Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Logging On, Tuning Out, and Turning Away

I am an information glutton, and so are you.: "They say we're living in the Information Age. I think they're right - whoever 'they' are.

"The Truth is Out There" - now it's easier to find than ever before.

The Internet connects millions, allows hand-holding to span across oceans and entire continents, and shares information that would otherwise be buried inside dusty boxes - forgotten and overlooked. In its simplest form, the Internet re-defines the maxim, "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

But what's in the trash bag by the curb and who does it belong to? The Internet can ultimately make anything, private or otherwise, a product of the public domain. We have become so dependant on computers for information storage that a life without them almost seems archaic, though still imaginable because our grandparents remember just such a time.

My grandparents live in small Texas town and still sleep with their doors unlocked and windows open. They know every neighbor, dog, and vehicle in a 10-mile radius of their country home. My grandparents know who has access to them. Computer users know their personal lives aren't necessarily secure, but they assume someone else is locking everything safely away, even though they have no idea who that 'someone else' is.

We trust our Anti-Virus programs and passwords; we flex these muscles in the mirror every time we make an online bill payment. What happened to knowing the mailman's name? What happened to trusting someone after getting to know them? What happened to the handshake?

Don't get me wrong, I depend on the net just as much as everyone else - it's a world of information that would be difficult to live without, but it's not the entire world. It keeps me in touch with my friends and family as well as what's going on elsewhere on this giant rock, but information is not always written in HTML or captured in JPEGs. I could never know what my grandfather went through while he served in Korea or what my grandmother did while he was away just by double-clicking a few icons on my computer.

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