More and more people seem to be living there entire lives either through, for, or on the internet. As a blogger, and freelancer I am guilty as charged. I need the internet for most things I do. Social media, emails, finding work, keeping in touch with friends, research, shopping, news. Almost everything I do involves the internet in some way. As a human however, I am starting to recognise how serious the implications of this can be – not just on myself – but on whole generations of people across the world. The internet is so, so, brilliant, but can be so, so damaging and in some cases dangerous.
The first problem – We place value in it.
i.e getting so obsessed with the appearance of your Instagram grid that you begin to doubt your own self-worth. I’m sure so many of us are guilty of this – but when you see it written down like this – doesn’t it just strike you as a little worrying? This is only the first step – in so many young girls it can lead to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and so much more. The number of followers, or friends you has no baring in real life. We should value people on who they are and what they do, not how many people they talk to on the internet.
This leads me on to my next point.
Was anxiety always this prevalent before the internet?
Or is having every part of our lives scrutinised, and scrutinising others causing us to have this anxiety? Or maybe we just know about it more now, as everyone’s writing about it on the internet, or discussing it in youtube videos where they weren’t before. I think talking about it is definitely a good thing – every (honest) video, or blog, or article that goes up about mental health is someone helping to chip away at the taboo of discussing mental health. However I can’t help but feel everyone might be a little less anxious if we spent less time at our computers, or glued to our smart phones, and more time outside, talking to actual real people, face to face, and seeing the world for REAL, not just from the perspective that it would make a good ‘gram.
IF IT ISN’T POSTED ON THE INTERNET THEN IT DEFINITELY DID STILL HAPPEN – In fact you’ll probably remember it more if you look at it with your eyes rather than through a camera lens or phone screen.
Trolls / Hate / Cyber Bullies
A screen is quite a convenient thing to hide behind isn’t it? It’s so easy to write horrible, hurtful things to or about people you don’t know or have never met when you have the protection of a username, untraceable account information, and a (probably purvy) profile picture of someone else.
But actions having no consequences is pretty much the start of an anarchical society. If you are racist on the street to someone’s face you get prosecuted, if you threaten to rape someone, the police would (hopefully but worryingly probably not) take a complaint seriously. It’s not illegal to call anyone ugly, or fat, but it’s rare that people walk around the street doing this because fights are likely to start, other people would hold them accountable.
Although there are some good samaritans trying to do this on the web as well, it’s not working. There is still too much dangerous, threatening trolling going on. The reason I think this is a problem, well, if you’ve been threatening to rape people on the internet for years, your brain probably isn’t far away from actually doing something similar in real life – and if there is evidence to suggest this is a possibility shouldn’t we take note of this? Shouldn’t something be done before someone really gets hurt? Cyber bullying has caused too many suicides amongst children, teens, and probably adults too, and not enough is being done to prevent this, because not every corner of the internet can be policed, and there are many much more serious crimes going on.
I don’t want to go too deep into the real criminals of the web in this post, we are all aware of the ‘real’ dangers of the web. But there is very little discussion of these other problems that can be just as damaging to people’s lives. I’m not sure even why I wrote this, I just was thinking about it, and thought some people might like to read it.
So next time you are looking at your friends facebook and wondering why you weren’t invited to that party, counting your twitter followers in comparison to that other girl with the blonder hair, or thinking of starting that diet that girl on instagram said made her lose 5 pounds in 2 days. Remember that the internet does not define you as a person.
Similarly, if you are the type to which I hope you aren’t, next time you want to leave a negative comment on someone’s selfie, or get carried away in a twitter debate and take it too far, remember that there is a person behind the profile picture, and their life, and their feelings matter. We all have to live on this earth together, and we need to help make it a little easier for everyone.