Elizabeth Davies says the internet's the greatest weapon in the young person's arsenal - disguised as a massive, pornographic waste of time

Elizabeth Davies says the internet's the greatest weapon in the young person's arsenal - disguised as a massive, pornographic waste of time

By Elizabeth Davies

Over the weekend I engaged in a healthy, heated, debate - otherwise known as family dinner.

We were of course discussing the lives of my sisters and I compared to my dad’s life at the same age.

By the time he was 27 he was married, owned a house, had a child, and his second on the way. In comparison we look like under-achievers, still struggling to pay rent and getting pathetically excited when we find small change in our couch.

Dad reluctantly admitted that some things are more difficult these days but he also pointed out one massive advantage my generation has over his; the internet. The internet may as well be my generation’s third parent. It got us through high school exams and university assignments. It gave us online shopping, the ability to cyber stalk our ex-boyfriends, and of course free porn.

YouTube taught us how to cook our first romantic dinner, French plait our hair, play the guitar and gave us access to everything from inspirational TED talks to videos of cats playing the piano.

While all these life essentials may sound trivial the internet has also given us some very serious gifts. We now have the ability to search and apply for jobs anywhere in the world, all while we sit in our pyjamas eating peanut butter from the jar, using an Oreo as a spoon.

We can even interview for that job in London via Skype, never forgetting to tape googly eyes to our webcam as a reminder to ‘maintain eye contact’.

Financially speaking the internet has given our generation a massive advantage in business and personal spending. We can launch a small business without hiring staff, or leasing an office or retail space. We can reach customers not only in our suburb, or city, but throughout our entire country and internationally as well.

Social media allows us to harness the power of ‘word of mouth’ and use it to our advantage with comparatively little effort. As consumers we are able to browse and compare prices for absolutely everything we could possibly need. We can easily compare and find cheaper options for flights, accommodation, and activities, revolutionising the travel experience.

If that wasn’t enough we can Facebook our mum at 3am when we are homesick and running out of money. An internet money transfer can rescue us from the brink of disaster.

If we are ever confused about financial issues, concerned about our rights as employees or tenants, or incredibly bored, the internet has given us the gift of Google. The sheer power of an effective search engine should never be undervalued.

Every barrier that geography built to keep New Zealand silent at the bottom of the world was torn down. We are now able to reach out, not only to take what we need but to offer up what we have.

The internet gives us the courage to dream bigger and the ability to reach further. It’s the greatest weapon in our arsenal, disguised as a massive, pornographic waste of time.


Elizabeth Davies is a 24 year-old graduate of the Auckland University of Technology post graduate journalism course. She lives with her partner in Epsom and spends her free time refurbishing vintage furniture and attempting to bake while fighting a daily battle against her bank balance. She writes a weekly article for interest.co.nz on money matters and financial struggles from a young person's perspective.

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May be the one thing missing is the motivation to use the net for personal advantage, what with people using it generally for other distractions mostly ?

Can the internet help New Zealand overcome the fact that we import 50% of our energy needs and probably all out transport needs? If that tap is ever turned off then all the time spend playing with the internet will in hindsight seem the folly it is.
The interenst is first and foremost a giant encyclopedia, a wealth of knowledge that the young seem abuse as a tool for trivia. The advantage is being squandered and turned into a disadvantage, the "Circus" in "Bread and Circuses" if you like.
For the last three years the Interenet has been a tool for me to seek answers to the GFC. I asked myself what is really going on and set about finding out. The same answers I have found are right there available to Elizabeth and every other young person.
Elizabeth you do ask yourself why 1 in 4 people under 25 are unemployed? Probably trending towards the 60% level seen in Spain? Are you aware of the fact that the birth rate of the world has been declining for 50 years and that means young people like you will have to work harder to support the demographic imbalance that is causing? Does that declining rate of population growth have any relation to the Seneca Effect (it sure looks like it).
The odds are stacked well against the young in many dimensions. The questions is are you going to use the internet as a tool to address the odds or simply use it for personal gratification as the generations before you have done with their advantage.

>>> "By the time he was 27 he was married, owned a house..."
Elizabeth you didn't specify the year, but please for your own edification carry out the exercise of working out the value of your parents' house when it was bought, in today's dollars. Hopefully they will remember the purchase price. You may convert this to 2014 dollars using the Reserve Bank historical inflation record*. Compare and contrast.
You have found the major wealth transfer from the younger generations to that of your parents that will keep us all relatively poor for a long time.
* http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/monetary_policy/inflation_calculator/ (use CPI not housing)