The internet is probably safer than your next trip to the corner shop.
Unlike your friendly neighbourhood thieves, the Internet is highly unlikely to mug you, steal your new trainers or keep your credit card details to buy a car in Hong Kong. Despite this simple fact, there has long lingered over the Internet the suspicion that going online means you are doing it to download pornography and will end up having your credit card ripped off - leading to a life dedicated to begging and caring for an anorexic dog on a string.
But the events of the past week should put all of those thoughts into reverse. The US fever which has ensured that Internet stock market prices have been sky-high for most of last year has finally crossed the pond.
Shares in scores of UK companies have soared as this country has finally realised that the Internet is not just a passing fad but one which makes clear commercial sense. No longer should Internet stocks be looked at with the same suspicion that shares in South African companies were eyed during the years of Apartheid.
The crazy dance which online shares did last week, first jumping from 12p at the beginning of the year to 274p on Wednesday, dipping to 129p on Friday and then to 97p, was due, probably, to the same ignorance and terror which investors still feel about the Web.
The fact that Amazon.com still does not expect to make a profit until the year 2003 should not blind anyone tempted to do a bit of online trading to the fact that many companies using Ecommerce are substantially boosting their profits by doing so. One small company was recently quoted as saying that its profits have been boosted by 25% just by setting up a Web site.
Probably the most insecure and dangerous part on the Internet experience is trading in the stocks themselves. Before the launch of Theglobe.com, Merrill Lynch attempted to reach its customers to tell them to withdraw orders because of the volatility of the market.
But that's a different risk completely - it's called gambling.
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