I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The interweb is a wonderful place. I find it miraculous that I can find so much information and absorb so much simply by tapping in a few words and following the clicks.
I can find out about edible cookbooks. I think that in itself is worthy of a mention. I can get the news instantly, or check out where friends in far flung places are staying next weekend. Plan holidays, buy presents, source amazing products and suppliers, interact with people I would never, in a million years, have the opportunity to meet without being online.
Thanks to Mumsnet I’d never have known that Portsmouth is actually an island. I’d also never have found 2 fantastic friends and a brilliant source of business advice. Every time I log on I learn something new, whether that’s to do with keeping an open mind, finding new books or films to check out, taking on board the views of others, or being inspired to try something new.
From Twitter, I’ve already begun to make connections both business and personal, and it’s revolutionized the way I access news. I’ve been asked to review books and test recipes; gained recommendations on where to go and what to do when visiting new places; and the real time nature of the beast I find compelling.
Even blogging. It’s surreal. I started this blog for me. I never, actually, thought anyone apart from a couple of friends I’d bribed into signing up with wine and cake would bother reading it. Within 3 months I’m astounded to be at 2,000 hits a month. Every comment is much valued and appreciated. I just hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.
My own experiences with social media, whether that be blogging, tweeting, using forums or even Facebook, have been (by and large, apart from one notable instance) positive. It does remain important to me to keep it all in perspective though; I have an inbuilt line in the sand which I do not cross with my posts on any medium.
That’s why it makes me so sad to have read Allison Pearson’s column (on my iPhone, via Twitter before you ask) about internet trolls. If you don’t know what trolling is, be thankful. And then check out the article. Where does this vitriol towards others spring from? And why is it permitted online when in real life action would be taken pretty instantly? We’ve all read the news stories about online bullying of children and teenagers. I was fortunate enough to be a teen just before the internet exploded onto everyday life. I missed out on being bullied online as well as in real life, for which I am extremely grateful. But today’s generation is suffering for it.
Should the internet be more regulated? What happens then to free speech? How is it even possible to regulate a world which is virtual? The world is becoming increasingly interactive, and cyber-dependent. Various online communities are regulated, others (by and large) self-regulate. What about those that do not regulate at all, leaving the vulnerable at risk of abuse?
Those who defend the ability to be able to say whatever they want online often say that ‘it’s just words on a screen’. But someone wrote them. And that, to me, remains miraculous and should be respected.