Hello again! The holidays are over, I’ve successfully recovered from eating way too much food over Christmas and my last term of school has started! (wow, time really flies, doesn’t it?)
In our first English lesson after the break, we started dealing with a new topic: social networks! The discussion we had in class was lot more heated and controversial than I expected it to be, and, as a homework, we’re now supposed to write a comment about the question whether we think social networks are social “Eden” or a dystopian tool.
Since I’m obviously a commendable student (hah!), I somehow managed to not procrastinate for once and wrote a little something. I feel a little foolish for uploading a homework to my blog, but, to be honest, I found the topic and the discussion we had about it rather interesting, so sharing it seemed like a good idea, especially since I’d love to hear other people’s opinions as well (so do leave a comment if you like). Plus, if you ever need any arguments in a discussion with elderly family members who still believe the internet is the spawn of hell, you might find some here!
Some people claim social networks will ruin humanity, others say they are the best thing ever invented. Are internet adversaries spreading baseless panic and making a huge fuss over nothing? Or are they actually right and users of social networks are indeed underestimating the dangers the internet entails?
Personally, I wouldn’t say they’re entirely wrong. The internet might be a great invention, but sometimes it can make us forget about what the real world has to offer. Of course, chatting to someone online is terrific, but can it really replace conversations held face to face? Probably not.
Many young people, including me, spend so much time on social networking websites catching up on other people’s lives that they seem to forget to live their own. Often, friends and school are neglected and escaping into a fictional world online becomes their number one priority.
An even more dangerous side of the internet is online bullying. Nobody is safe from it on social networks, especially because insulting or terrorising someone through a screen without having to face their reaction is a lot easier than doing it to their face. Online, one is anonymous and therefore more distant, which certainly reduces the inhibitions for people to emotionally abuse someone in order to exercise power over them and boost their own confidence in a very wrong way.
However, it is often forgotten that the internet also offers a great deal of support and empowerment, especially to minorities. On websites like Tumblr, people stand up for important causes such as feminism, anti-racism projects or marriage equality and offer advice to users who e.g. struggle with accepting their sexuality or gender identity, suffer from mental illnesses or have other problems they need help with.
This continuous support within communities is just one of the many positive things the internet makes possible as it provides a platform for people to speak up about matters that concern them and inform and educate others. For example, celebrities or simply users with a lot of followers can use their scope to raise awareness on important issues or ask their fans/followers to donate to charities, which can definitely make a noticeable difference.
Unrelated to that, websites like Facebook, Twitter and apps such as Instagram or WhatsApp make it a lot easier for people to stay in touch and also enable you to meet new friends whom you share similar interests with, no matter where in the world they live. That way, it’s possible to get to know people from lots of different countries and learn more about their culture and lifestyle, which undoubtedly is an incredible enrichment.
Due to the the internet being so fast, keeping up with the latest news has become a lot more convenient as well. Within a second, you’ll find the most recent updates on economy, political events, sports, films or music and are additionally able to instantly share your own opinion on the matter and discuss the subject with other users.
Sharing is a vital part of social media in general. Whether it’s through a simple Facebook post, a tweet, a video on youtube or an entire blog, people are constantly broadcasting themselves. Of course, it’s not advisable to overshare and making your life public always has downsides as well, but I still believe it offers us amazing ways to not only gain inspiration from others, but also self-actualise and express ourselves in a manner that is different to how we are able to present ourselves offline.
Taking all this into consideration, I have to say that I do agree with skeptics when they say we shouldn’t underestimate the enormous power the internet has and be careful with what we decide to post publicly. I’ve often caught myself wasting away entire days because I spent hours and hours on the internet, scrolling through my tumblr dashboard for the hundredth time and looking at posts I’d already seen instead of doing something productive. Even though it doesn’t feel like it and I’m sick of hearing it all the time, perhaps our parents are at least partly right when they say we’re missing out on things when we spend every day sitting inside our room with a screen in front of us.
Nevertheless, I would never want to imagine a life without the internet. Social networks are so diverse; you can seriously find anything on there – from political opinions, over animal welfare, Kim Kardashian’s bum, a video of a yawning pelican (definitely check that one out, it’s the funniest thing ever), book reviews, Spongebob Squarepants fan communities or make-up tutorials to Pepe the Frog.
On the internet, there are literally no limits, and, to be frank, if you still refuse to acknowledge its awesomeness, you’re truly missing out.
Before ending this, I’d quickly like to say a special thanks to everyone from the Dan and Phil group, you guys mean the world. I know I’m not the most active member, but talking to you is always so lovely and you are probably the funniest, weirdest (take that as a compliment) kindest and most supportive bunch of nerds I’ve ever come across. I hope we’ll continue to be trash, cry about fandoms together and create lots of new memes for a long time coming, I love you all lots. x
(@Pravs: This blog would like to invite you on a date. I’ve heard it will even bring you flowers, it seems to have a major crush on you!)
Anyways, let me know what you think about this whole discussion, I’d be delighted to hear some of your thoughts and have a little chat in the comments. Bye bye and cheerio! xx