An Idiot's Guide to the Internet
The information super highway has changed considerably since its beginning, when several techies spent a majority of the day just switching it on. For one, it's not called the information super highway any more. (Unless of course you're an embarrassing dad who still uses windows 95).
Neither does it make noise. When I first started using the internet when you connected it sounded like it was chewing the internal organs of your computer and spitting them back out at you. Now we get angry if we can't access the internet underground.
If you're reading this any time after publication then the advice is inevitably out of date and all the references contained in this article are meaningless, such is the speed at which the internet develops. Despite this I hope you can still read this guide, feel more confident about not getting stuck in the world wide web and avoid being eventually devoured by the spider of internet jargon.
It's nothing personal, everyone hates each other online.
The first thing to know before you enter the virtual world is that you will be abused. If you dare to leave a comment about anything online chances are that someone will disagree with it. This is all very well in real life where this person would probably enter into a reasoned and articulate debate with you (unless they are a republican). On the internet, this is not the case. Because of the faceless communication of the net, be prepared to encounter geeks and nerds with years worth of bullying abuse under their belts. This suppressed anger will be unleashed upon you as they know that the worst consequences they might face is having their post moderated. Even then they can just post it again. They might then be banned but they can just open another account. You'll just have to accept that if someone is determined to insult you online then they will do just that, and until they invent a way that you can punch people via the internet then this is not likely to change. It's best just to ignore anyone who doesn't agree with you in the hope that they might go away, much like real life really.
It's ok to click these. I put them here on purpose to seduce you:
Don't click on anything
The internet is a virtual war zone. As well as getting shot at from all angles (see previous paragraph) the online world is also a minefield where one false step can leave you without a limb, well without a computer, which some may argue is worse. Lets be honest which is more useful, your left arm or Wikipedia. I bet your left arm couldn't tell me who directed Friday the 13th: A new Beginning.
Many links will try and tempt you into falling for these booby traps whilst you're surfing the net and some key things you need to understand to avoid these pitfalls are:
- Hot single Russian girls do not want to date you
- It doesn't matter how many ducks you can shoot with your mouse, you won't recieve a brand new Iphone.
and most importantly of all, none of these websites should ever be visited, no matter how many people tell you how great they are:
Also, be aware that it may seem like your lucky day but it's highly unlikely that you are the 1,000,000th visitor to a particular website and it is even more unlikely that you have won a mystery prize. Unless, of course, that mystery prize is a laptop wrecking virus.
Speaking of which, if your browser is telling you that you have a virus and you need to click on a link 'immediately or your pc will combust within 30 seconds' it's probably best to go ahead and not click on that link.
'But what on earth can I click on!' I hear you cry. The easy answer is absolutely nothing, but if you had that attitude you wouldn't have responded to the spam that I sent out that probably brought you to this article. So instead here is my simple technique for avoiding internet meltdown. Just avoid any links, pop ups or ads that contain these words:
Free, Cool, Prize, Bieber, Won, Pic, Single, Nigerian, Lottery, Jackpot, Cash
and definitely avoid ones that contain all of them.
Online you can be tweeted at, poked or stumbled upon. These are not as unpleasant as they sound. They are all part of the phenomenon that is social media. Now, if you watch the news you'll be familiar with social media, as the Antichrist responsible for all of the worlds ills. This is of course because it's being reported by the traditional news media which is threatened by an effective way of delivering live news with the ease of a simple click. But there is some truth in the old school news assessment of it's modern counterpart.
Whilst being a hugely useful tool in keeping people connected, social media is also respinsible for keeping us connected with tools. Such as people that post 'fishing' posts begging for a response like: 'had a really bad day, feeling really low.' This of course is a valid feeling and may well be the case for this particular person, but the credibility is taken away from the statement when it's effectively being delivered from a soap box in the middle of a town square through a megaphone. Because this is the equivalent of what social media is, a public forum, and people are now losing the distinction between what needs to be revealed in this forum or what is best to be kept to oneself. For example, regular updates of eating habits might be interesting if I was a nutritionist but I'm not, so it isn't. The dilemma of choosing between jam and marmalade on toast is one that doesn't really need to have an outside influence. It's a decision that shouldn't even warrant the term decision, as a decision suggests that it's taken thought to get to that point. If you need the entire world to help you with this then you're really going to struggle if you ever have to name a child.
Believe it or not is still possible to keep private information private and it's a called an email. If you've not heard of this 'E mail' thing it's an amazing development that allows you to send messages from one person to the other via the internet anywhere in the world. What's more it's sent from one person to the other in the confidence that only that person will read it, allowing them to respond in turn directly to you and you alone. Amazing! I know.
Social media is a brilliant thing and part of the reason why, is due to it's lack of censorship but this is also it's downfall. It trusts us as the human race to be capable of self-censorship and social media is very naive to do so. On the plus side there's always the 'remove as friend' or 'unfollow' button, a function which sadly doesn't translate to real life.
To use the internet you're going to have to understand a whole new language that the young people use. Here are a few online terms and their definitions:
n00b - someone who has a job, girlfriend and life, therefore not as good at video games as someone who lacks all of these traits.
WTF - Excuse me sir, I've fallen foul to a bout of confusion.
STFU - I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
:-) - Whilst this looks like a smile, I'm definitely not smiling. This is merely a passive aggressive icon beneath which lies my desire to kill you.
Tweet - A 140 character expression of how much we all love or hate Justin Bieber.
Pwned - The past tense of online murder.
MMORPG - An online prison with many of the same features as a real prison: A lack of sunlight, minimal contact with the outside world and a chronic odd smell.
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