Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Internet Did NOT Ruin Your Life

I'm an old school computer user from the days of acoustic coupler modems and CompuServe. I even had my own BBS. Eventually, Fidonet came along and we were able to communicate across the world (if you didn't mind waiting a day or two for a reply).

Our local BBS community had a forum for swapping insults. It was called the BBQ. For the most part, it was good natured ribbing but, on occasion, someone would have to be slapped down for taking it too far or too seriously.

When I first started on the Internet, it was all still text based and using the vestiges of the old BitNet and ARPANet. Your browser was Lynx and your search engine was Archie. There wasn't a lot there yet but you could share e-mail, find pictures and access data from NASA (which is why I got access). 

Today, everyone is connected to the Internet and social media has exploded beyond anything we could have imagined back in the days of UUCP. Some folks claim that the Internet has caused them all kinds of problems. There is even a show about it on the Sci Fi* Channel.

Yes, there is a show called "The Internet Ruined My Life."

Got some news for you, Chuckles.

The Internet didn't do it. You did that all on your own. 

Maybe you got in an argument (what was called a flame war in the old days) and you didn't get out of it before it got out of hand. Maybe you posted pictures that were compromising. Maybe you uttered something about your employer that got back to your boss and now you're back living in your parents' house because you got fired. Maybe you aired some of your dirty laundry and it's come back to bite you in the ass.

Regardless of the scenario, the Internet didn't make these things happen.

You did.

Granted, before the Internet, when you made some kind of social blunder, it tended to stay local. You might be a pariah in your small community. 

However, today, that community is worldwide and reaches billions of people.

That means you have to be more careful in what you say and what you reveal about yourself. Yeah, you're responsible for what goes out there.

And you're entering a world where people hide behind the anonymity of the computer screen to say nearly anything. So if you're going to put yourself out there, you'd better develop a thick skin and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

Ultimately, what happens to you on the Internet is your own responsibility. So take responsibility. 

Don't blame the Internet. It didn't ruin your life.

You did.

*I refuse to use that non-name some marketing genius concocted.