As you know, I am not a Luddite. I have embraced technology throughout my life. I built my first computer in the 1970s because there were no commercially available personal computers. I still love building things that are electronic. Many of the magazines I read are technically oriented.
I was one of the first people on the internet, using dial up to a Cleveland University, which had 88 phone lines available to connect with the internet. Like most people, I found the whole idea exciting. As a ham radio operator, talking with people in different countries wasn’t a new experience, but through the internet I could choose groups by area of interest, which was fun. As the World Wide Web developed, it augmented trips to the library while I was in graduate school—especially attractive when my university was about 50 miles from my home and the snow was piling up fast.
But then it turned ugly.
I avoid many sites—especially Facebook and Google because they track people and collect information that I may not want to share, especially without my knowledge. I don’t have Alexa because I’ve seen too many possible examples of Alexa listening in on conversations. Is it a coincidence that when someone is talking about fishing, for example, the next time he logs in, a popup ad for fishing gear pops up on the screen?
I have seen so much wrong information without even looking for it.
To add to the confusion, many people have never developed critical thinking skills—our education system is based too much on writing on the exam the words that the teacher and/or textbook said. A photographic memory will be a blessing at school, but a curse thereafter. As more than one professor has said, “Education is the process of getting words from the teacher’s notebook to the students’ notebooks without involving either’s brain.”
Students may find a term paper online that suits their needs perfectly and turn it in as their own work. (Of course, teachers can run the text through a different web site that compares this paper with what is available online.)
Do you believe that there are Jewish space lasers controlling the world? I hope most of my readers do not.
The greatest ill from the internet is anonymity. People will write things anonymously that they never would otherwise, because there is no risk. They can be obnoxious, rude, lying, and nasty. One could say that the internet brings out the worst in people and I believe that in some—perhaps many or even most—cases that is true.
It disappoints me that our species is like this.