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-- b i o --
P.L. Frank enjoys writing both nonfiction social satire and funny, thought-provoking novels.  Dr. Frank has been a researcher in the field of Behavioral and Social Sciences since 1983, and has worked as a university professor and therapist. 

They're Wrong About Us
A Razor's Edge Article

by P.L. Frank

To hear all the "experts" tell it, the Web is a virtual hotbed of hackers, spammers, perverts, cross-gendered posers, pornographers and socially-retarded geeks void of any concept of appropriate social discourse. Hopping the Web-Bashing Bandwagon are a host of psychologists and sociologists touting a doom and gloom message about the TechnoHeads Culture. Here are some of the fear-driven concerns they have about us:

We lack a "real life": The concern here is that WebHeads will become so addicted to the embryonic safety and warmth of cyberspace that we will not ever want to leave. Not only will we lack the important elements of sunshine and fresh air, but we will eventually come to a point when we eschew any form of face-to-face interaction with others entirely. Apparently these experts do not realize how many TechnoHeads must go out into the "real world" every day to earn a living nor how many of us actually enjoy leaving our computers from time to time to engage in other addictive behaviors.

We will lose valuable skills: The experts tell us that WebHeads run the risk of getting too comfortable interacting "incognito" and will lose all the desire, skills, and ability for "personalized" interpersonal relationships. Uh, excuse me, but most of us still choose to have sex with someone other then our selves and to actually touch another human-being while doing so. Enough said.

We will get caught up in too much dribble: The concern here is two-fold. First, that those people spending a lot of time online will suffer "overload" and become inundated with too much meaningless information. The second aspect is that we will engage in too much online babbling about meaningless crap.

This is ridiculous. First off, when have you ever known anyone who knows too much information? The human mind is specifically designed to capture what is salient and to filter-out all that is irrelevant. I, for instance, know the e-mail addresses of all my friends and remember the web addresses for my favorite networking and work-related sites by heart, but have long ago forgotten the addresses of lame family home-pages, the weather site for Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and the phone and e-mail directories that never have anyone's name in them (including my own).

As for too much online babbling, let's face it. The people who engage in endless babbling of meaningless crap online do it just as much out in the "real world". Take my word for this. I am certain.

We are surfing through the devil's playground: The concern here is that the World Wide Web is a virtual playground for social deviants and that regular online users are at an increased risk for falling prey to their nefarious intentions. This seems a spurious argument. Given the amount of scams, con-artists, and shysters out there in the "real world" it would seem impossible that online users would be more at risk than those folks who are computer-illiterate. Computers are one more vehicle for con-artists to use, to be sure. The fact is, however, the overwhelming number of people who bought water purification systems, got sucked into pyramid-schemes, and believed they were actually "specially selected" to buy 37 different kinds of magazines were NOT sitting at a keyboard when it happened.

The writer of this article welcomes your comments: