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Way back in the 1980s (sorry, those of you old enough to remember), British scientist Tim Berners-Lee undertook some groundbreaking research at the Switzerland CERN facility.

This research involved CERN installing a TCP/IP protocol suite in order to interconnect its central systems, a technology which would later go on to help establish the first external TCP/IP protocols and thus the Internet as we know it today.

You won’t have to look far to see how the Internet has changed our lives for the better (and occasionally for the worse). Everything from finance to pop culture, from academia to how we socialize with our friends, has been completely fundamentally transformed by the Internet.

Boiling down the impact that such a monumental project has had on our lives is impossible, but we thought we’d give it a try anyway. Here are 5 ways in which the Internet has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives.

Social media

This is probably the first thing anyone thinks of when they’re talking about the Internet as we know it today. Social media has its roots in a late-’90s website called Six Degrees, which was the first website to allow its users to upload custom profiles and befriend other users.

Obviously, this site was primitive in comparison to today’s Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, but it helped to lay the groundwork. Social media has fundamentally transformed how we interact with one another on a daily basis; whether it’s sharing political images and seeing how our friends react or posting pictures of ourselves for our relatives to enjoy, social media has brought us together just as it’s torn some of us apart.

Lending, loans, and finance

 Prior to the Internet’s arrival, lending was a pure bank- and private company-based practice. If a borrower wanted to apply for a loan, they’d have to do so with a huge company which was well-versed in providing such a service, or they’d need to look further afield to less savory prospects.

With the Internet, a huge amount of different loans and financing options have become available. Peer-to-peer lending is going from strength to strength, while logbook loans are highly rated by many who are seeking help with financing a second vehicle or a DIY project.The internet has opened a whole new window to the concept of trading online. Gone are the days of telephone trading, using Forex to conduct trading online has enabled anyone to get involved. We have the internet to thank for this – many trading platforms now exist and you can use free bonus money to get started.

Music and media

 Those of you who are old enough to remember physical media for music will remember the thrill of going to a friend’s house and listening to an album you didn’t own.

For the Internet generation, that feeling has been replaced by services like Spotify, which offer bespoke playlists depending on a user’s listening habits, as well as the ability to see what friends are listening to so you can cop their superior tastes (or guilty pleasures) for yourself. Meanwhile, YouTube and other video hosting services have revolutionized the independent creative space; many creators who probably wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere near conventional TV channels have a home on YouTube, for better or worse, and filmmakers and marketers have been using YouTube for viral marketing purposes for many years.

Communication

 Some of the ways we now communicate with each other tie into social media; services like Facebook and Twitter have direct messaging features which users can use to talk to one another, while apps like Snapchat are entirely built around communication. Fundamentally, though, the communication method which most altered the landscape in terms of the Internet is probably email.

The ability to immediately send a message which could then instantly be read by its recipient made snail mail virtually obsolete overnight and modern messenger services are effectively just smaller and quicker versions of the email. Keeping up with friends, family members, and loved ones was so much easier as soon as the Internet arrived.

Business and office culture

 Thanks to things like instant video link and high-speed Internet connections, it’s easier than ever for offices to undertake their business. Higher speed connections make it much easier for graphic designers and e-commerce websites to find and create assets for their products, while services like Skype and Google Hangouts have made communicating with employees all around the globe far easier.

Global companies can keep their employees up to speed with developments and problems to solve without needing to wait days for a return communication, while smaller businesses can expand their reach to other countries much more easily thanks to the Internet.

These are, of course, just some of the ways that the Internet has changed our lives. This difference between pre- and post-Internet life is only likely to deepen as connected smart homes and other new developments take root.