"The Internet is a great invention. It is a storehouse of all kinds of information and helps build your social circle. It also helps gain fast access to knowledge and better communication," wrote in a surfer Mayank, from Mumbai.
Indeed, this was the common sentiment that emerged from the responses to our survey on the Internet.
All our surfers were eloquent about how the net had indeed changed their lives — from having to write long letters, stand in serpentine queues and wait for a bank to open before cashing a cheque, the Internet had made things possible at the click of a mouse.
A surfer named Tapesh from London said: "The Internet has brought about a substantial change in my lifestyle. And being a storehouse of information, I find I can refer to the net for any topic under the sun !"
Another surfer Tania who wrote in from Rockville, said: "the Internet has definitely made life easier. As a high school student I use the Internet almost everyday - for information, group projects, email and more. It just makes life so much easier - a world of information is at your fingertips."
Equally vocal was Vaibhav from Sydney. He said: "I think the Internet has become a very important part of my life. I am able to stay connected with everyone, search for various things, download music, pay bills and shop. That too, without having to go anywhere! I just love the net. Without it, I find myself incomplete."
The flip side was that the Internet is being grossly misused. Many of our surfers were worried about the harmful effects of the net.
As Dr U K Sharma wrote in from Mumbai: "The Internet is invaluable, but it has spawned some horrible spin-offs such as paedophile-sites. Too much of a good thing can be dangerous, so some form of self-regulation and responsibility is needed to make the Internet a useful but safe place."
Harish from Mumbai echoed the same thought. He said: "My concern is about the authenticity of the information available and the safety of the net for its users."
The numbers only served to highlight these facts. Most of our surfers (141) said they use the net for getting information as well as for chatting, email and other entertainment. 10 people said they use it for news only and 7 said they use the net only for emails.
As many as 154 people said they surf the net everyday. Far behind were the 3 people who said they use it weekly and the one person who said he surfs the net only once a month.
All our surfers unanimously agreed that the net had changed their lives, in one way or another. While 94 people said the Internet kept them informed, 47 said it helped to streamline their work. Meanwhile, 17 people were of the opinion that the Internet widened their social contacts.
Now for our fourth and very interesting question: Would you use the email if you had to pay for it?
Not surprisingly, 78 people said they would continue to use emails even it if it meant paying for it. 48 people said, maybe, they'd think about it when the need arose. Only 32 people said they would stop using email if they had to shell out money for it.
Interestingly, despite the popularity of the net, a great many of our surfers (115) said they preferred a healthy mix of the net, the TV and books for their daily entertainment dose. Far behind were 33 surfers who said they depended only on the net and 10 others who opined that the net as a medium of infotainment did not satisfy them at all.
As many as 75 surfers said they were not sure of the authenticity of information available on the net. While 62 people contradicted this and said it was reliable, 21 others were emphatic that it was not.
Anyway, one thing is clear: The Internet has brought about sweeping changes in our lives. No longer are we dependent on other people to get things done. Log onto the net, and LO! You have a whole new world open before you.
Vox Populi would like to thank its surfers for taking time out to respond to the survey. We promise to be back with another online debate next week, thanks to the Internet. In the meantime, enjoy surfing!