For all the negatives that the internet is associated with, such as spam, pornography, and phishing scams, it does have some very positive effects on the world. You get to read blogs like this one, even though that's not all that positive. We all know about the efficient commerce that is made possible through search engines like Google, sites like Craigslist or eBay, but I think one of the rarely mentioned benefits is that it makes us, (meaning those with web access), smarter. In "the old days," if you had a question or wondered something, you just told yourself you'd look it up one day… and then you most likely forgot, or had to wait until the library opened again. Once you arrived at the library, it was never certain that the information you wanted would be available. Now, with the world at your fingertips, you look it up instantly. Not only that, but when I look up facts, I'm usually sharing them with others I know. Additionally, knowledge and ideas can also be spread across borders and across oceans in an instant like never before. Of course, there's a lot of false information on the internet, but follow my advice. If you see bits of information repeated by multiple sites, it's more likely to be accurate. For instance, I find visits to the doctor's office for minor afflictions to be more hassle than value, and so I research health topics on line. Advice frequently repeated is usually good. This comes in handy because, as I always say, "by the time I get a doctor's appointment, I'll either be healed or dead." (NOTE: I am not advocating that others skip seeing the doctor for a health problem of any kind.)
On the creative front, the internet can inspire with idea sharing and inspiration. It creates virtual communities and entertainment that other media cannot match. Sure, time can be wasted on the internet, (especially at work), but I would argue that if a person is going to waste time, she/he would probably find some other way to waste it by doing things like chit-chatting or smoking, or making a personal phone call. Besides, an email is usually quicker (and cheaper) to complete than a phone call. Instant Messaging is a different story. At home, web surfing is no worse than channel surfing, and you have a higher chance of learning something as opposed to just being entertained.
It's time we accentuate the positives of the internet and continue to use it so that our brains can continue to swell. After the next global catastrophe, all the knowledge of the internet will be in our collective heads, a la Fahrenheit 451.