By Roland Watson
The last medium that I will consider is the internet, and a number of comments regarding it are required. First, the internet is addictive, and it is not real life. You should not spend too much time online. You should only access the internet when you have a specific purpose in mind, not just to surf. Also, research has shown that spending a lot of time on the internet, divorced from reality, leads to personal depression and family conflicts. In addition, the internet is full of strong and even reprehensible images, so all of the foregoing guidelines about television and film apply. It is one more source of form for your children as well. Therefore, as with the TV, their access to it should be supervised. (However, in doing this you should not be a keystroke cop. You should not emulate the surveillance of employees by company thought police. Your relationship with your children is based on trust; such actions on your part will ruin this.)
"To be blunt, the Net isn't meant for kids, and furthermore, it is not a babysitter. If your children are at a sensitive age, and you leave them online unsupervised, you are a bad parent."
- Rough Guide to the Internet 2001, Angus Kennedy, page 21
Secondly, you should be very suspicious of internet commerce, and not only because of the risks of viruses, identity theft and credit card fraud. The internet is also used, unashamedly, as a tool of consumer surveillance, and this is an invasion of your privacy. For instance, internet contests are set up solely as a means to collect personal information. You should never participate in them. Furthermore, companies regularly collect information about consumer online surfing and buying habits, and this will be used against you, specifically, to increase the power of the advertising that is directed at you. You should never connect to the websites of large companies (online dealing with small businesses, though, is acceptable), except perhaps to get their addresses for letters of complaint and to plan demonstrations. These websites are a new outlet, or extension, of their brainwashing. Our goal as activists should be to get them to fail, to get them to lose money. The internet is in fact a huge tool for the social good. It can be used positively in many, many ways: for personal communication and expression; for education; and for activism. We need to work together to prevent it from being hijacked by commercial interests, as has already happened with the TV.
This won't be easy, though. Manipulation through the internet is already common. A silent takeover of the internet by the forces of dictatorship is well underway. For example, many websites, including some of the largest search engines and portals, interject themselves between you and where you would like to go. They hijack you to their sites (or, they present search results such that specific sites, those which have paid for the privilege, are shown at the top of the list). And, they track everything that you do. Finally, as with genetic engineering, they are unchecked. (New threats require new checks!)
(As an aside, one outcome of the Microsoft monopoly is the high incidence of computer viruses. As a monopoly, the company has little incentive to produce clean code. Because of this, its email and server software products have numerous failings, which have been exploited by malicious programmers.)
To close on a positive note, though, a use of the internet for activism is that we should create a website directory of all of the world's remaining wild places, both public and private, to a very small level, and including references to all of the local groups which are working to protect them. Activism requires information, and to save nature, we need to know where it remains. Indeed, if we can sequence the human genome we can also do this, and it is certainly far more important.
© Roland Watson 2016