#20. New American English Words (Part 3)
Jayna Tokie Tanaka
The Internet has changed our lives so much that it is hard to know where to begin. Most people are already quite Internet literate. Without knowing how to use this powerful tool, too many dreadfully scary things can happen. Just thinking about what can happen can make some people decide not to even try to use it. In fact, I have an elderly aunt who has had a computer for quite a long time, but she refuses to connect to the Internet. She believes all the stories about the hackers who will invade your computer, wipe out all your data, and even take all the money from your bank account. However, I believe that you do not need to isolate yourself completely to be free of fear. All you need to do is learn a few ways to protect yourself, and then you can enjoy all the good things the Internet will bring into your life.
Protecting yourself from all kinds of mischief on the Internet means learning some basic terminology. Start with all the rubbish you get from your email server. You must not be fooled by all the junk mail and spam that fill your inbox every day. Of course, you must be aware of the people phishing for your private information. These baddies send out as many emails as possible offering you everything from Bitcoins to sunglasses. You probably also receive bills from companies you have never heard of and demands for pin numbers from credit card companies that you do not have cards for. The word phishing comes from the word “fishing.” When you “fish” for something, you send out a “hook” to catch a fish. The hook for people who phish is the resemblance of their mails to those from legitimate websites. If you are “hooked” or deceived by these mails, and you send sensitive information about yourself, you may end up being robbed. Of course, the best thing to do is to delete each and every one of these phishing mails. You can also set up phishing walls and use other filters to protect your mail server from being invaded by these crooks.
You must also protect yourself from the attractions of Social Networking Services, or as everyone calls them, SNS. When Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are part of everyone’s conversation because users worldwide number in the billions, most people feel a great urge to join in the fun. However, the very popularity of SNS means that there are bound to be problems. When anyone in the world can upload information to these sites for free and when anyone in the world can then view the information, the chance for a video or a tweet to go viral is very, very high. To “go viral” means that a meme (so-called because each piece of information resembles a “cultural meme” named by Richard Dawkins as a counterpart of a physical “gene”), in the form of a video, tweet, or photo on Instagram is seen by hundreds of thousands and even millions of people. For a piece of information to be seen by so many people means that the lives of these people may be affected in ways we cannot imagine. People become very famous just because their videos went viral, and as with any other cultural phenomenon, this may bode well or badly for these individuals. The bad part comes in the form of bullying called trolling. Trolls on the Internet enjoy attacking other people in the most brutal and cruel fashion because of something those people did or said or posted on the Internet. The tales of the victims of trolling who have taken their own lives are not unusual these days. However, this is not the only danger of SNS. These sites are being hacked all the time and the information gathered sold to whomever is willing to pay. You can do what I did. I quit Facebook after only about a year. At first, it seemed like a good idea. I could be in touch with people I had not spoken to for a long time, and in turn, I could see what they were up to. However, after a few months, I learned how annoying this can be. People I did not want to get in touch with asked to “be friends,” people I had never heard of sent me emails, and companies wanted me use their Facebook sites. This was too much, so I eliminated all traces of my ever having joined the SNS. If you cannot bear to be this drastic, you can be careful not to post photos you do not the whole world to see, and you can avoid posting any information like addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, and Social Security numbers. Good luck.
The Internet is so full of wonderful information and fun things to do that I urge everyone I know to use it. As long as you buy appropriate cybersecurity for your particular device and update your software automatically, you are probably fairly safe. However, there will always be people (and maybe AI) out there who will be out to get your information, so always learn to beware.
Language is so fascinating because it changes all the time. We will never be finished learning new words and expressions. There will always be imports from other countries, newly coined words to fit newly made technology, and new expressions made from the words we already know. You will probably find a new word in the next newspaper article you read.
Jayna Tokie Tanaka（ジェイナ・トキエ・タナカ）