by Kelsey McDonald

Can this really be the age of information? In the prime of blogs, vlogs and angry status updates, how much “information” are we really getting?

The Internet has become such an accessible option for most any task, and we take its easy availability for granted in the maximum amount of ways. Computers can be utilized most anywhere, from public libraries to private homes, and with a click of a button, one can be connected to millions of different websites and pages. There are websites for research, shopping, bill-paying, social networking and purchasing music. However, the majority of people worldwide forget that all of these jobs can be completed in person.

Personal websites, specifically, are the biggest offenders of the obstruction of actual human contact. Protests, strikes and sit-ins or walk-outs have all become unnecessary due to the invention of the “blog,” a combination of the words in the phrase “web log.” Dictionary.com defines a blog as “a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page.” Blogs can be accessed anywhere, from social networking sites like MySpace, to websites specifically designed to host blogs exclusively. Now, I am not advocating that we all turn off our computers and get right to work on our protest signs; I do acknowledge that blogs alert more people to your cause. Chiefly, this fact is because blogs can reach every corner of the globe. Although, hasn’t anyone ever heard of the ripple in the pond? By starting small, your cause or argument is allowed to gain momentum and reach many people by word-of-mouth, with each advocate adding his or her own passionate flair to the next, and so on until almost everyone is aware of what you are trying to do.

And let us not exclude the status updates. These limited-character “updates” are much like blogs in the respect that many social networking sites host them, as well as sites that host them exclusively, such as Twitter. Status updates are even worse than blogs, you can just fire off one after the other out of anger or giddiness, and, often, this constant nagging at everyone else’s attention gets annoying. If something is so important, get out and make a fuss! No one wants to be a victim of a cyber-rant. It  just seems inane.

A perfect example is the case of Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the Minister of State for External Affairs for the Indian government. The New York Times website reports that Tharoor posted a Twitter update reading, “Dilemma of our age. Tough visa restrictions in hope of btr [better] security or openness & liberality to encourage tourism & goodwill? I prefer latter.” This update was in response to the Indian government wanting to tighten visa restrictions in order to cut down on terrorism in India. However, Tharoor’s update caused him much grief, as he received ridicule from the Indian government to the United Nations. Some Indian officials even recommended his resignation from office.

I applaud Tharoor’s pluck in voicing his opinion even if it differed from the views of the Indian government. It shows a step in the right direction by reaching out to Twitter followers, their numbers reaching over half a million. However, what would have happened if he started by reaching out to his people and ruffling the feathers of the Indian government in their own nest?