In recent years, the Internet has enjoyed unprecedented success for its open, transparent, and collaborative model, and the rapidly growing Internet is known as an irreplaceable product. The development of the Internet connects the life of people. It combines the whole world and makes information about people transparent and straightforward. However, the development of the Internet still lacks diversity to a large extent, and this lack of diversity refers to the fact that the focus and orientation of people in the Internet world have become singular. This essay will discuss how the lack of diversity on the Internet affects social and personal development in terms of economics, race, and gender.
The Internet lacks economic diversity
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With the rapid development of the Internet, the Internet economy has also become progressively stronger through the influence of digital platforms. The Internet economy is conducted through the digital space, which allows global markets to trade through the Internet. Although the Internet economy is cheap to operate and does not require excessive social resources, it still significantly impacts society and individuals. As the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (2019) indicates, although the marketplace has changed dramatically with the help of the Internet’s digital platforms, the community has yet to reflect significantly on the impact and consequences of the digital platform business model on competition, consumers, and community. Since the Internet is primarily a platform economy, this can easily lead to platform monopolies. For example, giant companies nowadays, such as Alibaba, Amazon, and Google. They are involved and occupy most of the segments of the Internet economy, which is not conducive to full and free market competition and is harmful to the development of society. According to research, the survival rate of newborn companies worldwide is on a long-term downward trend. While 40% of Internet platforms launched in 2006 were active five years later, only more than 3% of those established in 2015 are happening today (McCarthy, 2022). This is because giant companies can acquire or bundle features from early innovators into their platforms. The Internet economy has reduced labor costs while creating employment problems. The actual economy has suffered a severe blow through this Internet economy business operation model. This has also led to a significant increase in the percentage of the unemployed population and exacerbated the divide between the rich and the poor. This reflects the Internet economy limiting individual development. Even though Facebook or other dominant digital media have not yet acquired other smaller platforms in the market, giant corporations are disrupting their online and offline businesses that compete for advertising revenue. Therefore, the lack of economic diversity on the Internet harms the development of the Internet, society, and individuals.
The Internet lacks racial diversity
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Racial equality has always been a critical topic of concern for society. With the rapid growth of the Internet, people have different views on race. Some believe that the Internet can reduce or eliminate the racial discrimination that persons of color usually economize on in offline environments by providing opportunities for people to be openly racist through Internet platforms, but this does not have many social consequences. Since Internet platforms are anonymous, all speakers are masked. In this free space of discourse, Internet users can present their thoughts without fear. This makes racial issues intensify with the development of the Internet. According to Pesce’s research (2021), the Internet has taken over the internal space of the mind, resulting in peoples’ thoughts being taken over by the Internet. This means that when racist content appears on platforms, people’s minds are influenced by this content to hold prejudice against people of color. While the Internet allows people to speak independently, these platforms may not bring the correct values to users. Racists use this feature of hidden websites to spread misinformation about the history and culture of certain racial groups. For example, “martinlutherking.org” was created to disparage Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement while appearing to be a legitimate website (Tynes, 2015). Discriminators usually make nasty remarks about people of color through online social media platforms. In addition, search engines also have problems with racism. For example, when one types gorilla into a search engine, Google Photos appears to be black people (Day, 2016). When people search for “women” through Google images, most results are pictures of thin white women, followed by Asian and black girls. This leads to personal attacks by others on races other than white. More people define “white” as a standard to criticize those of color, which is unsuitable for social and personal development. Therefore, the Internet lacks racial diversity, and platforms remain biased against people of color.
The Internet lacks gender diversity
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Besides racial issues, gender equality is also a popular social issue to discuss. The society publishes gender equality issues through new media platforms to enable society to construct a consensus on gender equality. The topic of gender equality is extensively mainstreamed into decision-making. However, gender bias still exists in the Internet platform. For example, when users type in keywords such as “women should” in search engines, Google’s autocompleting function will make a series of surprising suggestions, including “women should not have rights,” “women should not work” and “women should stay at home” (Taube, 2013). These keywords also reinforce gender stereotypes that women should stay at home and take care of children and that women should not have any rights. The deepening of gender stereotypes has led more people to believe that gender differences are just that. This has resulted in an increasing number of women not being able to break out of the stereotypical space, while also causing society to hold reservations about gender issues. Additionally, the development of the Internet has been affected by the lack of gender diversity on the Internet, and search engines are worse than people think for gender bias. When people search for “successful people”, they are often presented with businessmen in ties and suits, which is a sexist way of thinking that “successful people” is a male label, when there are many successful women in society. The online interactions in geek-friendly spaces like Reddit are similarly racialized and gendered, often assuming a predominance of white men (Massanari, 2016). This problem is not only a sexist issue in society, but it also exists on the internet. Men will always receive more attention from society than women, which leads to limitations in social development and personal development.
In conclusion, because of the rapid development of the Internet, the lack of diversity on the Internet is gradually magnified. The absence of variety on the Internet has dramatically affected the development of the Internet, society, and individuals. The economic diversity of the Internet is lacking, which makes the organization and individuals get loss. The lack of racial diversity on the Internet leads to increased inequality of human rights on the Internet, which hurts individuals. The Internet lacks gender diversity, leading to severe gender stereotyping. Therefore, the Internet must increase economic diversity to promote social and individual values while improving racial and gender bias.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. (2019). (rep.). Digital Platforms Inquiry: Final Report (pp. 4–38). Commonwealth of Australia.
Day, M. (2016). Business. The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/how-linkedins-search-engine-may-reflect-a-bias/
Massanari, A. (2016). #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society, 19(3), 329–346. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444815608807
McCarthy, B. P. X. (2022). The online economy’s lack of diversity. Cosmos Magazine. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://cosmosmagazine.com/technology/internet/online-lack-diversity/
Pesce, M. (2021). Introduction: A riot in Rhodes. In Augmented reality unboxing tech’s next big thing (pp. 1–15). essay, Polity.
Taube, F. (2013). Alleged search engine sexism draws complaints. DW.COM. Retrieved October 09, 2022, from https://www.dw.com/en/alleged-search-engine-sexism-draws-complaints/a-17200918
Tynes, B. (2015). Online racial discrimination: A growing problem for adolescents. AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2015/12/online-racial-discrimination