Internet addiction, responsibility
Well, part of it is true. My name is Mary.
I’m not, however, an Internet addict; but there are addicts out there, and, now, there is therapy for them.
A recent Associated Press story detailed one addict’s loss of his marriage and job because of his addiction to the Internet. In his case, it was Internet games that disengaged him from reality, his wife and job.
As the Internet has become more commonplace and accessible, even to those who don’t own computers, through such venues as Internet cafés and computer clubs, its domination of our lives has been amplified.
At first we worried about kids turning into pudgy zombies because they were sitting in front of computer monitors all day instead of going outside to play. That’s still a concern, but now we’re also concerned about adults isolating themselves from friends and family – even their jobs -- to spend time with their new companion: The world as viewed through the Internet.
It’s an evolving medium, and, I suspect, its present form will differ significantly from the Internet we’ll know 10 or 20 years hence.
For now, the Internet is an amazing tool with which I have a love-hate affair. At this stage, I may be a junkie, as opposed to an addict.
The Internet gives me easy, quick access to a lot of information, and that facilitates my job. For that, I love it.
The Internet gives anyone who uses it easy, quick access to a lot of information, and that may facilitate the spread of false information, half-truths and incalculable harm. For that, I don’t like it so much.
We of the print journalism breed are bound by certain restrictions that keep us honest – not perfect, but honest.
It’s a thing called libel.
In broadcast media it’s called slander.
Either way, it’s defamation of character, whether in print or broadcast verbally.
If the defamed individual can prove the allegations are false and that malice was behind the publication or broadcast, the media outlet has a problem. There is some protection for the media if a public official is the subject of the perceived libel or slander.
Meanwhile, folks not related to the media are sending out information in print via the Internet that makes my head spin.
In the last week, I have been the recipient of two potentially libelous dissertations about different individuals that were distributed via the Internet and e-mail.
There is no way a newspaper could get away with publishing that kind of inflammatory, undocumented information that, without question, is defamation of character.
So, folks, something’s gotta give.
I don’t know where it will give, but it’s gotta give.
We enjoy freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the United States, but with those freedoms come responsibilities.
The unfettered distribution of information through the Internet will, at some point, have to be subject to some consequences similar to those faced by traditional print and broadcast media.
Frankly, I want to know the source of the information coming my way so I can determine its validity. Newspapers tell their readers the sources of their information. For those cases in which an “unidentified” source is used, be guaranteed the information has been checked and verified. Those anonymous sources often are the only means by which a reporter can get to a story that needs to be told, and the reporter’s editor will go to great lengths to make sure the reporter has verified the information before publishing it.
That system of checks and balances does not exist today for the Internet. Anyone can “publish” anything online. No strings attached, and it’s free.
The free ride for the Internet won’t last forever, and that’s a good thing.
Because in this case, when it’s free, you usually get what you pay for.