The Web Won’t Give You Cancer

Everyone has a story, a friend, a relative – everyone knows someone who has had or is fighting cancer.

Three friends from high school had it, one of whom works in the office next to mine. Another colleague just learned her mom has it. My dad died from it and I dodged it though I still feel the effects almost every day.

I don’t know why any of these people got cancer, why some can smoke and live to be 100 while others eat their vegetables and die young. But I’m pretty sure the Web won’t give you cancer.

The Web can do a lot of things, great things – it brings people together, makes work easier and global.  And, not to be overlooked, it can reconnect you with people from high school who once tried to stuff you in a locker but now want to be your friend and update you on every lame detail of their lives.

As most of us now know, the Web (in this case, the overwrought and misleading term “social media”) can sell t-shirts, thanks to P&G’s experiment where it asked some of the best online communicators to flood the zone with Tweets, videos, photos, smoke signals and whatever else they could muster to sell as many Tide shirts as possible in two hours (all proceeds went to charity.) Think of it as a Jerry Lewis Telethon that was on every channel, albeit without the human-interest stories and bad formal wear.

The Web made “Chocolate Rain” an instant classic, the "Star Wars Kid" everyone’s embarrassing little brother. The Web gave us Dr. Horrible and Obama Girl. Thankfully, the Web gave us Obama, too.

Sure, the Web also gave us online predators, cyber bullies and outlets for speech some of us wish wasn’t free. It has compromised our identities and lost us lots and lots of money.

But the Web won’t give you cancer. I’m pretty sure of that.

In fact, Rick Murray, my boss and all-around digital guy, is riding his bike to conquer cancer and using the Web to raise awareness as well as funds. People on Facebook donated their status to organizations like Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Several years ago, a newspaper reporter used the natural cadence of new media reporting to give hope to thousands of other cancer victims like her.
Love the Web, bash the Web. Embrace social media or dismiss it. Sing, sell t-shirts or run for President of the United States.
Do whatever you want – but whatever you do, understand one thing.
The Web won’t give you cancer.
But the Web can damn well stop it.

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