Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Internet Reality Bites

Two articles from The Christian Science Monitor on some of the realities of the internet revolution:

  • The Internet hasn’t reeled in everyone yet

    Once it was edgy and cool. Now the Internet has settled down into a comfortable middle age and become merely … indispensible.

    After spiking in the 1990s and early 2000s, the percentage of adult Americans online has leveled off in the past two years at 63 percent, says a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That percentage is expected eventually to rise, but not as quickly as some had imagined.

  • Internet bullying

    For one middle-school girl it was a rumor, circulated via text messaging, that she had contracted SARS while on a trip to Toronto. She returned to school and found nobody would come near her. For an overweight boy in Japan, it was cellphone pictures, taken of him on the sly while he was changing in the locker room and then sent to many of his peers. And for Calabasas High School in California, it was a website – schoolscandals.com – on which vicious gossip and racist and threatening remarks grew so rampant that most of the school was affected.

    The actions themselves – rumors, threats, gossip, humiliation – are nothing new. But among today’s adolescents – a generation of instant messengers, always connected, always wired – bullies are starting to move beyond slam books and whisper campaigns to e-mail, websites, chat rooms, and text messaging.

  • So, what they’re saying is that while the internet is becoming a powerful force in our society, it’s not gotten everyone on board; and thanks to cyberspace, we now have virtual wedgies. Ah, humanity.

    [Note: I had this post all ready to go when Blogger cratered this morning. Reminder to self: draft in Word first.]