“The mobile phone – now with significant computing power – [will be] the primary Internet connection and the only one for a majority of the people across the world,” the Pew Internet & American Life Project writes in a new “Future of the Internet” report. “Telephony [will be] offered under a set of universal standards and protocols accepted by most operators internationally, making for reasonably effortless movement from one part of the world to another.”
With the ease of communicating and sharing information with people around the world, will this lead to greater social tolerance? Most experts don’t think so.
Only 32% of experts agreed that the Web will bring about greater social tolerance, while 56% disagreed. “A number of the survey participants indicated that the divide between the tolerant and intolerant could possibly be deepened because of information-sharing tactics people use on the Internet,” Pew writes.
Social tolerance is “not in mankind’s nature,” Pew was told by survey respondent Adam Peake, policy analyst for the Center for Global Communications. “The first global satellite link-up was 1967, BBC’s Our World: the Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love,’ and we still have war, genocide, and assassination (Lennon’s poignantly).”
True, the sheer availability of information on other peoples and cultures won’t by itself help the cause of tolerance. But for those interested in getting to know their other-cultural neighbors better, the Internet provides an opportunity to learn more about them — and even talk to them — which is a positive step in itself.