The web of fear and hope

Communication and contacts among people were the most important component of civilization from time immemorial. Every breakthrough in this field shook humanity. The ability to quickly and precisely receive information created empires and ruined them. Do you remember the simple trick that the Count of Monte Cristo used to crushed his enemy - the banker Danglars just by bribing the telegraph employee to deliver the wrong message? Compare this to the power of the internet, which allows us not only to communicate directly with almost any inhabitant of the Earth but also provides access to all the world’s spiritual and cultural benefits. Everything that seemed to be an unattainable dream a hundred years ago — the opportunity, without leaving home, to attend lectures by leading scientists, to see the famous theatre plays, to get familiarized with the works of outstanding painters — became a reality.

According to estimates of the International Telecommunication Union, there are 3.5 billion internet users worldwide, that is half the world's population. Of course, this figure is somewhat cunning: after all, only the number of devices is considered. If you have a computer, smartphone and a tablet that have access to the Internet, you will be registered as three users not as one. Nevertheless, the figure is impressive.
But how does the internet army affect our life? Has the global society become more educated, spiritual and intelligent than it was half a century ago in the pre-internet era?

Or have we learned to communicate more correctly with strangers and our loved ones? Have we learned to listen to other people better and accept the standpoint and arguments of the opponent?
I doubt it. Social networks are filled with spam and tips on how to consume better and more (tastier food, more fashionable dress, new gadget or car). Audience of entertainment websites exceeds the figures of the Louvre or the Hermitage. Weight control courses attract a significantly larger audience than the cycle of popular lectures.
And how it happened that internet, designed to unite people, separates them is a different story. The heat of passion, which sometimes breaks out in seemingly innocent discussions— from the recipe for borscht cooking to the ways of raising children — is so extreme that one has to wonder how the fibre optic cables can withstand it.
The World Wide Web has spawned such a phenomenon as trolling — conscious actions designed to humiliate and insult an opponent. Internet trolls have become something akin to the American gangsters of the Great Depression: those stardust outlaws that are condemned and admired.
In the end, the internet addiction became an officially recognized medical problem, which destroys social and family ties no less effectively than its "older sister" — drug addiction.
Internet has even much more dangerous effect. It turned out that its resources could be successfully applied for the collapse of states. The term "twitter revolution" appeared not by mere chance. Mass rallies of 2009-14 that swept across Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Turkey and Ukraine were partly provoked and coordinated through social networks and messengers.
Speaking at a media forum in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin recalled that "the internet has emerged as a special project of the CIA and is being developing as such." This is the secret of Polichinelle, but it is hard to believe that it was first stated at such a high level. Actually, there is nothing unusual: at all times, only special services and military forces could handle the development of large-scale projects based on advanced technologies. No one has ever spared the resources for security and it’s not the most pleasant aspect: espionage.
By the way, the system that could become the prototype of internet appeared under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence in the USSR even earlier than in the West. The computer network of the missile defence complex of the 60s of the last century protects our sky in a modernized form even now. Although, in contrast to the western analogue it was still militarized. However, who could say that having become global the Western version of the internet held back? No head of the special services will voluntarily give up such a powerful means of pressure. In recent years, with the cooling of relations between the US and Russia, we all have noticed the consequences of this: it's no secret that search engines and social networks edit news feeds not in favour of our country.
Of course, all that is said does not mean that we should censor, restrict or completely ban the internet. Such attempts are periodically undertaken — so-called "The great Chinese firewall" is well-known — but they are not effective.
Fortunately or vice versa, but the strength of the internet is its weakness. Faced with reality, the virtual world suffers a quick and brutal defeat. "Twitter revolutions" have been successful far from everywhere. When the power is weak and corrupt, it is unable to resist the changes. On the other hand, when society trusts the authorities and the authorities themselves feel confident, the revolution stays within the social networks.
And here we come to the answer, what is the Internet, why do we need it and what to do with it further.
I'm not the most advanced user, but still I think that this is a great high-tech tool. Like any tool, it means nothing without a man. Mahatma Gandhi did not have anything like that around him. Moreover, they tried to drown out his words and thoughts in every way but still those reached the souls and hearts of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Many chess enthusiasts, including myself, use the worldwide net to promote the game. According to a study of three years ago, about 600 million people regularly played chess using PCs and gadgets including online services. Now that number should be considerably bigger. And, in my opinion, it's wonderful.
We in the FIDE intend to increase the number of people playing chess up to one billion. It is not for the sake of an impressive number, but because an intelligent person is much less susceptible to manipulation and provocation. He is able not only to protect himself from destructive temptations, but also to protect his loved ones and teach them to take advantage of the internet and circumvent his traps.
The main thing is to realize whether we intend to waste away our lives irresponsibly and recklessly on the web, where someone is laying information, meanings and values for us and instead of us. Or do we want to become smarter and better with the help of the web and to find friends and like-minded people?