A Lot On The Internet Is Fraudulent Or Menacing
It's actually a case of good and bad. We see, in the present uprising in Burma, how the Internet can facilitate getting the truth out -- complete with photographs -- of what is happening. This is the good. But there are many features which are bad.
Why should gullible teenagers and others be subject to enticements by predators? Isn't there a way to ban dangerous people from using the Internet, on pain of imprisonment?
Why should we read three and four times a week that we've "won" the lottery in Britain, and one million pounds is waiting for us, as long as we make a deposit, of course, or turn over vital identification? Why, when it is plain there will never be payment, and that one is taking risks even in responding?
Why should "officials" and "banking managers" from Nigeria or Burkina Faso be permitted to tell us that someone we never have heard of has died, left $10 million, and we can have a large part of the money simply by agreeing to launder it?
Why should we be assured we can buy drugs without a legal prescription?
Why should we be subject to offers to fornicate with willing neighbors, otherwise unidentified?
Aren't drugs sold for penile enlargement a fraud?
What about these notices from banks or mortgage arrangers we've never dealt with that we've already been approved for a loan we don't need?
What about people pretending to be our own bank, asking us to verify our account numbers, or no more of our checks will be cashed? (My bank tells me they would never approach me over the Internet in that way, and to ignore such fraudulent warnings and requests for information).
What about online ordering procedures so difficult to navigate that you have to go through them two or three times and then call a contact number for information as to how to make a purchase? Why can't even the Amtrak Web site handle a discontinuous trip, or return you from a third city?
What about unfriendly messages through "anonymous" names, or messages from people you don't know, or obscure who it is by goofy e-mail addresses?
What about hate messages from Al Qaeda and other fanatical Web sites, at home and abroad?
It's a weird world out there, and it seems to be getting more threatening. It is nice to have services like Google and Yahoo and Wikipedia with endless answers to any question. It's even often nice to see beautiful women (although the naked pictures come mainly at a price). It is certainly nice to be able to read the world's newspapers and other publications online. And to send and receive e-mails from all one's relatives and friends, even those serving in Iraq or traveling in Southeast Asia. It's good many hotels have begun to set up free computers in their lobbies, so in many places you don't even need your own wireless. I thought it excellent when I was able to go to an Internet cafe in Buenos Aires and use a computer for four cents an hour.
But the Internet is an act that needs to be cleaned up, no mistake. The question is, who is going to do the cleaning, and will we end up as free as before? Or is freedom, God forbid, an antiquated concept?
Or will every choice we make on the Internet, everything we ask of Google, be stored electronically and sold to more fraudulent, or simply annoying advertisers?
My, my! And now I hear, even our do-not-call numbers are expiring. The rot is not being contained, but spreading, and commercial predators are nearly as bad as sexual ones.
Thanks to my friend, Shelly Sloan, here are two quotes pertinent to today's issues:
Robert E. Lee: "It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers. In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I am readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I will, in turn, do my best for the Cause by writing editorials -- after the fact."
Abraham Lincoln:"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale or undermine the military are saboteurs, and shold be arrested, exiled, or hanged."