Got online to do something completely different and ended up logging in here, so maybe I’m supposed to say something.
First thought in my head:
The way I look at the Internet is evolving.
When I was a teenager, social media sites didn’t exist in their modern form. Forums, Usenet groups, etc., but nothing like Facebook or Twitter. Unless you made your own webpage, you generally didn’t have a brand out there in cyberspace. Sure, blogs were around, but they hadn’t really taken off yet.
And the thought of your own media online was unheard of. Well, not unheard of, but I remember sighing in frustration if it turned out the page I was trying to load had a video or too many pics on it, because that meant it would take forever. This was in the days of dial-up, of course.
And the fact was, the WHOLE WORLD was not yet on the world wide web. And it was a tamer place. You can argue with me on that point; I know it’s had unsavory content probably since its inception. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about this:
Now, the Internet has become a different kind of animal. And when I say animal, I mean wild animal. It almost has a life of its own, and what that means is that anything you post is out there forever and ever amen.
Why? Because once that picture/video/status update is up, it’s up forever. Even if you take it down. All it takes is one quick screen cap that can be taken from a phone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Most people have some or all of those things.
And what that means is that you have to be really careful what you say. Really careful what you post. Because once it’s out there, it’s out there for the rest of forever and there is absolutely no getting it back.
The kicker is that, even though we know this, we complain about the lack of privacy on social media sites. DUDE, privacy is out the window as soon as you do anything on the Internet. Say you have your Facebook set to “friends only.” All it takes is one friend and one screencap posted to another Facebook page, and IT (whatever it is: picture, video, poorly thought out political rant) is out there. You’re done.
And beyond the fact that the Internet is forever, there’s another huge problem with it. I like to call it the “windshield” syndrome. It’s like when you’re driving a car. All of us normal, nice people become total jerks behind the wheel. I’ve been there.
As for other drivers: while you may perceive them as being perfectly nice and respectable outside of a motor vehicle, if they get in your way while you’re driving, THEY ARE FREAKING IDIOTS. Right? And you are free to scream at them from the safety of your truck cab or the inside of your sedan.
Now, pretend the other drivers can hear all those things.
THAT is the Internet. Only instead of being safely ensconced in our respective cars, we sit safely behind our respective screens. And we feel like we can say whatever we want.
I’ve done it.
But we shouldn’t. Think of it this way: If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t type it.
So how should we use the Internet?
Very, very carefully. Treat it with the same kind of caution you’d afford a wild animal.
And sometimes that means you should toss it a steak and run away from it.
Always remember: it is NOT tame anymore.