I was reading a little further on in Levinson’s book and another though occurred to me after getting most of the way through the book. In Cyberspace and Communication one of the articles (I forget which at the moment) made a point of discussing how the internet makes people feel that they are in a safe environment because they can control it. Levinson brings up an interesting point in his book that can heavily influence the “safety” of the internet. Whether it is good or bad, one of the main attributes of the internet is the user’s ability to remain completely anonymous, if they choose to, by using fake names and multiple user accounts. The individual can literally become anyone they want in the online universe. Though at times this may sound appealing to some people, this very fact goes completely against the proposed feeling of “safety” and control. In a virtual world in which people can present themselves in any way possible, how do internet users not expect that they will be taken advantage of or fooled in some way.
I know this will sound terrible, but the story about the mother who took revenge(through MySpace) on the child next door for abusing her daughter made me mad. The story is terrible and the perpetrator deserved to be convicted. At the same time, the mother was guilty, but blame lies elsewhere as well. The internet can’t be blamed for this outcome in the same way that video games can’t be blamed for violence in children. It is not the mediums fault but rather how we treat it. The internet is not a safe place, and now we have young children who are growing up with computers before they are even in school. The internet has become such an accepted tool that no one stops to consider about the dangers. No organization or classes have been formed to actually teach younger children the dangers of the internet. I don’t fall back on blaming parents, but maybe it’s up to someone to teach the younger generations, and even older generations, that all is not safe in cyberspace. Maybe cyberbullying is an issue and bad things happen on the internet, but people willingly walk right into the problems because they dont consider the medium and how easy it is to be fooled. Instead of surrendering blindly and extolling the virtues of the new new media, we should scrutinize and consider the dangers as well as the positives.