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Has The Internet Gone Too Far?

Aug 5, 2008
It is hard to imagine in this day and age how we ever survived without the Internet. An incredible amount of information is now at our finger tips and all we have to do is push a few buttons and click the mouse several times. What could be easier. Within seconds you can find anything, from the latest news stories to the best places to go on holiday.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN are names familiar to most, as are social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, Hi-5, Friends Reunited and MSN Live Messenger. Internet chat rooms are thriving, e-mail has taken over in the home, as well as in the workplace and if you have never spent a night laughing at the weird people on YouTube, reading articles on Wikipedia or buying, selling, auctioning and bidding on eBay then where have you been? Everyone seems to be caught up in this rapidly advancing and expanding cyber world.

The question is why not?

The Internet can be extremely informative if used sensibly, e-mail is incredibly fast and efficient and social sites do indeed help people keep in touch, without the costs of a mobile phone. It is now easier than ever to book a holiday online or to buy theatre, cinema or music festival tickets.

Sites such as eBay allow people to sell all sorts of things and buyers can look for both specific second hand and new items they may not be able to find, or afford in shops. You can scan through all the pages for hours searching for the cheapest goods on sale, or can try and get a ridiculously cheap bargain by taking part in an online auction. This way you can control how much you are willing to spent and who knows, you may end up buying something you have wanted for ages for only 5p.

So, what could possibly be wrong with this popular and modern craze?

Take Facebook for example, how many times have you heard people boasting about the fact they have 300 or 500 friends. How is this possible? Surely this simply means that they have 500 odd people who have the ability to snoop into your life activities and if you don't censor your profile, they can find out a lot of information about you. Furthermore, if you are not careful with the details of your settings, the whole Facebook universe can send you a message, poke, see your profile picture and even your photo albums. This is a scary thought. I am not denying the fact that I have an account- after all it is very addictive, but I only accept people i actually no and have stopped people I don't no bothering me or viewing my photos. If I want you, as a friend, I will add you.

Then there is YouTube. Whilst many of the video clips are informative and interesting others are purely ridiculous. Is it fair of us to laugh at the fat kid on a roller coaster, the Grape Lady, or Speak The Hungarian Rapper? Are we not just exploiting people for our own entertainment on a world wide scale? Again, I am not saying that I do not log onto YouTube and watch these videos- I even laugh at them, as many are very funny. However, when I stop and think for a minute, what I am watching can be considered a form of bullying and humiliation regarding the people concerned. YouTube is monitored, however, where are the boundaries drawn?

Take a look at Wikipedia. A very interesting web site with a lot of articles filled with fascinating and thought provoking facts. Nevertheless, often there are many statements made, which are not backed up with a source. Although, it is usually stated when the source is missing, be careful not to read everything as absolute truth. If you are interested, back the statement you have read with further research. For instance, read credible historians books or look for original or officially documented facts.

What about eBay? A massively successful buying, selling, auctioning and bidding online business. Nevertheless, have things got out of control? Take for example the man who recently sold his life online because his marriage broke up. He sold his three bedroom home in Perth with everything inside it, including his Mazda car, motobike, jet ski and even parachuting gear. His life package unbelievably incorporated an introduction to his friends and a trial run in his sales assistant job at a rug shop. To me this is completely mental, again, although this site is monitored, where are the boundaries drawn?

On an increasingly serious note, the vast amount of disturbing sights easily accessible on the web, is a clear problem. You may be innocently searching for something and be plagued by obscene links and descriptions making you feel quite uncomfortable. It is becoming increasingly important to block inappropriate sites from your PC, especially if your children are using the web too.

Then there are internet chat rooms. Although they seem innocent enough, people can take on any personality and identity they desire, without the person they are talking to knowing. This has proven to be very dangerous, particularly when young girls arrange to meet their new "friend" or "lover" to find out that they are fifty plus, with questionable intentions.

If you are a parent it is always important to know exactly what your child is doing and posting on the web. Make them aware that they should never post flirtatious photographs or give contact details away over the internet- not even to friends, as these may end up in the hands of people they don't want.

All in all, whilst the internet is an extraordinary invention and one that helps run today's modern society significantly, it must be respected. Whilst there will always be people who push the boundaries with crazy, e-Bay sales and funky YouTube posts, that are themselves morally questionable, there are more dangerous aspects of the web, which need to be bought to people's attention.

People need to be made more aware of it's dangers and to know, without question, what to avoid. EBay and YouTube usually have good safety filters, however, web searches can be dangerous, as they can lead you to sites, which are disturbing but remain on the web. Chat rooms can monitor conversations but not who is talking. Chat rooms are therefore extremely dangerous and social sights could potentially encourage serious stalking if not used correctly. The internet can be fun and informative so long as people are aware of the real dangers.
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