Redefining internet safety

Abby Karlin, Business Manager, Opinions Editor

We’ve all had that seminar, talk, or even class from teachers or parents on the dangers of the Internet. While this topic is nothing to joke about, everyone in High School right now has grown up using the Internet.  

As much as I criticize, the later millennial and Gen Z kids are (for the most part) pretty intelligent with the handling of their own information. I don’t know anyone who’s dating someone they’ve never met. I don’t know anyone who posts inappropriate pictures on their stories or timeline, and most people I know don’t put their addresses on Facebook.

The thing is, with this generation being exposed to the Internet so early and for so long, it is not ‘internet safety,’ it is common sense. Things like not putting your address on twitter or Facebook, not meeting anyone you’ve never met in real life, and not revealing any personal information like a social security or phone number. The thing is, no one can physically hurt us unless we give them access to our information, and for the most part, we don’t.

No one is going to be swayed by yet another teacher droning on about Internet Stalkers. They’ve become an anomaly in today’s world, and it doesn’t make sense to keep talking about them when what happens when using the Internet is more dangerous.

Cyberbullying, being careless on the Internet, and the mindset of the Internet are the actual issues that need to be focused on here.

Although cyberbullying is one of the more addressed issues, it is still a big problem with fewer solutions. Being anonymous is a powerful thing online, and it’s scary to have an account suddenly know things about your life, and attack you because of it.

Cyberbullying is so common these days, and it manifests itself in so many forms. It’s a simple as logging on to see a mean post, comment, or message. The thing about the Internet is that some of these people, you will never meet, and as cheesy as it sounds, you say things to them that you wouldn’t say to people in real life. Discourse is easy to find, and easy to get ugly on the Internet.

School, my parents, and my teachers have addressed this, but I think this is an Internet safety that we should take more seriously as students who are pursuing careers. Being careless on the Internet can open up so many issues for you at school, and later in life. With everyone being so paranoid these days, threats have to be taken seriously. Even complaining about something online can get you in trouble, because you know who will see it? Whoever you were complaining about.

The last issue I want to address is something I hold very personally and is really important to me. As an avid memer, the mentality of the Internet is so hostile and horrible, and at times (meaning all the time), hard to be around.

On the Internet, you don’t have to deal with real consequences, or you don’t think you do, so everything becomes easier. Attacking people with mental illnesses with things like the ‘triggered’ meme, and making generalizations about ethnic groups is desensitizing us to real people and real emotions. It’s hard to go on the Internet without being attacked in some way if you are in any way a minority.

On the Internet, anything is fine as long as it’s a joke, and that mentality is exactly the kind of thing that people should be talking about.

Generalizations are dangerous, and as much as we like to say we are aware of what’s true and not true, we really aren’t. The mentality that the Internet has developed is dangerous to nearly everyone who uses it. Opinions become fact and what is popular becomes what is right, and it has to stop.