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Computers - Friend or foe?
by Louie Parsons
Issue 11
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A couple of months ago here in Finland a girl went on a blind date to meet a guy she met in a chat room, a couple of days later she was found dead and tied to a tree. These stories are becoming way too commonplace and are treated with the urban myth scenario and the "it would never happen to me". But unfortunately, it can and does.

I have a friend who has spent the last 4 years looking for a boyfriend on the net. She won't listen to friends telling her how dangerous it is and the only reason I think nothing has happened to her so far is the fact she lives so far from the people she is seeking.

This girl is devoutly religious and is a virgin, so as you can imagine when she gives this information she receives mail from a certain type of guy. So many times she has said he is intelligent, good looking and wealthy. Well, if he is all these things why is he looking for love on a computer screen?

Why isn't he able to make his way into the city and meet people at weekends or if he is looking for a foreign girl why not travel instead of spending time in his home behind a screen living in a fantasy world of chat rooms cyber girlfriends and cyber sex? And why isn't she asking these questions herself?

Unfortunately, we don't know who we are conversing with in chat rooms it gives people a certain power to think they can be whoever they want to be to impress others and probably themselves.

Ok, visiting a chat room can be fun but some people are blurring the line between chat room and living room and, as in any blurred fantasy, people can get hurt. I don't believe in any form of censorship or a cyber big brother but we need to keep a very good eye on our children using the net. Prevention is better than cure, if they knew what was out there hunting them they would realise it for themselves.

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. - Isaac Asimov

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers. - Pablo Picasso

Electronic aids, particularly domestic computers, will help the inner migration, the opting out of reality. Reality is no longer going to be the stuff out there, but the stuff inside your head. It's going to be commercial and nasty at the same time. - J G Ballard

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