Since the Internet is almost as important as the air we breathe, everything is changing inside and outside the human being. Never before have we been so connected and never before have so many people felt so lonely. A loneliness that sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not. The Internet does not define humanity, but humanity defines the Internet. Whatever you are looking for, you will certainly find it on the Internet. The greater the connectivity, the greater the opportunities, but many people feel it is a problem. New business models, new learning platforms, new collaborative environments, new voices now coexist with new phobias. In addition to the well-known FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), that “fear” of missing out on something, there is a more recent one known as “nomophobia” (no-mobile-phone-phobia). Findings from one of the most recent studies suggest that users perceive smartphones as their extended self and become attached to the devices. People experience feelings of anxiety and dislike when separated from their phones. Meanwhile, a U.S. study shows that separating people from their smartphones can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. There is a third study, also recent, that suggests that nearly 2 out of 3 smartphone users (66%) suffer from nomophobia, the dependence on our smartphone for our “psychological well-being.”
Some call it addiction, others call it evolution. Digital marketers call it an opportunity.

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“The goal of the internet and its associated technologies was to “free” humanity from the tasks – doing things, learning things, remembering things – that had hitherto constituted life because they brought meaning to it” wrote Jonathan Franzen. As we grapple with the new technologies, some of their emotional and psychological effects are beginning to become tangible. We try to absorb everything that happens, without fully understanding why it happens. There is even talk of the disappearance of the Internet. Not in the literal sense, but in the more metaphorical one. “In a few years, we will have so many IP addresses, smart devices and sensors that we won’t even notice the Internet because it will be part of the human presence itself,” said Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt. “The barrier between the ‘online’ and ‘offline’ world will be erased, the Internet will be like oxygen,” the Internet will be so essential to our well-being that we won’t be able to do without it.
So we ask ourselves the same question once again: Is the Internet changing us as human beings?

We are experiencing major milestones while we are busy doing other things. More than half of the world’s population (53%) is now online. We are privileged to be more than four billion out of a global population of nearly 7.6 billion.  And the latest data shows that nearly 250 million new users went online for the first time in 2017. This is the equivalent of 5 times the entire population of Spain, from the oldest to the last newborn. The data was published in “The New Global Digital” by We Are Social and Hootsuite.


Africa, our neighbor to the South, has experienced the fastest growth rates, with the number of Internet users increasing by more than 20 percent year over year. Internet penetration rates may still be low in much of Central Africa and South Asia, but these regions are also experiencing the fastest growth in Internet adoption. The growths are understandable from the delay in the arrival of progress. But it is always better late than never.
Accelerating access in developing economies will impact the Internet experience for users around the world, as companies like Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Tencent strive to offer scalable global products that address the needs and contexts of these new users.
Young people are the most connected age group. Globally, 71% are online compared to 48% of the total population.
African youth are the least connected, with around 3 in 5 young people offline, compared to only 1 in 25 in Europe (approximately 56 percent of all websites are in English and many children cannot find content they understand or that is culturally relevant).
More than 9 in 10 child sexual abuse URLs identified globally are hosted in five countries – Canada, France, the Netherlands, Russia and the United States.
To level the digital playing field for children and make it safer, UNICEF is calling on governments, the digital technology sector and telecommunications industries to prioritize the expansion of Internet access and the protection of children online. Only collective action – by governments, the private sector, children’s organizations, academia, families and children themselves – can make the digital space more accessible and safer for children, says UNICEF.

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In all areas of life there are risks and opportunities. It would be a good start for adults to see both sides of the coin (Internet) to protect the most vulnerable and prepare them for the leap and its good use. Human beings fear neither the Internet nor progress, they are afraid of fear.
The Internet has enabled society to embark on a transformation process never seen before. There is almost no space in life that the Internet does not reach, and the change covers all areas of daily life, labor, cultural, legal, educational, social, humanistic, and relational. The Internet and digitalization have put at our fingertips tools that are as powerful for good as they are for evil. And from the use we make of them, countless new questions arise. “Is it possible to work and live without the Internet?” “Why do I invest an average of four hours per day in social media?” “Where is this Internetcentric society heading?” “How does the Internet reformulate affective relationships?” “Has the Internet redefined the legal contract?”, “How is it redefining the surveillance of public space?”, “Is there privacy and intimacy in the digital age?” “Can the Internet disappear?” are some of the questions that arise day after day, the more certainties we acquire the more uncertainties we create.
Clearly, these types of questions open the door to others and so on. Meanwhile users in Africa have increased by more than 20 percent year over year. Much of the growth in Internet users has been driven by smartphones and more affordable mobile data plans. More than 200 million people got their first mobile device in 2017, and two-thirds of the world’s 7.6 billion people now own a cell phone.
More than half of the phones in use today are also “smart” devices, making it increasingly easy for people to enjoy, tap into the internet wherever they are.

