7 Myths about the Internet

I always feel a little funny when I describe my work life to people who don’t use the web much. There are so many misconceptions about what goes on online: that it’s somehow dirty, that it involves fake social interactions, even that it’s slightly deviant.

Apparently the Italians share some of these misconceptions about Internet usage with their U.S. counterparts. Here’s a video of a speech by Italian TV host and blogger Marco Montemagno describing myths Italians hold about the Internet and identifying Web 2.0 opportunities for businesses. It’s in Italian with English subtitles, which makes it all the more charming. [RSS subscribers: Click through to watch video]

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[via David Weinberger]

Below, I’ve listed the seven myths that Marco identifies and suggested a couple more I’ve encountered myself.

It’s dangerous. You have to be careful how you use it. Montemagno: “In 1800 they said the same thing about the railroad: a nice but dangerous invention.”

It’s difficult. You must be the “Kasparov of the Internet” to figure it out.

It’s filled with pornography. Yes, I know you are online all day… but what are you really doing?

It’s for deviants. There are very strange people on the Internet. One must be very careful — people like us don’t surf the web.

It’s untrustable. You never know what might happen. One day the servers are up — the next day down. It’s fragile and not dependable.

It isolates you. If you use the Internet you’ll alienate yourself from society as you become an alien.

It’s virtual, not real. “There we are staring with gloomy eyes at something that doesn’t exist.”

I’d add two more to Marco’s list:

It’s addictive. It can’t possibly be healthy to spend all that time online.

It’s narcissistic. Blogs and Twitter and other so-called “social” web tools are for people who only care about themselves.

Fortunately all those are just myths (okay, maybe with little bits of truth in them). While there’s plenty of bad stuff online — just like offline — the web offers a wealth of opportunities for learning, working, and connecting.