To put it in the simplest terms the internet is a communication network. It is a medium through which we can communicate with one another, and it just so happens to be the largest and most versatile communication system ever created. It encompasses hundreds of other communications systems within its network, including sound, images, text, videos and more. Like any other communication system, you have to opt into using the internet, however, unlike other communication systems the internet is also a place. It is a space without location or coordinates, you could think of it as the collective thought bubble of every computer in the world, floating in the air around just out of sight.
Since the internet is both a system and a place, it is easy to draw the line between what is and isn’t the internet, because in order for something to be part of the internet it needs to be within the space that the internet comprises. If we think of the space the internet comprises as a building, then in order for someone to enter the internet they need to go through an entrance (their phone computer or other e-device), and in order for something to be part of the internet someone needs to bring it into the building in some way shape or form. So in this metaphor we could say anything that is inside the building is the internet or part of the internet, and anything that is outside of the building is not.
With this in mind there is only 1 internet. However, within this one internet are many subspaces, rooms within the building. Some of these rooms are very large and open to anyone, while others are small and private. Some claim to be independent of the building but are still attached in some way. That being said I don’t think the internet is becoming anything, their are simply more people on the internet sharing more ideas in more ways. It isn’t the internet that is changing so much as we the people who exist within it are changing, and the internet reflects this change back at us. I wouldn’t say the internet is alive yet, but I think it is possible that the internet could become a living breathing entity, in the distant future, at which point the internet might begin to change and become something new on its own, rather than as a result of our own change.
I think my favorite thing about the internet is that it feels as though it connects people all around the world regardless of race, gender, religion, or class and allows us to share our darkest histories with each other despite the distance. However, this is also terrifying because it means that people can willing share and spread hatred and misinformation as they please without facing any repercussions.