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25 Ways the Web Has Changed the World

Dan Tynan

The World Wide Web celebrates its 25th birthday this week, and what an impressive 20-something it is. Tim Berners-Lee’s invention has changed our day-to-day lives more thoroughly than anything else in recorded history, though not always for the better. Don’t believe it? Then check out the following 25 examples of how our lives are different because of the web, and watch our interview with Berners-Lee right here

1. Bar room debates. Thanks to web search engines, Siri and Google Now, trivia questions and alcohol-fueled arguments can be settled in a matter of seconds. Now what will we fight about?

2. Weather. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Just check your phone to know whether to wear your Manolo Blahniks or mukluks. (And may we gently recommend the Yahoo Weather app? It’s awesome.)


3. Fame. Anyone can become an international superstar thanks to YouTube. Unfortunately, this also includes Justin Bieber.

4. Getting lost. You’ll never have to ask for directions again — or complain that your spouse refuses to. Google Maps and its geocentric cousins have removed one common source of marital discord (only 3,247 more to go).

5. Shopping. Wandering into a Walmart, Barnes & Noble or Best Buy could become a thing of the past. Americans spent nearly $270 billion shopping online in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a figure that’s increasing 15 to 20 percent each year.


Image: Wikimedia

6. The final frontier. You don’t have to work for NASA to hitch a ride on the Mars Rover or chill at the International Space Station.

7. Planes, trains and automobiles. Your local travel agent is on permanent vacation, or soon will be. In 2012, seven out of 10 travelers booked their own rooms and flights online, per eMarketer.

8. Work. You no longer need to talk to your co-workers or even meet them, thanks to email, instant messaging, and remote access software. You can work with someone for years and yet still be unable to pick them out of a police lineup.


Image: Cheezburger.com

9. Snarkasm. The web has turned back-of-the-bus smartassery into an art form. Wear a ridiculous hat at an awards show? Get caught mouthing curse words on camera? It will get turned into a meme faster than you can say, “McKayla Maroney is not impressed.”

10. Crime. You don’t have to live in a crappy neighborhood to have criminals invade your home. Each day some 1.5 million people are victims of cybercrime, according to a 2012 study by Symantec.

11. Games. There’s no need to carry around a pocketful of quarters to get your Space Invaders fix. Classic arcade games are just a click away.

12. Face me. Video chats are no longer just for Star Trek anymore. Between Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts, we’re getting used to watching people stare slightly off to one side while talking to us.


13. Narcissism. Selfies, anyone?

14. Medical care. Why spend hours in a waiting room reading old magazines just to be told to get some rest and drink more fluids? Today you can bone up on your symptoms on WebMD or MayoClinic.org and get a video consult via virtual health services like MDLIVE.

15. News. Catching up on the headlines no longer means washing ink off your fingers or enduring excessively perky TV hosts and drive-time DJs. (Have you checked out Yahoo News Digest yet? Just asking.)

16. Dating. You no longer need to wait for Aunt Edwina to fix you up to get a date for Saturday night. More than 40 million Americans have posted profiles to online dating sites like Match.com and eHarmony. Do you feel lucky?

17. Naughty bits. No need to sneak into your local XXX emporium to procure adult entertainment, or to have magazines sent to your house in discreet brown paper wrappers. For better or worse, the web has revolutionized porn.


18. Cheating. For kids, that means copying and pasting from Wikipedia. For teenagers, it’s downloading movies and music from torrent sites. For adults, Ashley Madison.

19. Job-hunting. You no longer need to get your hair cut or your shoes shined to apply for a job. More than 90 percent of job seekers look for work online, according to a survey by Beyond.com.

20. Accountability. Public figures used to be able to lie and get away with it for days, if not longer. The web has shrunk the fib-to-fact time down to just minutes.


Image: Flickr

21. Dissent. You no longer have to ride naked on horseback through the center of town or nail posters to church doors to generate an angry mob. Just tweet something revolutionary and wait for the crowds to form.

22. Family reunions. Forget about pulling a dusty photo album off the shelf or schlepping hundreds of miles to get a look at your distant relations; that’s why God and Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook.

23. Languages. You’re now fluent in dozens of tongues, thanks to services like Google Translate and Bing Translator. Or you can just fake it convincingly, like this woman.

24. Cord cutting. Streaming media has freed many of us from the shackles of cable and satellite TV providers.And if you don’t know what show to watch, recommendation engines inside sites like Amazon Instant Video and Netflix can tell you what you’ll probably like.


Image: Flickr

25. Cats. No matter where you are, you’re never more than a click away from videos of adorable kittens. Thanks, Tim. 

Get the latest on kittens and cord cutting by liking Yahoo Tech on Facebook right now