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It takes a certain kind of person to work on the internet.  For some (like yours truly), the web is a never-ending stream of entertainment.  News, humor, interaction, it all happens online.  For others the web is a scary place looming with horrors, robots, and giant man-eating Google spiders spinning their insidious webs.  Truth is that the web is all of this and more, and if you know what you are getting into then you will find yourself ready and able to take on the cyber-world. So this post is here to inform you of the pitfalls of the internet and how to get by them.

Pitfall #1: Distraction.

Distraction is an ugly monster.  More powerful than many would-be web heroes, distraction is ever present, always watching you waiting to dig its claws into your eyes. Distraction is a simple as a little link:

Did you watch this video?  You have failed the resistance test, better keep reading.

There is not a human on earth who can resist the call of every form of distraction the internet has.  But, fortunately for you, I am here to offer a few tools to combat this beast.  For starters, I have found that one of the most dangerous features the internet has is the tab function.  Having many tabs open on your browser makes it very easy for distraction to sneak in.

  • In order to minimize your loss of time due to distraction try not opening tabs, but opening a new window.  This will make it a bit more difficult to switch between pages, but it will also deter you from losing focus.
  • As a worker whose job it is to work with digg, youtube, and reddit (the very worst of the internet distraction engines), I have found the best way to keep myself focused is to find some wordless music with a very heavy beat.  I am partial to trance (my current favorite being Infected Mushroom’s album “Classical Mushroom”).  This kind of music is very good for maintaining focus and has improved my efficiency greatly. 

Pitfall # 2 Anonymous Negativity

This particular section is dedicated to haters and trolls.  One wonderful thing about the internet is the ability to remain faceless, however many internet users abuse this advantage.  They are hovering over every youtube video waiting to berate and attack whoever they can.  Why do they do it?  Because sitting alone in a dark room covered in Cheet’oh dust is enough to make a buddhist monk bitter.  Luckily our trollish friends are not likely to take their aggression out in any way other than an expletive filled rant about the merits of the poster’s sexuality.  Filled with confidence in their own anonimity, haters and trolls are true cowards.

  • The correct response to a flamer is not to post back trying to defend yourself in a logical and normal manner for they are without reason, number, and a life.
  • The best way to deal with a troll is to show your thick skin, leave his comment as rational people will see it for what it is, and ignore him.  Eventually he will get bored and move on to a soul who is less prepared than you.

The aforementioned negative Nancy’s are not to be confused with legitimate negative comments.  Not every person who leaves a negative comment is a troll.  If the complaint is made in a rational and reasonable way, it is not flaming (the internet term for an attack post) and should actually be taken into consideration.  In any event, whatever you decide to do though do not create a youtube video dedicated “to all the haters”.

Pitfall #3: Ease of Communication

This is a particularly dangerous little imp of the internet.  While communication has been revolutionized in many positive ways by the internet, it has become so easy to contact another person that it is almost dangerous.  How can it be dangerous?  Well for starters, let’s say you go out and have a few drinks and come back to find your Facebook profile is open.  You can talk to anyone, your friend Steve, your sister, your parents, your boss, your ex, the FBI, and even Chris Hanson (he is still out there… watching).  Some things are better left unsaid, but the veil of the internet, the alcohol induced desire to pour your heart out, and the ease of communication all create a dangerous recipe for a normally intelligent adult.  Probably most important of all is to remember that the entire world can see what you say on Facebook.  Here are some unfortunate stories of people who have fallen prey to this pitfall: failbook.com (good luck resisting that distraction).  Finally, talking to friends at work is too easy as well.  This can be a really dangerous practice and will for sure hurt productivity.

There are a few ways to resist this little demon

  • Check the privacy settings on your Facebook profile.  They are actually pretty good if you take the time to set them up correctly.  This, at the very least, can mitigate the damage should you decide to make some inflammatory posts.
  • The next solution is good ol’ fashioned discipline.  If you come home after a night out, try leaving your computer off and just going to bed.  Have a friend who is prone to being an idiot on Facebook after hours?  Remember, friends don’t let friends drunk-Facebook.

Pitfall #4: Sentience

This pitfall is, obviously, a danger to the whole world.  Think of the planet like your body.  The brain of your body is like Google and your nervous system is the internet.  We have all seen “Terminator” and we know what the future holds for us.  If/when Google wakes up the planet will become one organism and we will all be in mortal danger.

  • We must protect John Connor.