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©2000 Zhan Huan Zhou
Updated Jan-01-2000

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The Keyboard Specialist

©1999 Zhan Huan Zhou, Fall 1998, Issue 3

The explosion of the Internet has provided global connectivity to millions of people around the world. This global connectivity makes the Internet, perhaps, the largest social gathering in the world. By means of email, IRC, ICQ, chat rooms and web pages, users are meeting electronic friends from all parts of the world. Though this may seem perfectly safe at first, there are dangers involved with meeting people via the Internet. Iím not talking about danger that leads to physical violence, but rather the mental and emotional effects it has on users their peers.

For many people, it is easier to talk electronically because there is an electronic mask in which as user can hide behind. There is no equivalent shelter in face to face, or even phone conversations. This mask gives the user a sense of security because he can stay anonymous or even assume a false identity. Quite often, a userís electronic persona is wildly different from his "real life" personality. This alter ego may be a personality that he wishes to be and thus gives him confidence when communicating electronically. There is no way in which external parties can verify that he is indeed 6 feet, 200lb, blonde hair, blue eyes and well built as he claims.

There are times when electronic communication consumes so much of a personís life that it can inhibit his personal life. Electronic friends far outnumber real friends, or perhaps his isolation has left him no real life friends at all. This can not only happen to friends, but it can also affect family life. In one study, a group of families was given a computer and an Internet connection in return for filling out weekly surveys. These surveys showed that the general happiness of the family decreased largely due to the result of excessive computer usage, most notably chatting.

The Internet is a great way to meet people and to blow some free time, but be careful. Donít let electronic chatting consume your life. Interpersonal skills are just as important today as they were ten years ago. In fact, they may even be more important today due to the shrinking number of people who actually know what to do when confronted with someone face to face. Even though much of our education is focused on the computer, remember what it means to talk to a real life person - it will get you much further in life than being proficient at the keyboard.