Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Good, Bad & Ugly Internet

Google Plus and Twitter aren't enough for me anymore. I've signed up for Tumblr (not sure how I like it yet), (not sure how it's useful yet), (love it), and I've delved back into my dormant Pinterest account (totally hooked this time).

My older sister doesn't have or want to have anything to do with the internet except for the games on her phone. If it were not for the games on her phone, she probably wouldn't even know what her mobile data is for. I think that's a shame. There is so much on the internet that is good, educational, entertaining and socially world-shrinking. On the other hand, there are the Kardashians. This brings me to the point of this post: the good, bad and ugly of the internet.

The Good

  • It's taught me, better than the other time I spend, that there's a difference in being known and being respected. The internet can make a star or villain out of almost anyone. 
  • People find a lot of harmful enjoyment - like my sister with the games. It sure is cheaper. Example: $8/mo for watching movies and shows in my PJs. $10.25 for one evening movie theater ticket. That's solo, no refreshments (or "Pause" button for the bathroom breaks). Nuff said?
  • It's an open classroom for anyone wanting to learn anything. People who can't afford normal portals of education can gorge themselves on knowledge.
  • It really does erase boundaries. People on different continents of different cultures, races and backgrounds can connect, chat, share and even make plans to meet in person. 
  • For people who ever wondered if they were the only ones who (fill in the blank with whatever insecurity, health problem, life problem, etc.) get relief in knowing they are not.
  • People who can't travel - or maybe even leave their home - can see the beauty of the rest of the world.
  • All the time we spent running to the store, the Post Office and bank and holding our phones listening to bad "Hold" music is pretty much done. Gift-shopping is so easy, you can check a person's Wishlist online, order the very thing they want and have it delivered - even if said person hates you and you're under police orders to stay a hundred feet from them at all times. (Don't ask how I know this.)
  • Jobs are opened up by the existence of the internet. Technology needs the tech savvy. Those tech-leaning folk (and those who run from tech) can find jobs they might never have heard about. Some of those jobs can be done without stepping foot into a shower or out of the front door. (I don't recommend that shower part.)
The Bad
  • Fame is there for the grabbing, but that fame is like any pleasure and comes in varieties: worth it, no way in hell worth it, long-lasting, fleeting, surprising or painful - and always with a consequence.
  • The internet gobbles time the way I'd gobble cheesecake if I lived in an alternate universe with no calories or gravity. (By the way, if you know anyone who uses Pinterest, slap them the next time they claim to be to busy to do anything else. That site is like choose-your-crack city. I spent two hours on there one day and almost missed an appointment.)
  • People need people (sing it, Barbra) but, sometimes, the internet is the worst way for people to meet. It's too easy to lie about who and what you really are. 
  •  Seeing our societies shallow attraction to only those who are beautiful and successful can really breakdown the rest of us mere mortals.
The Ugly
  •  Not all people (yet) have access to the internet (though more than ever before) and, sometimes, they are shoved further into a poverty - whether a poverty of learning, opportunity or of spirit.
  • It seems that just many people use the broken boundaries for bad as for good. The cowards and bullies have a bigger platform to recruit and target victims. And they use it. 
  • As far as meeting someone on the internet (for more than "casual" contact), so much can go sideways. We've all heard about the friend of a friend who finally met Mister or Miss Right via some site. Sometimes, they find out just exactly why the liar face is so lonely. Lots of times it can be funny (to the rest of us) when a real-life meet goes wrong, but too many times, it's dangerous as hell, maybe even deadly. At the least, it can be heartbreaking. That's bad enough for some people.
  • You have to be careful with what you put out there online. Most of us (I include myself here) are not nearly careful enough. Someone with enough time or money or lack character can find out what brand and color underwear you use on alternate days of the week. (And don't even wonder why the ads that pop up on the site you visit always have ads for the exact flavor of Coffee Mate creamer you prefer.)
Yeah, so...

The thing is, there is good, bad and ugly in everything. We just need to be more aware.