Freedom is Not Free

We live in a world surrounded by information. Even when we don’t realize it, our brains are constantly processing and making sense of all of this information (which makes me want to give my brain a high-five for all of the awesome work it does without me knowing).

Due to technological advances in the 1900s, we now have information at our fingertips. Want to know how many legs the average caterpillar has, or what the word floccinaucinihilipilification means? Google has you covered. (and, in case you’re too lazy to open a new tab: the average caterpillar has 16 legs, depending on the stage of life it is in, and floccinaucinihilipilification is the act of describing something as having very little value).

One might describe this abundance of information as a truly remarkable feat in human history. We have come so far from the days of searching through encyclopedias and massive, leather-bound books for information (in those days, no one probably cared about the anatomy of a caterpillar, much less the definition of a 29 character word).

The internet certainly comes in handy. But there is a price that comes along with it. As the American idiom goes, freedom is not free. While some people greatly benefit from the freedom of information, others greatly suffer. This is because the internet isn’t only used for Googling random tidbits of information – it is used to communicate.

Communication is a basic human need. We communicate through words and non-verbal cues, but we also communicate a lot via the internet. This helps some people; people who enjoy being social, whatever the form, people who are shy in person, and people who use the internet creatively to find new ways to communicate. But, the freedom that these people experience comes with a price, because for some people in the world, online communications are feared, and so internet access is restricted.

We see this on a much smaller scale in education, where there are countless debates over the pros and cons of internet filtering in schools.  This seems like a big deal for those involved, but when you take a step back and look at the whole picture, there are entire countries where citizens constitutional rights are being revoked because of the freedom of information that we are so quick to take for granted.

Freedom is truly not free, and freedom of information is no exception. What is your opinion on freedom of information, and filtering of the internet? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear your opinion.

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