Sunday, 25 May 2014

The internet: help or hindrance to my MS?

I  remember 18 years ago the Internet was in its infancy.   I remember talking about it to my then boyfriend who was an early adopter and already tinkering with it.  I thought it was quite nasty and annoying and would not catch on.
To say that I was wrong would be quite an understatement!

18 years later and the world is unrecognizable. It has shrunk to a fraction of its former size, and people in Scotland can communicate with people in Dubai in nanoseconds.

The Internet has undoubtedly compensated for my MS limitations enormously. Thanks to Internet shopping I have been able to do my weekly grocery shop online for years and feed my growing family whilst being unable to get round a supermarket. Through my laptop I have had a window on the world and a connection to the rest of society that I would not otherwise have had. I have been prevented from becoming isolated.

I have purchased clothes, equipment, tickets, holidays ... you name it,  freely and easily. I have had access to information that otherwise I could only dream of. So the internet has undoubtedly been of incalculable benefit to people like myself with a disability.

If you sense a 'but' coming that's because there is one.  Because for each benefit there is also a corresponding drawback. Take communication for instance; for every budding love relationship forged over the Internet, there is a 'saddo' somewhere who cannot talk to real people face to face but can only communicate and make friendships from the relatively 'safe' distance of cyberspace.  This is an impersonal, electronic world that has no heart and no feelings and therefore does not care. It seems to reflect only the status quo and is therefore inherently conservative. Thus, in a man's world, pornography and images that denigrate women are everywhere. The very worst aspects of humanity are depicted online: images of people doing unspeakably awful things to others. The Internet will tell you how to go about murdering someone, how to build a terrorist bomb or where to find other people who enjoy looking at images of paedophilia. It is far less often a tool for good than an instrument for evil.  It is almost impossible to regulate and is anarchic by nature.

These things should not prevent us from using the Internet where it helps us, but it is as well to be aware of its pitfalls. We must remember that it is our slave and not the other way around. Nor should we make the mistake of imbuing it with a personality or a moral code for it is not human and has neither.

My advice is use it carefully and wisely and be realistic about its limitations.  I tell my kids the same thing!

That way you can enjoy the benefits whilst hopefully avoiding most of the pitfalls.  One thing is for sure though
  - you cannot avoid it!

Henrietta Whitsun-Jones

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