The list of grievances against the internet is a long and sometimes sordid one.

Cyberspace — if you’ll indulge the rather dated term — has plenty of nooks devoted to misinformation, and crannies crowded by the purveyors of ad hominen attacks and conspiracy theories to make moon landing deniers blush.

But in the era of coronavirus the online world has also shown off many of its positive attributes.

The internet makes it easier for parents to put together lessons for kids whose one-week spring vacation suddenly, and unexpectedly, stretched to at least seven.

It’s also an endless source for ideas about entertaining restless children, from cooking to crafts to outdoor pursuits. Some of these might even work, at least briefly.

For higher education, the internet allows institutions such as Blue Mountain Community College to continue to operate, but in a way consistent with reducing the spread of the virus.

Telecommuting has been around for about as long as the internet, of course, but never has the ability to work from home been more vital than during the age of social distancing.

Restrictions are having a devastating effect on some businesses, of course — the dining and lodging sectors being a notable example.

But the harm, both in purely economic terms and in the provision of public services, would be even greater if many people didn’t have the option to work from home.

And although the internet teems with claims about coronavirus ranging from the silly to the potentially dangerous, it’s also a forum that enables generous people to find ways to help their friends and neighbors.

The internet, ultimately, is just another tool, albeit more complicated than, say, a hammer.

And like any tool, how we wield it determines whether we end up with a sore thumb or a useful and solid construction that enriches our lives.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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