The Internet holds the key to a lot of things for us: entertainment, productivity, networking and socialization, to name a few. But it also has a lot of negative effects on the way we live. So what are we to do when the Internet threatens to strike? As a wise man in the elite unit "G.I. Joe," once said “Knowing is half the battle.” So let’s get educated on some ways the Internet is interfering with our lives.
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When online, you have a reputation to uphold that spans family, friends and even work colleagues. So in essence, you’ve got to be your own PR person. Still, when you’re dealing with topics that aren't meant to be brought up in a public forum, the best thing to do is to immediately move them back to a private setting. Do this quickly and you won’t develop an acute case of "Facebook rage" (which will be a thing as soon as I get a degree in behavioral psychology or figure out how to edit Wikipedia.)
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The dark world of pornography permeates more than a third of all Web-based traffic. For shame! Sometimes, that world bleeds over into ours and we must banish it back from whence it came. Pop-ups, sketchy pages brimming with viruses and spyware and frequent user's desensitization (that's right, most women do NOT like to be choked out while making sweet love in normal, healthy sexual relationships) are things we must valiantly protect against when it comes to the seedy underbelly of the Internet.
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In a day and age where the cost of transportation, groceries and other important day-to-day necessities are rising, we’re spending more money than ever on frivolous things the Internet has to offer. Sure, there are some completely necessary purchases like this sick, $5K fountain pen Sylvester Stallone put out last year, but there are also some ridiculous things, like paying for free services just so you can remove the advertisements, or spending money on things that don’t exist like ring tones, apps you’ll never need, and Farmville prepaid game cards. Remember food, clothing and shelter? Maybe focus on that.
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Facebook has added another layer onto our everyday social interactions with a surprising amount of depth. It's great for things like keeping in touch or connecting about specific topics or experiences, but it also has its fair share of pitfalls. Creepy acquaintances who tag you in pictures you didn't even know were being taken, stalking your ex, employers seeing that picture of you making mouth-love to a beer bong, over-sharing, inadvertently showing how tenuous your grasp on the English language is with your fifth grade-level spelling and grammar and other online mishaps only serve to complicate the social experience.
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Ads are an important part of the Web experience; without them we wouldn't have nearly as many Web sites and those we did have wouldn't let us access their content unless we paid a membership fee. But ads can get a little ridiculous sometimes. I can best illustrate this with two brief anecdotes:
- Recently, I watched a Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 trailer and the advertisement for it was... a Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 trailer. Damn you Internet!
- I once wrote my Facebook status message in Spanish for funsies. All my ads changed to Espanol until I posted my next status update in English. Creepy...
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You can’t go anywhere without it, so what happens when the plug gets pulled? In 2001, the American Psychological Association found that a tenth of the nation's teenagers were dependent on the Internet. Now, it’s so prevalent that there’s a name for it: Facebook. Haha, jay kay. It’s called “Internet addiction disorder” and can be broken down into many subtypes like pornography, gaming, social networks, blogs, email and shopping.
Want to see where you’re at on the interweb addiction scale? Check out this Internet Addiction Test.
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For some, it seems like their sole purpose in life is to piss you off by using the anonymity the Internet provides. Think of a person who's normally not confrontational, but will honk and give the finger on the road since driving gives them some of that anonymity... then multiply that by asshole. Part of the problem is that people are almost never indifferent on the Internet. They either lurrrrve something or hate it to death. Believe me, if Facebook had love and hate buttons, no one would "like" anything ever again.
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(Originally published on June 13, 2012.)