publicly available data," added Bildt.

Finally, he noted that "there must be a continuous evolution in the governance of an open Internet, with multiple and broad-based participation, in order to guarantee the existence of a unified global Internet." Enditem



Published in Online Research

Imagine you are launching a startup and you require speedy internet access for you and your customers. Imagine you are one of the customers.

Now imagine speed that is not quite up to snuff to the Amazons and Netflix of the world — your would-be competitors. You’d quickly go under. And those consumers? Color them frustrated because they’ve been denied choice.

Preventing that is the promise of a 2-1 ruling recently by a federal appeals court for net neutrality, the concept that broadband service companies shouldn’t be able to create slow lanes and fast lanes based on ability to pay. Tech giants such as Amazon and Netflix have supported net neutrality.

Of course, that’s not how those representing broadband providers characterize the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. They say the ruling for net neutrality will stymie innovation because it won’t encourage improved connections.

No; just as likely, more competitors for internet services will enter the field and they will provide innovation — and a level playing field in which the consumer benefits because of more choices. If this ruling stands, broadband companies won’t be able to divide those dependent on the internet into haves and have-nots.

This case pitted the Federal Communications Commission against those representing the broadband companies, which were clearly hungry for the ability to be high-cost gatekeepers.

The latest ruling is premised on the notion that the internet is more public utility than a mere conveyance for cat and puppy videos. It is more than an information provider, what the broadband companies argued in successfully challenging net neutrality earlier. If the ruling stands, the federal government can regulate the pipeline to encourage equal access for everyone.

It’s hard to argue with the concept. Whether for work or play, imagine your broadband service even clunkier — as in slower — than it is today.

Those opposing net neutrality have pledged to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And there is no reason not to believe them. This is why this ruling still offers but a promise of net neutrality.

But it is a promise that portends a level playing field for businesses and consumers. We hope the Supreme Court sees this as clearly.


Published in Online Research

When the grandees of the global advertising industry met in the south of France earlier this week for the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, they had much to feel good about.

Global ad spending is expected to reach $600 billion US by the end of next year, according to eMarketer, and grow at an annual rate of about five per cent until the end of the decade. Much of that growth is being fuelled by digital advertising, particularly on mobile devices.

But there was one session in Cannes where some very dark clouds managed to intrude on the sunny forecast. It was a panel devoted to the current scourge of the digital advertising industry — ad blocking

According to a report by PageFair and Adobe, more than 200 million people worldwide have downloaded software that can block virtually all online advertising.

The number of people blocking ads increased by more than 40 per cent last year, and it is estimated that blocking cost cash-starved publishers more than $22 billion last year.So it's not surprising that just about any time advertisers and publishers get together these days, the question of what to do about ad blocking is usually high on the agenda.

The panel at Cannes was hosted by Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who has made no secret of his contempt for ad blockers.At an IAB meeting in January, he described ad blocking as "an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in the flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism."

skip this ad

White lists

The source of the ad industry's outrage is the ad blockers' practice of "white listing." Publishers and advertisers can pay an ad blocking company to have their ads appear on a user's page, even if the user has paid to have ads blocked.

The ad blockers defend the practice by arguing they only allow ads they deem to be "acceptable," but Kate Kaye, who writes about digital marketing for AdAge, isn't buying it.

"If I'm a consumer and I've downloaded that thing I might be a little bit off-put by the fact that someone can pay to have the technology that I downloaded actually not work," Kaye said in a recent interview.

"I think it's analogous somewhat to mafia protection pay. It's like we're going to create a threat and then we're going to ask you to pay us to not threaten you."Almost everyone in the ad industry acknowledges that most of the wounds that have led to the rise in ad blocking are self-inflicted.

Advertisers got greedy by assaulting users with too many low quality, untargeted ads, too many auto play videos, too much click bait.Last fall, the IAB launched an initiative called L.E.A.N. Ads (light, encrypted, ad choice supported, non-invasive).

The IAB hopes that by following the L.E.A.N. guidelines, advertisers will create ads that consumers will be happy to see.

apple laptop

Playing hardball

But improving the user experience is not the only weapon in the arsenal. Some high-end publishers are playing hardball with readers who have installed ad blockers.

