Call this my ‘Ode to the Net’. Does anyone call it the World Wide Web any more? I didn’t think so. That name made the online world sound like some kind of gentle magical mystery tour, the ultimate realization of what the great prairie thinker Marshall McLuhan called ‘The Global Village’. I wonder if the famous graduate of the University of Manitoba ever imagined the dark corners we might one day travel in the digital world.
Many of you are reading or listening to this commentary online, and indeed the internet has given me a wonderful opportunity to continue doing what I love, from the comfort and convenience of home. I live online for hours each day, gathering a wide range of valuable information. But I also come face to face with a lot of the danger that’s out there in cyberspace.
I’m not talking about the really bad stuff like cyberstalking and distribution of child porn that has made life so complicated for law enforcement.
Over the long weekend I received an e-mail that appeared to be from my internet service provider, MTS BELL. It was telling me that my e-mail account was being upgraded to a “new enhanced web mail user interface”. Wow, sounds truly cool .. Where do I sign?
I was asked to give my username and password, as well as my city and country of residence, with what appeared to be a fairly strong suggestion that if I didn’t do this, all of my contact information and mail storage folders might immediately slip into a black hole on the far side of the moon, never to be seen again.
One phone call to customer service confirmed my suspicion that the message was what we now affectionately call fake news, and I should ignore it. Heavens knows what the mysterious senders were after, but I’m sure the reward would not have been a free case of beer. Chances are it might be a virus that would cause me and others all sorts of grief.
It might be a global village Dr. McLuhan, but we know that we have to watch out for the trolls who live under the bridge.
I’m Roger Currie