The Internet is a great way to travel without leaving home. Introverted or agoraphobic people have a chance to new people without going having an anxiety attack. One can go on YouTube and find videos of virtually everything.
You can even find information and videos about your favorite shows before you see them. Can you say spoiler alert? Unfortunately you may not always like what you find. The world wide web also brings with it a load of problems.
One misspelled word can bring up hundreds to thousands of sites and information that can never be unseen in the mind’s eye. If you’re not careful enough or are unaware of what’s out there you may infect your electronics of choice with a virus or overload it with trackers from various websites and web browsers that can slow down a computer enough so it is no longer useful.
You even have to be careful of clicking on links you receive in emails from trusted friends and family members. Hackers can steal identities easily with the click of a few buttons. Bank and credit card accounts are also more vulnerable with Internet accessibility.
Now there are reports of cyber-bullying, which has led to suicides. Videos and pictures of people, adults and children, are proudly posted to the Internet.
However, the easy availability for predators to reach their prey is what scares me the most. We’ve all heard of the Craigslist Killer as well as other well-known cases of kidnappings and murder where the victim or victims met the perpetrator online.
In 2003 Actress Annie Potts, best known for playing Janine Melnitz in “Ghostbusters” and Mary Jo Shively in “Designing Women,” made a TV movie called “Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story” that brought this point to light.
Julie Posey’s daughter was approached by a pedophile in a chat room online. Unfortunately at this time there were no laws to protect children from this sort of thing. The scene I remember most is her confronting a police officer, and he told her nothing could be done — it was free speech. Her reply, “Well God Bless America, but keep him away from my daughter.” Julie took it upon herself and went to great lengths to lure the pedophile out and he was caught.
I bring this up because a story similar to this happened right before Thanksgiving in Bay Point Calif. A well-known registered sex offender who had been chatting with an under-age girl on the text application was found in her bedroom closet. He has been arrested and an investigation is under way.
The Internet in itself is not a bad thing. It has great possibilities both informational and just plain fun. Have you seen the dog in a spider costume running around town at night yet? Social media sites are a great way to meet new people or get in touch with family members around the globe. I myself have spoken with cousins I have not seen in about 10 years or more.
Sites like Ancestry.com can help you find information about your family members so you can create a family tree and share with future generations. Google.com can help you search for just about anything in the world including yourself.
How you choose to use the Internet and its vast knowledge is up to you of course. But be mindful of the dark side of the Internet. We all should become more hyper-vigilant about attackers of every nature in this information age.
Everyone should be more careful about their own safety as well as the safety of their loved ones. I agree with Julie, God bless America. But let’s keep our children, and ourselves, safe.