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Newspaper article from 2000 predicts the future of the internet and it couldn’t be more wrong

Newspaper article from 2000 predicts the future of the internet and it couldn’t be more wrong

It's not always easy to read the tea leaves.

It's never easy to predict the future - whether that's because of a lack of evidence, or due to the inherent unknowability of time.

Still, every so often researchers of slightly obscure origin will pop up to make bold claims, and it can be very tempting to write that up as potential fact.

Well, one science correspondent for the UK's Daily Mail made almost exactly that move back in December of the year 2000.

A picture of the article in that newspaper has gone viral on Reddit this week, with the bold headline - "Internet 'may be just a passing fad as millions give up on it'."

The piece cited research from a panel called Virtual Society, which claimed that people were increasingly finding themselves bored or alienated by the internet.

The research seemingly argued that people found the system too fiddly and using email, for example, simply added to their administrative workload rather than saving them time.

It claimed that people's use of the internet was declining over time, with apparently millions stopping using it altogether.

Isabel Pavia / Getty
Isabel Pavia / Getty

Those numbers are now pretty hard to swallow, with the internet standing as one of the single most ubiquitous pieces of technological infrastructure underpinning the modern world.

To be fair to the journalist, of course, they're just reporting the research rather than vocally agreeing with it, and this is far from the only time when a headline has slightly simplified matters, but that hasn't stopped commenters on Reddit from ripping the piece to shreds.

The top comment under the piece is a really sardonic one, suggesting similar headlines: "'Homelessness will solve itself', 'Amazon will go back to just selling books', 'Cats don't actually enjoy pushing things off of ledges'."

Darren Robb / Getty
Darren Robb / Getty

However, there were some more forgiving responses, including one person who compared it to another piece of tech that ended up going nowhere: "My dad always said CDs were a fad and stuck to vinyl. He was right I guess, but it took about 40 years for him to win that argument".

Still, it's a little hard to believe that the internet will ever go the way of the CD, since it's so fundamental to our daily lives.

Finally, though, one commenter offered a perspective to remind people that this sort of contrarian approach to the internet was actually fairly common back in the day: "I remember back in 2002-2003. I was in my mid 20s, didn't have two nickels to rub together. I told my dad if I had any extra money, I'd buy Google stock when it goes public. My dad said I'd be wasting my money because the internet is a fad."

Featured Image Credit: u/Efficient_Sky5173 / Reddit / Terry Vine/Getty