Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Dangers of the Internet

We've heard all about them. Predators. Abusers. Lurkers. Schizophrenic sociopaths.

However, ponder for a moment that neither Ted Bundy nor Jeffrey Dahmer nor Richard Speck had the internet. Nor did the Hillside Stranglers nor the Boston Strangler. They just lurked right out in the open, so to speak.

This weekend, say some, I took my life and the lives of my children and put them in potential harm's way. I invited a female friend and her daughter to my home for the weekend -- a friend I met over the internet.

We bonded over Barry Manilow via blog (i.e. LIKE THIS ONE) and an on-line fan club (www.manilowsmidnightdreams.com). Now I'm sure Mr. Manilow has his share of lurkers, but I'm still here. And I know my kids are still alive because there's no food in the house.

Oh, I know what you are thinking. Yeah, first Barry Manilow. I like Mr. M and we've gotten past that already, haven't we? Now, on-line interaction.

I'm not suggesting that you "converse" with a blogger and invite them for dinner. And none of this applies to anyone under 21 years of age. But I am saying that probably the percentage of bad outcomes is the same for internet interaction as it is for the population as a whole. In other words, there are nuts everywhere. Every day you walk out of your house is a crapshoot. You meet nice people and you meet raging lunatics. Think of your work environment. It's probably safer to invite an internet Manilow fan over than it is to work at the post office ("nothing against the USPS," she said with all love and affection).

It is necessary to use a little brain power, instinct and caution. And while we originally bonded over Manilow, we got to be good friends by sharing stories about our fears and our hopes and our lives. Yes, I could have been a good liar. So could she. But after about a year of "type talking" and a couple conversations on the phone, well, it was apparent that we had many of the same likes besides Manilow singing "Here at the Mayflower": (a good laugh, writing, reading, taste testing tequila, and maintaining our Mother of the Year status) and dislikes (liars, bullies, bigots and my ex-husband). We also share that most beautiful title of all: smart-ass.

Bottom line? We had a wonderful time. The internet brought 2 friends together that never would have met. I'm very grateful for this little cable that connected the 400 miles between us....and of course, Mr. M.

So to my new dear friend and her sweet little angel daughter -- This One's For You.


redcat said...

Lara, Lara, Lara....what can I say? I am flattered and honored to receive such high praise. I had THE best time I've had in a long time, thanks to your hospitality, and your adorable children. And, to reiterate your point, I have met MANY people via internet and blog...I'd give it a 98% success rate for normalcy...but you are truly the diamond of them all. My friend.

I won't kill you in your sleep until the second visit, promise.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Sheesh, Lara, my whole involvement with Metallica came about because I wanted to meet in person the people I was hanging out on a bulletin board with. I wanted to meet them, so I threw a party. Three of them. Big ones. Kirk and Lars came to the first.

If that wasn't enough, last year, I had a bunch of friends from a book site descend on my house.

I'm going to invite all my groupies to join me on vacation next month.

And at the Romantic Times convention next ... whenever, I think I'll have a West of Mars event of some sort so I can meet more of you guys.

Live your life with caution, not fear. My life's been richer for the online people I've met over the past seven or so years.