The internet can be a wonderful tool, but it is just that… a tool. As a tool it is neither good or evil in itself, but can be used for either.
With the advent of the Internet Age, we now have access to more information than ever before. We also have access to that information quicker than ever before. Now it is possible to watch news stories as they are still unfolding. This often results in misinformation going out before all the details have yet to be learned.
It is now also possible for anyone to declare themselves a journalist, writer or online personality and start sharing news or opinions through blogs, podcasts and other online media. With this we find the lines between trustworthy sources and not so trustworthy ones being blurred.
Add to the above the possibility of anonymity online paired with social pressure and things can get out of hand quickly. If you read and believe everything that comes across your screen you find yourself at some time or other experiencing extreme anger or fear.
So how do we protect ourselves online?
- Remember when you access information via the internet from your home, you are inviting people, information and events into your home. You are inviting strangers into your home, your head and your heart. Guard your home as well as your head and your heart. Don’t allow things in through the computer that you would not allow in through your front door.
- Carefully screen and select breaking news, headlines or other information coming to you. Some days there is just so much going on that if you get alerts or headlines on your homepage you may get quite overwhelmed. Choose the types of stories you really want to follow and the sources you trust.
- When tragedy strikes, which is becoming all too familiar, do not stay glued to the story for hours or days, soaking up every little detail. As difficult as it may be, life does go on. The news can stop you in your tracks if you let it.
- Choose your online “friends” and people you “follow” carefully. We all know that many online friends are actually strangers right? They may not even be who we think they are and many certainly do not have your best interest in mind. As an artist and writer I have two different types of social media accounts. First, I have the public ones for the creative work I do, such as my Facebook Page. Then I also have my personal Facebook account which I limit mostly to family and neighbors. I have a small number of followers and they get to see the real me. I might share anything from my favorite recipes, to my current art projects, to catching up on family news, to updates on Bob’s health, to political views (yes, I do have them). My other social media accounts are much less personal.
- Avoid jumping on “bandwagons” and getting caught up in emotional “mob scenes” online. Don’t find yourself following an angry crowd into doing or saying something you would never do on your own.
- Bookmark or subscribe to your go-to websites and blogs for positive news, articles and encouragement. There are more of us out there then your might think. Of course we hope you will remember us when your soul needs a vacation.
Bob and I are quite active online. We use the internet as a tool for communication as well as information and research. Please keep in mind as you are online, the internet is only a tool. Whether you use it for good or evil is up to you.