Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Internet Made Me Do It!

When life goes awry, cross your fingers behind your back and point to the computer next to you.

It seems to me that any time someone does something stupid, and the internet is involved, people blame the internet, a non-sentient network of inanimate computers....anybody else see a problem?

I have prepared some scenarios for us to experiment with:

Scenario: A teen girl goes to a dark alley to meet a new friend she found on Myspace and gets kidnapped because her friend's a pervert pretending to be her same age. What went wrong?

Answer: A. Myspace or B. The Teen should have used common sense and not gone to the important disclaimer: The opinion here does not in any way condone, justify, glorify, make light of, or in any other fashion say anything about the actual events that prompted certain individuals to point an accusatory finger at the internet. i.e. I do not think suicide, bullying, or other such things are funny.

Scenario: a teen kills himself because he reads some mean things that his "friends" said about him on Facebook. What went wrong?

Answer: A. Facebook or B. The Teen had a clinical problem if he thought of killing himself, so its only partially the fault of his "friends" who were doing what kids have been doing forever.

Scenario: A man uses his credit card to buy a book from a website that he found on Google. The website offers no signs of being reputable and no way of checking its validity. The man is completely robbed by the owner of the site who escapes the law. What went wrong?

Answer: A. The Internet or B. The man is another of Barnum's born a-minute.

Answer Key: If you chose any "A" answers then shut up and get off of this computer. Maybe you can find yourself a Time-Machine that will take you back to 1985 when most people thought that the Calculator was a dangerous computing device.

If You chose "B" then you must realize that computers have become a part of a grand list of scapegoats including:

  • Communists
  • The Devil
  • Witches
  • Illegal Immigrants
  • That other kid on the playground who told me to do it

All of the problems that people like to attribute to The Internet are problems with the PEOPLE on the internet. The people are saying mean things and going into dark alleys of their own volition. Social Networking is like meeting people on the street, take the same precaustions.

It's time to stop blaming The Internet for the stupidity, frailty, and strangeness of people. We need to focus on the actual issues involved. For example: instead of banning Myspace, we should teach our children how to not be stupid!

We need to stop being stupid before the government steps in. Already, there are bills flying around that can ban all Social Networking from schools (that would include educational sites, as well as Myspace or Ebay). If people would start pointing fingers to the individuals who are really to blame, the out of date politicians can keep their spectacles on topics they can actually understand.

Or we could resign ourselves to writing new fairy tales for kids: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Internet.