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Johny Gill
Lower Sixth
East Town

East Town vs Hallward’s debate: The Internet has made the world a worse than better place

East Town vs Hallward’s debate: The Internet has made the world a worse than better place

On Friday 10th the two Houses got underway with the first debate of the Lent term. After a few weeks absence of debates we were delighted to find that once more the contestants were fully engaged with the task and passionate in their delivery.

Round 5 began with Emily Harvey who put forward a provocative argument for Hallward’s, where, in particular, cyber bullying and the anonymity that the internet provides were deplored. Despite a point of information from the opposition; which went along the lines of “is it not the fault of those who abuse the internet rather than just the internet itself?”; Emily stood her ground and moreover kept within the time: something that the following speakers failed to achieve.

“Vast, immediate, powerful” — a Christopher Wheal coinage which despite being rather ‘tongue in cheek’, managed to provide a strong line of argument for East Town. With his typical, confident demeanour, Christopher considered everything from events at the Arab Spring to the environmental benefits of the internet: notably that where music is available online less CO₂ is being created in the manufacture of records. Ultimately he spoke of the Internet as an educational and financial resource; this proved highly significant for East Town’s second and third speakers and went more or less undisputed for the rest of the hour.

Sammy James, Hallward’s second speaker focussed upon the fraudulent aspects and went on to explain that the sense of decline in our community was due to the amount of time we spend on-line. She stated that the quote “We eat eight spiders in our lifetime” was an internet rumour which served to demonstrate that anyone can publish nonsense but nonetheless it is nonsense that has the ability to become widely accepted as fact. Her speech was well paced and presented with confidence.

The second speaker for East Town, Freddy Kalfayan had a number of statistics at his disposal including the 3% GDP which the internet brings into this country. Freddy was a hard act to follow after making some interesting contextual references, quoting Bill Gates “Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven” to contradict Hallward’s argument that books alone have always been accepted as the true source of information. He stated that “novels were originally perceived to be a bad idea” however like the internet they have become accepted as a vital source of information.

Questions from the floor were as usual a mix of the inappropriate and the intriguing. East Town’s James Heaven took to the stage to sum up and answered the points from the floor with conviction, for example when asked about the 1 million hits for pro-anorexia websites he suggested the internet is also used to search for the help that was available: 21 million hits. He exemplified the points made by East Town’s previous speakers, justifying that social messages promoted freedom and democracy. Ultimately he drew upon the concept that the internet has an integral place in society and touched on a moral point of great significance: “like any tool intended for good, the internet can be used for evil”.

The final speaker for Hallward’s, Agnes Woolley, took a similar approach to confronting the questions. Though she may have skipped over Sam Nelson’s rather sacrilegious comment on Jesus and his creation of a “false-profile”, she convinced us all that the internet was not “the route of all evil”; though the fact that many of us spend over “31 hours a week on-line” is a poignant fact to consider. Being the esteemed actress that she is, her stage presence really accentuated her speech and left us with three memorable ways in which the internet can harm: addiction, poor blood circulation and insomnia.

In his overview, whist giving some constructive feedback; Mr Hasthorpe slipped in the odd, cringey joke. He explained that often in the debate contestants will go to the ‘polar extreme’ of their argument, in this case, “Hallward’s want to live in straw houses, eat nettle soup and knit their own Muesli”; and then pointed out that even he had learned something, “I thought Arab Spring was a brand of mineral water”. Mr Hasthorpe commended Hallward’s in particular for their efforts because to support the notion was far more challenging than to oppose it. Despite this, the debate was given to East Town after an overwhelming vote in their favour, from the audience.

14 February 2012

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