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And Now for Something Completely Different August 21, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, News and politics, Religion, Science and Technology.
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My hovercraft project is on hold for the moment. I would like to rant about something else near and dear to my heart. I spent the day having information thrust upon me in the form of Teacher In-Service Training. Every teacher in Texas gets a certain amount of it each year before school starts and usually it is viewed as an interruption to the all-important job of getting the room ready for the new year. This day and this particular training were the exception.  We, the faculty and staff, were addressed by a fellow named Mark Seguin from TBG Solutions.  He is a risk management consultant who specializes in Internet and Social Media.  To say the least I was impressed.

Ordinarily I feel pretty comfortable with Social Media and my involvement in it.  I am aware of the risks more than most people because of my interest in and affinity for all things technical.  I have been in the computer business for 15 years and the software development trade for 5 years.  I do my best to stay abreast of new developments simply because I enjoy technology and electronics.  When I say I am aware of the risks it is because I have conducted similar classes myself for various and sundry groups.  I am not sure if it was his presentation style or some bits of new information presented in a way that really made me think but this, I feel, was NOT the usual waste of time that I ordinarily view corporate training sessions as.  Having said that, I would like to share a bit of what he presented for the benefit of my readers.

If you are reading this then it is likely you are at least moderately familiar with technology in general and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Istagram, Linkd-In, et al.) and its use.  Firstly, know that I am a fan and advocate of Social Media and I believe that like all technology, it is neither good nor bad, but merely a tool to be used or abused.  Social Media can bring worlds together or it can tear worlds apart and all with the click of a mouse.  If you choose to involve yourself then you should know how to protect yourself and your family from the people who would abuse it.

As Americans we have an often misplaced faith in the world around us.  For a country so determined to leave religion behind we take a great many things for granted.  We believe that bad things won’t happen to us.  After every hurricane we see people in Florida on the news programs who are amazed that their homes were just destroyed by a storm.  It happens every year and yet people are still surprised.  People in Southern California can’t believe it when an earthquake or mudslide devastates their town.  Meanwhile people still keep building houses on Florida beaches and California hill-sides.  We have built a huge and very fragile web of interconnected pieces that can come crashing down with the slightest ill wind and yet we are still surprised when it happens.

The Internet and cyberspace are no exceptions.  Everywhere we go, in the cyber-world or the real world, there are people who are willing and able to exploit some aspect of our lives for their own gain.  Be it money, sexual gratification, or just some twisted sense of superiority, some people will try anything to take advantage of others.  The anonymity of cyberspace makes it a particularly tempting target.  You can be whomever or whatever you want.  Wanna be a werewolf or an elf or your favorite anime cat-girl, there are places to do that online.  If you are ordinarily a shy and withdrawn person, the Internet is a place where you can be wild in the extreme.  Cyberspace is the last frontier and possibly the last bastion of freedom in America.  You can be a preacher, a teacher, or a writer using nothing but a network connection and your own ability to share information.  However, you can also be a racist, a pervert, or a thug and it is very difficult if not impossible for the consequences of those actions to come home to roost.

The Internet is often compared to the Old West in American History.  Civilization was a long time in coming to the western half of the country and people were obliged to fend for and defend for themselves.  Some thrive in this environment and become more than the sum of their parts.  Others see this as an opportunity to exert power over the people around them.  Everyone was expected to carry a gun and if you carried one you best know how to use it.  There were often no police or public services to depend on.  If you had no food you starved.  I will not be drawn into a discussion of survival of the fittest but suffice it to say that people were expected to be responsible for their own lives.

In our real world today, personal responsibility is a dirty word.  We trip over our own feet and fall down in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Do we brush ourselves off, laugh at our own clumsiness and get on with life or do we sue everyone from the owner of the parking lot to the construction company who paved it to the street light vendor who made their lights too bright?  Pedophiles, alcoholics, rapists, drug addicts…no one is too blame for their condition.  It is society, the school, the church, the police, the government,  SOMEBODY ELSE!  We are pampered and policed and politely herded through life like sheep until we go online.

Have you ever gotten an email from someone purporting to be an African banker, British Solicitor, or French Lottery Official?  They want you to contact them about an inordinately large sum of money that you have received.  They only need a bank account and routing number to deposit untold riches in your name.  You have received those emails.  I have received them.  Everyone you know, with an email address, has received them.  Guess what???  If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t keep sending them.  Has anyone ever created a Facebook or Twitter account in your name and then said mean and hurtful things to your friends while disguised as you?  It happens thousands of times a day, every day.  Girls from 9 to 90 (well maybe not that old but you get the idea) are being persuaded to post incriminating pictures of themselves to online suitors who promise faithfully that NO ONE will EVER see it but them.  Yeah Right!  And then they are amazed when those pictures show up at school or at their work place.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here??

I am not an advocate for Internet censorship but I DO promote responsibility for your own actions.  If it sounds too good to be true, it IS!!  If you are not 100% sure of something DON’T DO IT!  That is the first rule of the Internet.  What’s online is just that….public…online…out of your control.  If you absolutely MUST post naked pictures of yourself then expect them to be seen by everyone you know and many more people you don’t know.  If someone promises to send you a million dollars by electronic transfer to your account, don’t be surprised when your debit card is declined the next time you pull up to an ATM because there is no money in your account.  You wouldn’t give that information to some stranger on the street but you were more than happy to email it to someone from Nigeria just because they PROMISED they were on the level.  P.T. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute.”  I am beginning to think he underestimated. <to be continued tomorrow>

 

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Comments»

1. Laurel Scales - August 22, 2013

Nothing is so painful as a status that requires that we take responsibility for ourselves. This is the major problem that so many find with God. They KNOW that someday he will hold us all accountable.


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