Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Careful What You Say

I can peg myself as an old man now. I often find myself saying things like, "I remember when..." or "back in my day..." and prior to finishing the thought, I realize that time is moving on and I am moving right along with it. I see my little cousins going to school and all of them have so many activities that never seemed to be around when I was in school. I remember back when I was in the first grade, my elementary school got their first computer. It was one of those IBM machines that are probably sitting in some museum now. A mouse was still just an animal and not used to control anything. A keyboard was there of course but there was no Windows function key. Heck, there was no Windows. I was living in the age of DOS at the time. I was so excited about the computer and how it seemed to be a window into helping with homework or at least having something to play games on.

Thinking back on it it's rather funny. One computer for an entire school. As time went on we got more and more. We got to have classes in using the computer and such. I had an advantage in that my dad was always into computers despite being a civil engineer. He taught himself programming and wrote programs and games and all manner of activities. As a result, my brother and I were exposed to using the computer from an early age. I remember I was the envy of the class when I submitted one of my reports with printed pages as opposed to hand written pages. These days it's like light years ahead of where I was back then. You have classrooms where students use their laptops to take notes and do instantaneous research.

Students use the internet on a regular basis to conduct research and gather information. They also use it to keep in touch with friends. The veritable explosion of sites such as MySpace, Orkut and so many others has made it possible to claim your own space on the internet and declare it your own. What this tends to do though is make people forget just how widespread the internet is and how easy it is to find something or someone. There are a lot of people out there, myself included at one point in time, that think that whatever we write or feel may be posted on the internet, but not all that many people, other than those who care, will even know it's out there. While in a sense that it true, but it's strange how people can find you. I did a blog on Volkswagen's "Low Ego Emission" ads and I got a ton of visitors. Some read the one blog and moved on but others stayed. Still others keep coming back.

You never know what might lead someone to where you are so we have to be careful what we say. Fourteen year-old Julia Wilson of Sacramento found out the hard way. Frustrated at the situation in Iraq, the 14-year-old high school freshman posted a picture of President Bush with the caption "Kill Bush" on it. Unfortunately her Civics class had not discussed Federal crimes until the day after she posted the picture. She pulled it offline almost immediately but within 24 hours, the Secret Service was at her school interrogating her regarding her 'threat' to the President. The whole situation was eventually resolved but it points to the fact that no matter what we say in our own little corner, it's all in one big room and if you look hard enough, you'll find whatever it is you're looking for.

Now what Julia Wilson did is against the law and the Secret Service were within their authority to come and question her, however to think that a 14-year-old girl is going to get anywhere near the President is perposterous. In this 'age of terrorism' it is necessary to take precautions but to not allow her parents to be present at the time was a bad move on their part. No one can accuse the Secret Service of dragging their heels on this investigation. I have a friend whose job it is to look for fraud cases on the internet. These include online pharmacies that charge an arm and a leg for sugar pills made to look like the actual medications. Some of the stories that she tells of what she runs across are boggling to the mind. I'm content to remain in my spot on the internet and quietly mind my own business. Of course, now that the words, "Kill Bush," "secret service" and "federal" are found on my blog within close proximity, I'm sure I'll get some governmental visitors too... hopefully no interrogations though!



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