Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 5 Issue 107 | August 11, 2006 |

   Cover Story
   Straight Talk
   View from the     Bottom
   In Focus
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home


Commuining with your Comp.

Sian Ghuznavi

The Internet is one of the world's most useful creations. It can be put to a wide range of uses, from studying to downloading games and music. Apart from these, the most common use among adolescents is chatting, either with people you know or with strangers one meets in a chat room. It all sounds very exciting but the consequences of online chatting are not always fun.

One of the worst aspects of the Internet is that while it gives innocent people the assistance and entertainment that need, it also presents a variety of opportunities to all forms of psychologically disturbed (ranging from harmless to horrific) individuals! Therefore, whenever it is used, one must remember that things are not always what they seem…

For instance, I know a group of guys, aged between thirteen and fifteen who have a particular group activity. These guys get a great deal of sadistic pleasure from this game and they target all, even close friends. One of their favourite activities is to go online and masquerade as girls. They then fool classmates who are online to actually meet people (rather than just play games like these guys!).

One time, these guys met someone they knew online. They then fooled him into thinking that not only was the person they were pretending to be a PRETTY girl, but that she was a pretty girl who was interested in this boy. The next day at school the poor boy tells the class about his “new girlfriend”. However, his version of events was, well…rather an exaggerated recollection. Needless to say once he had dug his grave (verbally speaking!), he was caught out in front of the entire class. And rightly so, as I feel it taught those boys a lesson about making up wild stories about innocent girls!

Another boy I know lives practically his entire life online. In my opinion this is actually quite pathetic. From all that he has told me (and he has bored me with many stories), I gather that there are now sites online where people can live out fantasies by “role-playing” as characters from books, movies, comics and even the person's own imagination.

This boy plays several characters on one of these websites and it's almost as though he takes this stuff seriously. This person had hardly any social skills to begin with. Now that he has discovered the world of “role-playing” he has begun to refer to the life the rest of us live as “R.L.” (as in real life!) and talks about it as though it is some distant country he hears about but doesn't think about as he does not live there and clearly has no relationship to it!)

This is not to say that all those who like to role-play online are as pathetic as this (in fact I know several people who manage to live like normal human beings AND role-play online when they are bored). The reason I think that this is bad in this case is because it has given this boy the excuse to curl up in a shell and avoid interacting with real people at any cost.

Another “genius invention” is, in my opinion, programmes like MSN messenger, Yahoo messenger and so on. Without programmes like this very few long distance relationships would have lasted, and many friends might have lost touch.

When one of my best friends left the country four years ago it was dreadful. Losing a friend is always bad, but we thought that we would be seeing her in a month. Sadly, she never came back to Dhaka. We are still, however, extremely close thanks to MSN messenger.

Yet another online innovation includes sites like hi5, orkut, WAYN or Friendster. On these sites people make a profile providing a little information about themselves. Then one can search for lost friends and so on by name or email address. It is really quite helpful. However, one must be aware of strange people (usually men!) who send you peculiar messages asking to “do friendship” or “make friendship” with you.

Therefore, it is too simplistic to describe the Internet as purely a good or bad thing. For the most part, the Internet is INCREDIBLY useful. One must just keep in mind that there are millions of loonies out there, waiting to fool and take advantage of others who are there for a less sinister purpose.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2006