Maybe. But what are compulsory, tax-funded courses teaching?

So many courses merely teach how to succeed in the online world, not how to evaluate its effect on one’s own real life.

Earlier, I noted,

Recently, we’ve looked at a number of ways the Internet can help or harm our lives. The major harm is that in a virtual world, fakery succeeds much better than in an actual world. Our lives could be guided by artificial news, and dominated by fake friends. We could be bullied, harmed, or shamed by myriad people to whom we have no connection at all. People who are not good for us who need never have mattered to us.

Teens are more vulnerable because, while they may be smarter than older adults (they usually think so), they lack the “stored, accessible” data of life experience.

Which sometimes comes in handy.

Here is an example: Recently, a fellow phoned to inform me that he represented Microsoft and my computer was at risk, as the company had receive numerous complaints about me. He wanted me to do something about that, following his instructions (which might have given him access to personal information).

All of which I politely declined.

As it happens, I am a half century older than 15 years. I know people who work for giant firms, so have some—admittedly informal—sense of their procedures.

First, I doubt that a company like Microsoft would phone me in particular at all. Wouldn’t complaints about my account be directed to my service provider*? Alternatively, mightn’t the identified problem affect all computers connected via my local switchbox/cell tower? Why just me?

But if I had to deal with that problem without life experience, I might have waffled between gullibility and cheap, uninformed cynicism. I would doubt but not know why.

For what it is worth, the only personal dealing I have ever had with genuine Internet security is in this case instructive:

I once got a call from a bank saying: This is XXXX in [xx Bank] Security. Do not hang up. …

(That is, this call is not nonsense about paying extra for gold-embossed cheque forms or something …)

The caller went on to explain specific ways my account might have been compromised on recent transaction days.

It soon became clear that the call was genuine, as that individual simply could not have known the information related otherwise. I’d be happy if students got help understanding that the Internet can create holograms but not people.

And I will talk more about the many instances of “hologram people” shortly.

*That is what is wrong with “net neutrality.” It will be used to deny access to those of whom governments disapprove, withut benefiting anyone else.


Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...