You're traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. You see the signpost up ahead...your next stop is...(dah DAH!) the Internet. (Insert eerie music here.)
Why is it that anytime there's new technology, it frightens people into senselessness? Take the automobile, for example. Scary stuff! All of a sudden there was this contraption that belched smoke and made this hideous sound, and the Ford guys wanted you to RIDE in it!?! Get outta here! People swore that it would never replace the good ol' horse and buggy; it would be the ruination of mankind, causing all sorts of mayhem. We laugh at that now, safe in our Escorts and Cavaliers. Twenty years from now, our children will be laughing at the idea of Boogeyman Internet. "What!?! You want me to send you something over SNAIL MAIL!?!"
Why exactly is your average Joe so leery of electronic information? I suspect that it's because of the computer involved. Three words for those guys: Get a Macintosh. The other bugaboo is objectionable content on the 'net. It seems to be a major deal for pundits, lobbyists, and legislators alike. What these people are forgetting is that racy material is readily available in every media. If you don't believe me, watch an episode of "Melrose Place" or look at the tabloids on display at your local grocery store. We can find out the sordid details of the sex lives of people we don't even know, and watch them make nasty on primetime TV, all without our rear ends leaving the sofa. Now THAT'S convenience!
Most of the objectionable sites on the Internet are pay sites, meaning that they give you a sample, then want you to send them a credit card number so you can access the really profane
stuff. Solution here: don't give your child a credit card. Another trick is to get Net Nanny or SurfWatch, or any of the other filter programs designed to restrict access to certain material.
This stuff is so simple, it's pathetic, therefore I must assume that Mommies and Daddies who raise a fuss about the Internet are merely uninformed or are letting their fear of the unknown impede their child's journey into the information age.
As far as Internet in the schools goes, what better way to learn about other cultures than to chat with kids that actually live in that country? "But how can one teacher monitor the screens of 20-some-odd kids effectively?" you ask. Easy...the teacher walks around the classroom and if she sees "Bambi Does The Big Apple" coming up on the screen, she shuts the kid down and then has the perfect opportunity to teach a lesson in self-respect. Honestly, these things take a while to load, as do all graphics on the 'net, and school computers aren't going to have the processor speed and modem capability to do instant access. It would take an awful lot of Joe Corbi pizzas to make that happen.
The big bad scary Internet is here to stay, folks. It's how we will do our banking, our buying and selling, and how we'll get most of our information. It's how we'll communicate with far away loved ones and make new friends. If that sounds frightening to you, just remember how Ma and Pa Kettle must have felt the first time they switched on their electric lights.
So put your fears aside. It's time, brave soldier, for you to dive head first into the the new era, because if you're not up to speed on the information superhighway, you're going to become roadkill.
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