I have just finished a really long, heated, and frustrating telephone call with my father – EG Opa. The short version is that the Internet is an evil place, where evil things happen, and only evil people benefit from it.
</old baby-boomers rant>
Yeah, I was going to palm it off as “grumpy old man say whaaat?” … But I’m one of those people who benefits from the Internet.
So naturally I felt the need to defend it, and all the other people who benefit from it without the intent of evil status (if you’re reading this, then accept that you are at least subconsciously working towards ‘evil genius’ status).
Now let’s make one thing, one very particular thing, clear before we go any further with my rant. I currently do not receive any financial benefits from my blog. Just old school wanting to write stuff.
So the first thing I asked my dear old dad is “What’s the evil benefit that I’m gaining?”
Yes, he stumbled. He ranted about evil people trying to steal information and lead people astray; corrupting young minds; and stalking my spawnlings.
No mention about my blog. Because clearly I am not on the internet.
So then we started talking about Facebook and Twitter and other social media forums. Predictably, he was back to “they’re evil, no-one is honest about who they are, they are all out to defraud you, no-one is really your friend” etc.
I am not naïve enough to think that everyone is honestly my bestie and thinks I am funny everyday (though, that day will come). However, I have received great positive benefits from online relationships – friendships that enhance the person I am in real life.
Way back in the 90’s, we had mIRC through the university servers. My first uni was a regional campus that used mIRC to connect students across hundreds of kilometres. It WAS supposed to encourage study groups, in the same manner as long-distance education. All faculties were included.
Let’s be honest – only IT geeks used it. Mostly guys. There were a few females. And it was SOOOOO much fun. I met one of my closest friends through mIRC.
When I changed universities and moved to the city, I knew where my people were: Computer Labs and mIRC. Once again, I found a group of people who were as geeky as me and made me feel welcomed in a new habitat. We started meeting up at the pub for beer o’clock and pool (billiards) – and yes, one of them was even a genuine study buddy (the only other law student in a group dominated by IT and engineering)! Still friends with some today.
Over the years, the ‘forums’ have changed, but the friendships have not. Despite the stereotype EG Opa was giving, I was not some awkward teen unable to make any friends in the real world. I was merely a multi-layered individual who enjoyed associating with a diverse group of people.
Just like you.
I still maintain a presence in chatrooms and message boards; I frequently participate in Facebook and Twitter discussions (not much else due to time constraints); I have met many of my online friends in the real world (Hi Bruce and Tracey, and tribe! Hey Clinton and Kimberley, are you going to Supanova?).
I even write with an amazing group of people I have never met in person, yet respect and admire for their own Evil Genius. They have taught me so much and guided me through a fairly steep learning curve over the last 6 months. All from their computers.
Most of all I have been able to connect with people around the world, people who I would never EVER have met otherwise and yet give me the support to explore so many awesome things: geeky interests; International Humanitarian Law; Cosplay for kids; Gifted Children. Believe me when I say there are VERY FEW people in my geographic location that I can talk to about all of these topics, and yet there they are – on my computer.
NONE of this has been corrupt. None of it has been creepy. None of it has ever been as evil as the grumpy old man would want you to believe.
I know this is all a rant (how ironic), but the main reason for this rant is to show you, my loyal minions, that you are not alone. Unfortunately there are still people who do not understand the social benefits of the internet – but I do. I DO!
The Internet is NOT an evil place where only evil benefits. It is merely a tool, like anything else. And while there is a small minority of ick, there is a greater overwhelming feeling of YEAH!
Don’t let the grumpy old man ruin that for you.
Go say hi to your online friends.
And tell them thanks from EG Mum.