Welcome to the first of many Sunday Side Quests! This is where the random tangents or off-topic discussions, articles, pictures and just plain tidbits of information will be sprinkled across the blog from me and Jei.
The Internet Boogeyman
Both Jei and I grew up at the beginning of the blossoming age of the internet. Many of the young whippersnappers probably don’t recall what it was like to hear the shrieking of the modem followed by the shrieking of your parents telling you to get offline because they had to make a call. The computers weighed so much you practically had to be a bodybuilder to move them, and the games that were so “awesome” were the equivalent of fuzzy-edged boxes moving around the screen. Man, was it revolutionary to us!
I think I was too young to really comprehend the massive size and potential of the internet. It was too new of an idea for the generation before us to really understand this mysterious device either. Remember all those silly movies where hacking was done in the most unrealistic manner and we thought the internet was magic? I swear, that’s how we all saw it in the beginning.
In my own experience, my mother was an advocate for caution when it came to the internet. I, unlike a lot of my peers, had a mom that kept in tune with the growing digital age and was aware enough to caution against the possible “boogeyman” behind the screen. But like most foolish children, I didn’t listen. I concluded that she was “too old” and “not hip enough” to understand this fancy new tech.
Of course, in my wise old age (Ha!), I look back and realize that I should have listened. But not for the reasons that people think. It wasn’t that there was a mysterious child murderer on the other side of the screen or the fact that anyone could lie about who they were by hiding behind a cute emoji and a fake picture. It was the fact that I had not applied the age-old principle of “Stranger Danger”. In my ignorance or perhaps defiance I threw away an essential component of human interaction and safety.
This led to some of the most unpleasant experiences and incredibly foolish decisions I have ever made in my life, –including traipsing across the continent for two separate instances of empty promises, abandoning my home and allowing people on the other side of the screen to influence my perception just because I thought “Well, they are from the internet and everything on the internet must be true.” It was only after multiple missteps and becoming less naive that I started to understand the true nature of my own stupidity.
I suddenly realized that there was no real “Boogeyman” of the internet. There were just people. Good and bad people. All of them logging on for different reasons. Some of them logging on to troll others, some logging on to find romance and others logging on just to game. Of course, while it is sad to admit, some were also logging on to target others. But it finally dawned on me that there was no difference between these people and those who could be found around any neighborhood or city. All of the principles of personality, interaction or consequences existed in both worlds and should have be given the same amount of caution and consideration.
So I finally realized what it took to make actual friends on the internet. I had to apply the same safety, precaution and care that I took with the relationships I cultivated out in the real world. I just had to keep a level head and take the steps necessary to protect myself, my identity, my loved ones and my livelihood.