Sites like Forbes and GQ won't allow access to their content unless users turn them off. At Cannes, Mark Thompson, the president and CEO of the New York Times, announced that his newspaper would soon be offering an ad-free edition to subscribers at a premium price.

Other publishers are appealing to their readers' sense of fairness and justice, asking them to turn off their blockers and reminding them they are a critical part of the ecosystem that has powered the internet for the past 20 years. Without ads, there would be no free content online.

But Jess Greenwood of the New York ad agency R/GA doubts the effectiveness of appealing to users' better nature."Given the option to do the right thing or the free thing," Greenwood told the panel at Cannes, "consumers will always choose the free thing."


Native advertising

But the most effective strategy to counter the ad blocking surge might be to produce ads that don't look like ads at all.

So-called "native advertising" has been growing in popularity over the past several years. Also known as "sponsored content," it looks and feels like editorial content, but it comes from advertisers rather than journalists.

Native advertisements can often pass through ad blocking filters because the filters don't recognize it as advertising. Many readers seem to be prefer this kind of content over traditional advertising, provided it's properly labeled, although there's no consensus on what constitutes proper labeling.

"The web can go"

But the real victims of the ad blocking surge may not be advertisers and publishers, but the "free" web itself.

The money to pay for content has to come from somewhere, and if you take advertising revenue out of the equation, readers will have to pick up the slack themselves, something they have historically been reluctant to do. Without ads, the web may be a poorer and less interesting place.

It's hard to blame anyone for wanting to opt out of the increasingly unpleasant experience of surfing an over-commercialized web, the consequences of those actions have perhaps not been fully realized.

"Things like the web can go," argues Johnny Ryan, author of the book, The History of the Internet and the Digital Future.

"It came from somewhere. It's a fragile thing. It's supported by advertising and if we don't fix it, it won't be around for that much longer."


Published in Online Research

I will never forget the first time I logged onto the Internet.

I was in 4th grade. My dad sat me down in front of his brand new see-through blue iMac G3 and clicked on a tiny AOL icon. A screen appeared asking for a login and password.

"I made you an e-mail address," he said while my eyes scanned the screen. I had already explored the worlds of Pokémon on my Gameboy and Mortal Kombat on Nintendo64, but this seemed like something so much more.

"What's my e-mail address?" I asked, my hands already reaching for the keyboard.

"This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.," he said. My nickname in hockey was "magnet" because I was incapable of playing my designated role on the ice. I went where the puck went, like a magnet.

From that fateful day onward, I have been a child of the Internet. This is where I was raised.

I laughed hysterically at videos on eBaum's World like "Here Is The Earth." I listened in awe as kids in my 5th grade class proclaimed they had found web sites with topless women. I spent hours reading forums with video game hacks and secret codes. I never once went to the library for a research project, instead always reverting to Google. I would sneak downstairs to the computer in the middle of the night and practically have a heart attack when AOL would start back up, the volume of the computer maxed out, sending a screeching sound all throughout my house as I connected to the Internet.

I learned how to read on the Internet. I learned how to write on the Internet. I learned how to sell things on the Internet. I learned how to forge meaningful relationships (through the World of Warcraft and chat programs like AIM) on the Internet. I watched everyday people rise to fame on the Internet. I was exposed to art I never would have seen, information I never would have learned, stories I never would have heard, people I never would have met, and ways of life I never would have considered--all because of the Internet.

And then I watched advertisements slowly clutter my favorite websites. I watched big brands buy up and take over. I watched the government step in and try to regulate our free world. And most of all, I watched this vast and distant world I considered to be a second reality slowly take over the primary.

I have watched this thing we call "The Internet" infiltrate real life, so much so that we no longer know the difference.

As someone who has, by every definition, truly "grown up on the Internet," I want to remind you of what's real and what's not. When I was 17 years old, I was e-famous through the World of Warcraft. I had more people reading my blog every single day than most professional New York Times columnists. I learned how to build a personal brand before I knew how to properly fill out a college application. And I also learned, at a very young age that on the Internet, perception is reality--and that can be both extremely powerful and extremely dangerous.

