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The Internet as Plain Old Substance Abuse

By September 23, 2015September 20th, 2017Industry News

Yesterday I was walloped by an Internet Troll. Kabam!

In a nutshell, a blog post about the Pacifica network dragged NFCB into the fray and attracted my troll friend to take a shot under the name “anonymous”. Suddenly, 52 years of my life is condensed into a macabre freeze frame. NFCB and personal details of my life are instantly caricatured with the fleeting taps of “anonymous” fingers on a keyboard. Just click “POST” and you’re off and running.

I’ve never had this sort of experience before and it came on the heels of a string of days loaded with drama around smart phones and social media wreaking havoc in my community. Specifically, parents of young children are increasingly distraught by the amount of exhausting negotiation and tension in families about when children use the smart phones, how they use them, and what they post. There were no smart phones or social media when I was raising kids so I happily missed all that.

Lately it seems that there is more and more being written about a host of Internet substance abuse related issues:  the effects of screen time on sleep patterns, addiction to checking phones and inboxes, repetitive motion injuries, the list goes on. Since I got a little taste of the seedier side of the expansive and often wondrous frontier that is the Internet, I started wondering if there is a collective wave about to hit a very big wall. It’s a big wall because, let’s face it, the Internet is a 4th utility. You can barely function without it and its omnipresence happened at warp speed. There are always bumps in the road with any transformational invention…what will the bumps be with this one?

Those of us in community media are literally marinating in considerations about the digital space. We bend our brains trying to keep up with the latest and greatest of all things digital. We fret over how to raise the revenue to support the time and expertise required to play in the digital space. Often, we take great pride in cranking out good content in a miraculous multiplatform setting that expands our audience and our connections in new ways.

As we navigate the digital conversations ahead I hope we (and the distraught parents and children in my community) will include some time to get real about a full spectrum of considerations. The Internet is a powerful substance to take in. The line between use and abuse is a very fine one; just like love and hate.


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