When it comes to the Internet, most people are like a 19th century farmer visiting a 20th century city

As more people access the Internet using social technology, they start to feel like the Internet is their home. And for some people, it is their home, just like for some people, New York City is their home or Paris is their home. For New Yorkers and Parisians,  they know the city well, the good and the bad, and they are comfortable with all that.

What I am seeing more of as people using and complaining about social techology like Twitter and Facebook is that they are akin to a 19th century farmer visiting a 20th century city with friends. At first it seems familiar enough when they are on the train with people they know, heading from the country to the city. But the more they look around, the more they realize things are not familar to them at all, and alot of it is overwhelming and scary. There are automobiles and big screen TVs and other things that seem fantastic to them Furthermore, there are parts of the city — this is true of any time — that are dangerous, and people in the city that are threatening.

The Internet is like that too. It may seem familar to you, but there is alot you don’t know about. There are bots and trolls and web sites that are dangerous or annoying. There are ways people in the city interact that are different than how you interact or expect people to interact.

Your first response might be: things things should work the way they do in the country, or in this case, IRL (in real life). But they don’t, and they won’t. You can either avoid the Internet (something that will be less and less possible to do), or you can adopt to it. You need to realize that just because it may seem like real life at times, it isn’t. You need to learn about things like phishing and how to recognize spambots and how to deal with privacy settings and more. It may seem like a big cost, but it is the price of reaping the benefits of being in the big city. You won’t get the know all of this right away, just like you don’t get to know all of a city the first time you visit it. But you need to know enough to make your visit safe and enjoyable and worth your while.

 

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