The Internet: unremarkable use of remarkable technology

The Internet will probably throw a curveball at this article before it goes to print, but one can hope that its virus-like reconfiguring abilities aren't too out of control for its creators to tame it.

Since its public inception within our very lifetimes, college students in particular have transformed their use of the Internet from a legitimate and informational tool into a vacuous tunnel of self-exploitation and salacious wilderness.

The heart of the matter is as simple as a universal adage: our actions yield our consequences, and our current behavior as Internet users is formulaic for a twittering, pornographic wasteland of the Web.

And isn't it a shame? There are millions of resources - pedagogic and recreational - available to us and instead of using them, we spend most of our time selling ourselves to social networking sites.

I recognize the hypocrisy in bashing Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, and in no way am I suggesting their banishment. But we've all heard that before graduation we're going to need to delete all those inappropriate photos and bumper stickers, and I simply wonder why we shouldn't start thinking seriously now about how we represent ourselves in the online world.

Furthermore, we are much more to the Internet than the façade that is our profile pictures - we take a proactive role in what the Internet becomes. It is time for us to recognize that responsibility.

There is a lot available to us in that vast web of resources. We can make a social contribution by donating to worldwide entrepreneurs on Kiva.org rather than sharing our petty social dilemmas with a handful of bored strangers via blogs and status updates.

Instead of viewing our acquaintances' photographs for hours on end, we can look at the world, and even the entire universe, on Google Earth and WikiSky.org.

Another example is TED.com, a fascinating Web site filled with videos just as interesting as the copyright-infringing or utterly vapid ones we can find on YouTube.

It doesn't help anyone if use we software like Limewire and Megavideo to download unauthorized content, especially when we have great sites like last.fm, Pandora radio and Hulu to access our favorite content legally.

The possibilities are infinite, but it's important for us to be as responsible on the Net as we are in reality and to respect the phenomenal tool that we rely on so heavily.

Julie McMahon is a sophomore English major who hopes this article gets mad hits on TheLamron.com

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