The Internet is wonderful, right? It provides access to a wealth of materials and offers a multitude of ways in which you can connect and interact with others. But is there a darker side to the Internet? My daughter Eleanor made me watch a film last night, called Catfish. It was about a guy who was having interactions with a girl online. He had never met her and decided it was time to. The Film4 review of the film describes it as follows:
Detailing the strange twists and turns of a long-distance relationship forged over the internet between New York filmmaker Nev Schulman and a rural Michigan A sophisticated and thrilling reminder of just how malleable the notion of personality actually is, particularly when poured into the bespoke mould afforded by the internet. Reality? Emotion? Love? In an online playground, they’re as pliable as play-doh.
The photo is of an article I came across in Granada a few months ago. It was about a survey done in Spain looking at the amount of time kids were spending online. It says ‘Why are we not able to disconnect?’ It argued that many kids were spending way too much time online and that this was unhealthy. To what extent is this true? Are we spending too much time online? How real are people’s online persona? Is there a danger that by spending more and more time online we are eroding our real identity and existence?
On the whole my interactions with people online have been great. As I have said before I have got to know people better online and met new people who I later met in real life. However, I have also had some strange encounters. For example there was a guy on fb who suddenly started liking and commenting on every single thing I posted. I began to worry that he was cyber stalking me and thought about de-friending him but didn’t have the heart. So I just ignored him and eventually he stopped. A more sinister encounter was a guy on Google chat. He started saying that he loved me and wanted to marry me. And then said that he wanted to send me a package of money to pass onto a friend, as he couldn’t send the money through normal channels. I won’t go into the details, as it is too complicated. Needless to say I decided there was something very dodgy going on, so I broke off communication with him. I guess a few strange connections are to be expected and we just have to be wary and on the look out for anything odd. And I am not even going to mention my very strange interaction with a girl in Second Life!!
We also need to be careful how we portray ourselves online; too much information can be a bad thing and I know that is a strange thing to say from someone who is generally so open online! Would welcome your comments and any experiences you have had.