New Ways of Seeing- The Internet

Paratchaporn Thammakoranont
4 min readJul 26, 2020

“The people are mostly talking to themselves, or staring at their hands, and the banks, post offices and libraries are coffee shops, because most of their functions have moved online.”

The internet is very important in our daily life. Our life connects to online one way or another. Well, some people may say that the internet is not that important because we are not going to die if we don’t have it. If in that case then I agree that food and water is the most important thing.

Electricity or Tap Water ?

I always argue with my mother about not having tap water for one whole day (but having drinking water enough for one day) or not having electricity from one whole day which one do you prefer more.

My mother chose not to have electricity for one day. In contrast, I chose not to have tap water for one day. I don’t understand why she chose not to have electricity. What we are going to do if it is dark or what we are going to do if we don’t have a fan on this hot day. We can just skip showering for one day. It’s still OK. I argued with her for 2 days because I don’t understand and want to convince her. However, she still chose not to have electricity. I thought to myself for a day and I got these reasons. My mother’s reason is she needs water for daily use like washing, cooking or showering. My reason is I need electricity to connect the internet and charge my mobile phone. This is my real reason for choosing electricity. It’s kind of weird when I hear my mother’s reason compared to me. I don’t even want electricity for light or for electric appliances or for survival. This shows how much I attract to the internet.

This situation made me curious what the internet meant to me. Is it for survival or for entertainment? How do I look at the internet and how do I define its meaning?

What the Internet looks like?

“We rarely “see” the digital world as it really is — even as it makes more and more claims over our lives.”

I actually like this quote. We don’t know what the internet really looks like but we stick to it and use it subconsciously. On my second year project, my research topic is what the internet looks like. Some may say that the internet looks like binary code (0,1) or looks like a light dot or looks like an electricity wire.

My second year work

The answer to this can be thought of in many ways. The visual of the internet depends on what aspect that we look at, as John Berger wrote in his book

“We only see what we look at. To look is an act of choice.”

The YouTube channel name Vsauce tells the internet weight as a strawberry. He uses scientific methods to calculate the information of the internet. It means that the internet looks like binary code for him.

The internet that does not have visuals can weigh. Maybe it’s like air that we cannot see but can weigh. Some people say that the internet is information that is floating in the sky like a cloud.

“We’ve got used to hearing about “the cloud”, the numinous neverland where the machines do their unseen work, but this is where it comes back down to earth.”

This quote from James Bridle sounds like a fairy tale like the elf who makes shoes for the shoe maker and disappears in the morning. I think it is funny but it is actually reasonable for something that we cannot see.

However, there is a case that cannot see the internet but can feel it. It is a case of a teenager girl committed suicide after suffer an allergic reaction to WiFi or known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) which is sensitive to magnetic wave like WiFi. This case makes me curious that the internet doesn’t have a form that can make us feel or we just have a body that cannot feel the internet.

From these choices of what the internet looks like, I still see that all of them like binary code, cloud or wave are something that far away from what we see everyday. Well, if I talk about the internet, the visuals that appear in my mind are website and social media. I think websites and social media are a result of having the internet. Websites and social media are not the internet but because we can see it visually clearly that makes us assume that the internet and website and social media are the same thing.

In the end, there is no answer to what the internet really looks like but one thing that happened in my mind when I wrote this blog is the internet is not a tool for survival but it is a tool to survive in the digital world.