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Friday, April 24, 2015

Just Be Yourself Online!

April 24, 2015

I don't argue that the Internet can be a great source of information and entertainment. You can use it as an encyclopedia, you can use it to play games, you can use it to interact with thousands of people all over the world. 

There is a downside to having the freedom to use the Internet...people who log on to knowingly cause trouble as a way to screw around with sites and play mind games with innocent posters who just want to use the Internet in peace. 

Obviously, some Internet crimes are punishable by the criminal courts. Hacking into government sites can get you a hefty prison term. Same deal with online pyramid scams. I even hear that new laws are being passed that will make punishments for cyberbullying much more severe, which is news that I applaud. 

But, what about things people do that SEEM to be legal online, but can get you into a world of trouble in the real world? 

Allow me to show some examples off to you... 

Everyone's played those games where they play online with people all over the know, games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy Online, TetrisFriends...and, we all know that during the chat rooms, there's always some moron who insults the gamers online, or tries to hit on a female gamer, etc. Online, there's not a whole lot that is done, aside from people telling these other people off. 

Now, if this were in a real video arcade (assuming that there are some arcades that survived the great arcade purge of the mid 1990's), you might have a mob scene or a fist fight, with teeth being flung one way and blood flowing out the other while scared patrons dodge loose quarters and arcade tickets. 

Being online might give you enough anonymity to make comments to people that you don't dare make in the real world, but that doesn't mean that you should do it! 

Which brings me to my next point. 

Why is it that some people feel the need to come up with more than one username for the same website? I mean, don't get me wrong here...granted, I do know a couple of people who do have more than one screenname, but in their case, it's just to reap more rewards on Facebook games that they play here, like Farmville, or Mafia Wars, or Candy Crush Saga. I don't understand the Facebook game craze, but at least they aren't using their dual names to cause anyone else grief...well, except those who grow their online rutabagas the honest way, that is... 

It's when people make up fake profiles to harass or bully a legitimate poster or cause that really grinds my gears, as Family Guy's Peter Griffin'd say. You can go on any website, and see some person whose profile is obviously fake, hiding behind their fake name to cause trouble. And, surprisingly enough, I don't know why people don't get more outraged over this to consider it a real problem. 

But, if you tried this in the real world, oh, let's make a list of all the crimes you could be charged with. 

Fraud, Identity Theft (if you use someone else's name), Stalking (if you use fake names to harass the same person), for starters. 

And, that's just the legal charges. 

I mean, could you imagine storming into a funeral service just to make light of the service or say disgusting things about the recently deceased? In the real world, this would be inexcusable...yet on memorial pages on Facebook, that's exactly what some of these cowards do. 

What else can I add to this? 

I don't know about you, but if I were to start setting up shop in a random part of town without so much as a permit, I could get arrested, or at the very least, told to pack up and leave. Yet, spammers hock their wares online all the time. And, often, on sites they have no business being on. Maybe there are some comic book fans who have a secret obsession with diazepam, but it makes absolutely no sense to join a comic book forum, and have all your posts talking about the wonders of Viagra. 

And, don't even get me started on people releasing viruses online to infect people's computers to steal information and kill computers. As bad as computer viruses are, real viruses are worse. Good luck escaping criminal charges by releasing viruses into the real world. Heck, good luck keeping your LIFE! 

The reason I wrote this note is because I am genuinely concerned. Some people who may end up being the nicest folks you could encounter on the street could show a completely different side to them online, and vice versa. I think that there should be more done to ensure that going online is as safe and pleasant an experience as possible. If that means really cracking down on security measures, that's fine. 

Just remember...some of the stuff that you may think is funny in an online setting, can get you 15 - 20 years in prison on the street. 

Just be AND off.  But within reason.  No need to share your Social Insurance Number with the world!

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