This is my open letter to "us Millennials," the demographic that has been labeled everything from lazy and over-privileged, to forward-thinking and naturally creative.

I want us to be aware of just how rare of time period we have been born into. We are the only generation that, quite literally, is the same age as the Internet. When the Internet was an infant, so were we. When the Internet hit adolescence, so did we. When the Internet went off to college, so did we. And when people started taking the Internet seriously, we graduated, stepped out into the real world, and suddenly people started taking us seriously, too.

The generation after us, they don't have this. The first toy their hands ever touched was an iPad. The generation before us didn't have this. To them, the Internet is still primarily a confusing place of which they have very little inherent knowledge. We are the only generation that has experienced life before the Internet ruled everything, but at the same time, can speak the language fluently.

That is a tremendous gift.

But I'll be honest, I think we've forgotten that.

When I log into Instagram, I see wannabe role models that I know personally, who don't have a clue what they want to do with their lives, preaching how to find "that one thing you love most in life." I open up Facebook and see people who are in no way masters of their craft selling courses on that craft. I see ad after ad of a guy standing in front of a Ferrari trying to tell me that a seven figure passive income is easily attainable in just 3 Easy Steps. I open Snapchat and watch gorgeous girls pout at the camera with this untouchable look in their eyes, and then I talk to these same girls in real life and hear them confess how insecure they are. I go to YouTube and watch guys talk about how they are shredded at seven percent body fat and "all natural," and then I go train with them they confess they just say that to market themselves.

All these things are besides the point.

What I want to talk about instead is how this distorted reality makes us feel.

And a lot of us feel like failures.

Twenty-three, 24, 25, 26 years old, a few years out of college, and the overwhelming question is, "Why aren't I a millionaire yet?" We look at what we see on the Internet and wonder why we don't have a camera crew following us around too. We wonder where our gold watches are, where our Ferrari is, when our vacation to Bali will come.

Here's what I want to say:

If you want that to be your reality, you can create it. That's the power of the Internet, and I'll be the first to advocate for that. If you want to be an influencer in your field, go partner up and collaborate with other influencers. If you want to be a thought leader, hang with the thought leaders. If you want to motivate people, go create motivational content. If you want to teach people, go create really cool stuff that teaches people.

But just like our relationship with the Internet, don't forget the life that exists outside the Internet. Don't forget that what you're portraying, you should also be living yourself.

It's our choice. We can either use the Internet and all its tools to actually create things of value, or we can fall into the dangerous trap of trying to create the perception of something that is in no way true. We have been given an invaluable opportunity here as Millennials. We are, like the Internet, old enough to be taken seriously, old enough to start companies and create movements, old enough to create true change.

But also, like the Internet, we are still comparatively young and reckless. We have just stepped out on our own in the world. We know what we know really well, while at the same time, we're not entirely aware yet of what it is we don't know.

This recklessness is what gives us the naive confidence to do great things, like create sustainable foods or find new sources of energy or invent social media platforms that connect people all over the world.

And it is also the very thing that can quickly cause us to spiral out of control.

So, to all my creatives, all my aspiring entrepreneurs, all my peers and those of us with the demographic title of "Millennial": I'd like to remind you that the author of this article, an Inc. columnist, a published writer, an editor-in-chief, is also a 25-year-old boy who just loves to write, and is writing this sitting at a coffee shop wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. The air conditioning is turned on too high. My cup of coffee is empty. The girl next to me keeps coughing and I really hope she doesn't get me sick. The girl opposite me keeps making weird faces at her laptop, which makes me wonder what she's working on. The couple two tables away seem to be on a first date and are doing their best to conceal their nerves. The man who owns the coffee shop is British and listening to him talk to customers is amazing--"Aaaand what'llya be havin'?"

This is our reality.

My description and expression of it is extended into this article, shared on the Internet.

Let's all express ourselves.

But let's also not forget where that expression comes from.


Published in Online Research
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