Well, I knew that already. One of the things that I was told when I first ventured onto the internet, back in the old days of dial-up connections, was that you’re never alone. It went against all of the things I’d learned about the world up until then – you can be sitting behind locked doors and closed curtains, and yet what you do is still out there somewhere.
And that’s something which has hit the news recently. I’ve been getting emails and notifications about internet privacy, following reports concerning the collection and use of internet data. And the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation means that come May 25th, those of us in Europe will not only have the right to know what kind of information is collected, but also to see a copy of the actual data.
So – I’m not going to comment on individual cases 🙂 But I welcome an increased accountability for the way information that’s collected from the internet is used. And I welcome accountability over what people do on the internet – bullying, revenge porn, and intrusion on privacy are real and devastating problems, which affect people of all ages, many of them young. We must protect them.
But on the other hand, the internet is full of places we love to go. (I hope that this is one of them!). Safe places, where we can meet new friends, who we might not otherwise get to know. See things that we might not otherwise get to see. I used to teach a weekly class on internet use at a care home for the elderly, and it provided a window on the world. Ladies who’d been unable to ‘hit the shops’ for years, were suddenly able to take their time browsing the season’s new fashions again.
I guess, like almost everything that’s driven by human nature, the internet has its good and bad sides. And like any relatively new phenomena, we’re learning. How to be safe. What’s appropriate. How to be polite. What we need to protect ourselves and others from. For me, these are important issues that need to be thought about – but they don’t mean that I’ll be switching off my broadband any time soon. Despite all its problems, the capacity for human interaction that the internet provides us with, is immensely valuable to me.
And – here comes my ‘romance writer’ point of view 🙂 We’ve heard about ‘profiling’ and that’s a term I’d always applied to the kind of thing that the FBI did with criminals. But it seems that the practise has been extended to the innocent internet user. I happen to think that we’re all a lot more than that, though. I write about characters who, at first glance, shouldn’t be together but who are ultimately completely right for each other. There’s something wonderful about the human spirit, which defies any attempt to pin it down. We all might fall into a number of demographic groups, but those groups don’t define us. Like the characters in a romance, we all have the capacity to think for ourselves and break out of the boxes we find ourselves in.
Finally – let’s bring the discussion home. Like many sites on the internet, this blog carries ads from time to time. I don’t see what those ads are because I have an account that allows me to post on this site, but I know they’re there. It’s the price we pay – we get to run our blog for free and the cost of that is borne by the advertising. I do see ads on other sites, and I view them as something that’s necessary to cover their costs. I can’t help wondering at times why anyone ever thought that the targeted ads I see might apply to me – but then maybe that’s my point. ‘The machine’ might be doing its level best to define me, but so far it doesn’t appear to be doing all that well 🙂
What do you think? As you’re here then, like me, you obviously haven’t deserted the internet in disgust. What makes you stay?