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Driver's Seat
Just say ‘No’
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This column is aimed at persons who are thinking of buying their first computer. I have some questions for you.

Do you enjoy sunsets? Do you get satisfaction from viewing a painting by Monet or Thomas Kincaid? Is your heart softened and strengthened by the music of Strauss, Schubert or Alan Jackson? Do you feel that life has few greater pleasures for you than reading a good book, or a trashy one? Are you enlightened by watching Jerry Springer or the A/E channel? Are any or all of these blessings part of your life, without your having purchased your first computer? If so, count yourself lucky. And do your utmost to avoid entering the world of personal computers. A computer will bring you all sorts of new experiences. But few of them will enrich you more than the ones I have listed above.

You should not listen to persons who rave about surfing the Web and sending e-mails around the world. What these people will not tell you is that when you step into that vast, corrupt cavern known as the Internet, you open your door to the denizens of a wicked world. When you buy a computer and hook up to the Internet, here is what you must welcome into your living room and your life:

Spies – These are electronic visitors who note every Web site you visit and make you regret it. They will send you advertisements and other unsolicited messages. They will reveal your name and/or e-mail address to thousands of other people and places. They will rob you of any anonymity you may now treasure. You can only slow down the spies. You cannot stop them.

Impenetrable languages – Computers

despise clear, plain English. They insist on using words, symbols and abbreviations that very few intelligent people can easily understand.

Viruses – Each time you boot up your computer, you are vulnerable to poisonous electronic bugs that may invade your files and cripple your equipment.

Poverty – You may believe the $500 or so you pay for your first computer is the largest cost you will encounter. But that’s only the beginning. The other expenses never end. The computer industry is determined to sell you new equipment and programs (such as high-speed broadband) that are overpriced and often unreliable. Computers get infected by viruses and spyware that cost $60 an hour or more to remove. The deeper you get into computers, the more confusing and expensive they become.

Space limits prevent me from listing even further ghouls and goblins that await you when you give your soul to computers. I write this as someone who is addicted to, and entrapped by, computers and the Web. It’s too late for me to change.

But perhaps you, Faithful Reader, are still free to choose whether or not to buy your first computer. If so, I hope you will take Nancy Reagan’s advice and “Just say ‘No.’”
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