Volume 94, Issue 89

Friday, March 9, 2001


Editorial Board 2000-2001

The Net brings some unique problems :)

Editorial Cartoon

The Net brings some unique problems :)

With every new medium there are a number of inherent problems concerning how it is used, and often abused.

The television set created a generation of couch potatoes, and the Internet now seems to be creating a subculture of Net junkies able to exist in their own self described worlds.

While the Internet has allowed society to communicate over any distance from the comfort of our own homes, it has also created an environment that can be easily manipulated and often distorted to represent any desired appearance.

You can be 20 lbs lighter, more attractive, wealthier. You can be whatever you want, and all without ever having to consider any of the consequences that you would otherwise have to deal with in reality. On the Internet you can create, and delete identities at a whim.

Say something wrong? Delete and start again. Rub someone the wrong way? Simply exit the chat room and return as someone new.

And make no mistake about it, the Internet is a diluted form of reality. It lacks any of the substance that eventually develops into a healthy relationship between two people. As clever as a smiley face created from punctuation is, it's no substitute for tone of voice, pronunciation or body language that conveys unique, personal understanding.

In its defence, the Internet can provide a person with the opportunity to talk to someone they would not otherwise feel comfortable approaching. It can be viewed as a set of training wheels for social interaction. It also allows a person to explore the many different facets of our personalities which they might not otherwise be able to explore due to certain biases that come with things like appearance.

Unfortunately though, while you may be able to delete any of the imperfections you hate about yourself on the Internet, you still need to come to terms with them in reality.

The problem then occurs when the division between reality and the Net becomes blurred. The Internet environment appeals to people who have a great deal of difficulty functioning in society. It offers them a form of escapism where they can create an environment in which they can control everything. Herein lies the problem, and reveals how the Internet can be abused.

It is important to remember that the Internet is by no means a substitute for reality. As perfect as a person can sound online, they really are nothing more than a few words flashing across your computer screen, and no substitute for face-to-face relations with someone. On screen, they are as real as you allow them to be, and often nothing like the people they actually are.

It is important then, to remember that while the Internet is a great way to talk to someone over any distance, and represents a huge paradigm shift in our society, it is by no means better than the real thing.

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