What I Learned At Work Today

As Executive Producer of a television news Web site, I get paid to play on the Internet all day. Seriously, my job requires me to be logged into Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other Web sites that most companies block their employees from accessing from their work computers.

Having access to all this information teaches me valuable lessons that you just can’t learn in school.

Here is a sampling of a few things I learned in January:

First call 911: An eyewitness to the recent US Airways ‘miracle landing,’ wrote in an online blog that he was uploading photos of the plane in the water when he realized perhaps he should call 911 and tell them a jetliner had just crash landed into the Hudson River.

If you see breaking news happening, grab your cell phone and call 911 before you start uploading photos to a news organization’s Web site.

A bad economy breeds bad crooks: I recently published a news story that featured surveillance video of a group of thieves robbing a store.

While the robbery was in progress, security cameras were transmitting crooks on large screens throughout the store. In one shot, one of the bad guys look up, sees himself and wave.

If you find yourself waving at a camera that’s recording you breaking the law, perhaps a life of crime is not for you.

I love my dog but …: A South Florida couple loved their deceased dog so much, they paid $150,000 to a laboratory in Korea to have it cloned. I am not passing judgment on the people who did this. But if you have that much money to burn, here’s a much more constructive suggestion for keeping your pet’s memory alive. Rescue an abused or abandoned animal and give the money to the shelters and rescue groups that need it.

Internet symptom checkers can kill you: During a recent annoying bout with tearing eyes, I turned to the Internet to check for possible causes. One Google search later, I was convinced I had Rinderpest, an acute, highly contagious viral disease with no known cure. Every Web site I searched confirmed my self-diagnosis.

Fortunately, a friend pointed out a small detail I had missed completely. Rinderpest is found primarily in Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. And only cattle suffer from this disease.

You’re not alone: No matter how obscure your interests, or how unique you think you are, there’s a group on the Internet of likeminded individuals. Here are a few groups I recently found on Facebook:

National New York Yankees Haters Society; Women Who Hate Shopping; Knowing all the words to the sound of music-DOESN’T make me uncool; I hate my thighs and knees.

Try it. Search through Facebook groups and see if you can’t find at least one other person like you.

Perhaps that’s why, despite all the negative things you hear about the Internet, it’s addictive properties and how it’s killing the family, people cling to it like a lifeline.

At the end of the day, going online guarantees that in a big, bad, lonely, impersonal world, you will never be alone.

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