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Social media usage also continues to grow rapidly, with the number of people using the top platform in each country increasing by nearly one million new users every day over the past 12 months. More than 3 billion people worldwide use social networks every month, and 9 out of 10 users access their chosen platforms via mobile devices.
Looking at the numbers, we see that the number of internet users in 2018 is more than 4 billion, up 7 percent from last year. The number of social media users in 2018 is 3.2 billion (Nearly 1 million people started using social media for the first time every day in the past year, which equates to more than 11 new users per second). The global number of people using social networks has grown by 13 percent over the past 12 months, with Central and South Asia registering the fastest increases (90 percent and 33 percent, respectively).
We are seeing a greater number of older users joining social networks as well. On Facebook alone, the number of users aged 65 and older has increased by nearly 20 percent in the last 12 months.
The number of teens using Facebook has also increased, but the number of 13- to 17-year-old users has only grown by 5 percent since January 2017.
Finally, the number of cell phone users in 2018 is 5.135 million, up 4 percent from the previous year. More than two-thirds of the world’s population now has a cell phone, and most people now use a smartphone.
It’s not just that the number of people using the Internet that has increased this year; the amount of time people spend on the Internet has also increased over the last 12 months (according to the latest data from GlobalWebIndex) showing that the average Internet user is spending around 6 hours a day using Internet-enabled devices and services, or about a third of their daily lives.
Moreover, this information is only for web usage. The latest data shows that people now spend 7 times more time using mobile apps compared to mobile web browsers, so the “internet share” of mobile devices is even higher than the above figures suggest.


Finally, for the third year in a row, Filipinos spend the most time on social networks. They are followed by Brazilians and Indonesians and Thais, who have overtaken Argentines to take third and fourth place in this year’s ranking.
Technology in general and the Internet in particular have advanced much faster than human beings. It is time for human beings to catch up with the speed of technology and make it a tool for good.
The data say a lot and there are others that also open the artery of insensitivity to awaken the conscience of what we have done, but even more of what we can do to change what we do not like.
Every day some 25,000 people die of hunger (of which 8,500 are children). The world produces enough food for 10 billion people. However, one third of that food is spoiled during harvesting, transport and storage. The world’s poor spend 70 percent of their income on food.
At the same time, more than $550,000,000 is spent per day on obesity and weight loss programs.
Obesity is now a global problem and an estimated 2.8 million people die each year from obesity or being overweight. More than 2.1 billion people in the world are overweight, of which 670 million are obese. This is 30% of the world’s population, growing at an alarming rate. In Europe and the USA, the incidence of childhood obesity has doubled in the last 20 years.
The impact of obesity on the world economy is estimated at around 2.8% of global GDP. Obesity raises health care costs by 50% each year, more than smoking (20%).

Behind every number there is a human being, a story.

Another factor is still killing more people, although it is not even considered a pathology: loneliness and social isolation. More than nine million people in England, two out of ten, feel lonely always or sometimes, according to a 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. For this reason, Prime Minister Theresa May decided to create the “Ministry of Loneliness” and the “Minister for Loneliness” (I am putting it in quotation marks to emphasize the unbearable levity of our era) has already joined the Cabinet.

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Diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death in children under five, killing 760,000 children each year. There are 1.7 billion cases of diarrheal disease each year.
There are about 40 years until the oil runs out, about 59,600 days until the gas runs out, and 150,800 until the coal runs out. We are still at the dawn of clean energy. Renewables have not yet expanded to the level that such an energy transformation would require.
More than 780 million people lacked access to safe drinking water in 2014, 663 million is the total number of people without access to improved drinking water worldwide (for the first time the figure drops below 700 million).
Nearly one billion people worldwide are currently living without electricity and an estimated 780 million of them could remain off-grid by 2030.
The world is full of challenges and opportunities. This world, which is experiencing the best moment of its existence, still has a number of issues to resolve. We bid farewell to the 20th century with anxiety as a transversal “disease” in the world and we welcome the 21st century with loneliness that kills. A new question assaults us: Are we genetically programmed for dissatisfaction?

There is also a space of illusion with areas that invite hope..

Six decades ago, one in two people lived in extreme and chronic poverty. Today, this drama affects 10% of human beings. Every hour, 6,000 people are lifted out of poverty. Since 1980, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has been reduced to a quarter. In South Asia it used to be 50% and now it is 15%. In East Asia and the Pacific, extreme poverty has fallen from 80% (four out of five people) to 3.5%.
Human” development is the key to the work of the United Nations Development Program. “Economic growth will not create jobs and reduce poverty unless it is inclusive economic growth, where the needs of the poor and marginalized are in focus. Studies show that when men and women have equal opportunities and freedoms, economic growth accelerates and poverty averages fall faster.”
In the 19th century there was no country whose life expectancy exceeded 40 years. Not even the richest. Today there is not a single country in the world where life expectancy is less than 40 years.
In 1980, 44% of the world’s population did not know how to read and write; now it is only 15%, according to OECD and UNESCO data.
In 1960, according to WHO and World Bank data, one out of every five children died before the age of five; now 19 out of every 20 survive.
One hundred years ago, less than 20% of the world’s countries were democracies. In 1941, only 11 countries were democracies. In the 1990s, 46% of countries were democratic; today 64% are.
There is light at the end of the road. And also at the end of the road.


People living today are richer, healthier, freer, more peaceful, more educated and more equal than ever before (never before is important). The data, these cold numbers, show that we are improving, that in general, humanity is better off than ever before. But it is not a gift, it is the work and sacrifice of many people to achieve it.
It is time for more people to join in the work so that the center of our future is not in curing but in preventing. In using wisely and intelligently all the tools that progress has given us. Theresa May said that “for many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life“. There are many more people who find in modernity enough reasons to create a better world. As a civilization, in fits and starts and in ways that are not always understandable or orthodox, we have moved toward what we enjoy today as progress. There is no doubt that our world today, with its flaws and imperfections, is better than our world of yesterday. We will agree that we are still far from an ideal world, but the numbers, those that speak of what is lacking and what we have achieved, tell us that we are making progress. Even if not everyone is clear about which direction to move in from now on, and even if there is still a lot to ask, to discover, to explore and to do. Never before have we been so connected and with so many tools at our fingertips to achieve it.
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