Toward a Healthier Internet

Having just (re)joined a gym, purchased a fitness tracker, and signed up with a personal trainer, it’s safe to say that I’m prioritizing my health these days.

With this view firmly in place, reading Mozilla’s Internet Health Report takes on a (probably unintentional) biological framework: how does the health of the internet effect the health of those who use it? What does it mean for a person to be healthy? And how do these attributes translate to a system of mechanical parts?

From where I (literally) sit, being online all the time can be physically punishing for and my fellow humans. My shoulders, for example, are wont to rotate inward, a result of years at a keyboard. And it’s not just me. As my trainer said a few weeks ago, “shoulders are different than they were a few years ago.” Digital tools are changing the way we function!

So it seems that there’s at least one major element in common between health of an individual and health of the internet: getting to a point of well-being is a lifelong process. Turn away from it and all hell could break loose (see the Mozilla Manifesto #10).

At any rate, this begs the question… or at least, the following question was asked of me and my Web Literacy Leaders cohort: what does a healthy Internet look like to me?

  • A healthy internet’s wires, routers, servers, et cetera function optimally (Mozilla Manifesto #06), just as healthy bones, hearts, brains et cetera must function optimally to ensure a healthy individual
  • A healthy internet supports productive work, enabling us humans to utilize the web for the tool it actually is (Mozilla Manifesto #01 & #03) and so that we can step away from it when we need a break
  • A healthy internet is one on which everyone is welcome to participate without fear of recrimination or abuse (Mozilla Manifesto #05 & #08)
  • A healthy internet doesn’t collect too much data on me or my movements (I know, I know, I just bought fitness tracker! With this fully in mind, I went with a company that’s already got my data via my cellphone. Cold comfort) so that I and my fellow citizens can rely on freedom from the harm that stems from biased use of data (Mozilla Manifesto #03 & #04)
  • A healthy internet is one that I can rely on to sustain my ability to earn capitalism points so that I can continue to go to the gym and see doctors as needed (Mozilla Manifesto #01 & #03 & #06)
  • A healthy internet is one in which online service providers work to fight climate change, so that we can continue to breathe the air outside and walk to my heart’s content (Mozilla Manifesto #03)

And now my fitness tracker is telling me to stand up and take a break! It’s the dawn of an age where machines can support us in partnership toward greater health… or so we can hope.