What the Internet has Taught Me

I love the internet. My life just wouldn’t be the same without Netflix, Etsy, or YouTube. I know I can live without it but who wants to live a life without seeing viral videos of baby pandas sneezing? However, like many aspects in life, good things often come with bad and lightness with darkness. I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen comments like “You should kill yourself” or “You’re ugly” said so casually on the internet. The internet certainly comes with it’s dark corners in the forms of cyber bullying, judgment and so much more.  So what has the internet taught me?

You CAN Sit With Us

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We as humans hurt each other. A lot. I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt others. In the eighth grade I referred to a younger girl as “frizzy” because of her hair. Why? My own pain and insecurities. Yes, I was going through a hard time at home but that was NO excuse to treat an innocent girl so poorly and cause her pain. I look back on that with regret and am SO embarrassed by it. Now imagine if I had put that on the internet? Words hurt in person but once they are written down, they are there forever. They can also catch fire. Sure you can delete your comment but all it takes is one screenshot for that to spread.

When I was a senior in high school I went to the restroom during my fifth period class (which was also the lunch period for our school’s junior highers) and while I was in there I heard a light sniffling sound and came out of the stall to find this little blonde girl huddled on the floor crying. I washed my hands, went over to her and sat down next to her and put my arm around her shoulder. Eventually the snivels lessened and I asked her what was wrong. “The other girls” was all she said and started crying more. So I sat with her longer and then eventually asked if she wanted to go sit at a lunch table with me. I got her some tissue and I sat with her through her lunch as she ate. So the next day I went outside again just to make sure she had found someone to sit with. I didn’t see her at the tables so I checked the restroom. Sure enough, there she sat on the floor crying. So for many days I would skip my fifth period (with my teacher’s permission, of course) so she had someone to sit with at lunch. Eventually, I spoke with a junior high teacher about helping her find someone to sit with and we found a better solution and eventually she made a friend. How sad is that though? The feeling that you have no one to sit with and you are utterly alone. I’ve experienced that and so many others have as well. I’m sure you’ve seen the “You Can’t Sit With Us” Mean Girls quote everywhere on the internet and while it might be funny in the movie or in internet memes, it’s not in real life. That’s why I love Kind Campaign.

Selfie Generation

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We live in the age of selfies. So much so, that the term actually has an official definition. Apparently cute puppies even take selfies. In fact, Kim Kardashian is coming out with a book… of ONLY selfies. Research has been done linking selfies to narcissism and poor relationships. Now, don’t get me wrong. I take selfies and am not a selfie hater.  I try to keep my online sharing of photographs balanced but I wasn’t always that way. Before I deactivated my Facebook about two year agos I had an album called “Life Photos” where I uploaded all of my pictures. One day my sister-in-law commented that I should rename it to “Photos of Me”. I hadn’t even noticed that I basically only uploaded pictures of me… by myself.

I’ve altered some of my habits and (to be exact) I’ve had my instagram for two years and I have 14 selfies out of 367 photos.  I’m an introvert and I don’t have a huge group of friends but even still I can imagine that if you spend so much of your time taking selfies it’s easy to forget the people in the background who you could have in your photos WITH you. Take photos with the people you love because at the end of the day they are more important than a perfect selfie.  Also, the word “selfie” in and of itself is pretty irritating and I can’t believe I’ve already used it at least ten times so I think I’m going to move on to my next point before I go crazy.

Judgment vs Disagreement

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When I was in seventh and eighth grade I was a very immature and judgmental girl. Ironically, my own morals at the time were pretty pathetic (Clearly, I called a girl frizzy). I think we can all agree that junior high is the absolute worst. With time I grew up, matured, and did everything in my power to be open minded and non-judgmental. However, I still have my own set of morals and choose to hold myself to a certain standard that I set. Just because I personally choose not to do certain things does not mean that someone else can’t and shouldn’t. A lot of things in life aren’t always black and white. There is a gray area. I think the point of discernment in regards to disagreeing vs judgment is when it comes to effects. For example, while I do drink socially, I choose not to ever get drunk. Do I judge someone who does? Nope. When I take issue is when someone chooses to DRIVE drunk and now is potentially harming other people. There’s a difference.

So why do we all get so worked up on the internet? Next time you are on Facebook and you see someone doing something that you disagree with, think before you post a comment. Are they harming others? Will my words be helpful or hurtful? Did they ask for my opinion? If you truly feel that you need to say something to someone because you disagree with what they are doing, maybe send them a personal message. I don’t have all the answers. I’m just suggesting putting a little more thought into our words on the internet. It’s SO easy to get caught up in something and quickly hit “enter” before we’ve even had a chance to formulate a thought. I’m tired of seeing things like “I hope you die” on the internet because people are different. Kindness breads kindness.  I’m going to make a better effort to continually try to make someone’s day a little bit better by saying something nice.

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Although the internet is responsible for a lot of hurt, it has also become a place for people to share their stories and make friends with people who have gone through similar experiences. People have said some nasty things to me on the internet. People I don’t even know. Don’t let it get the best of you. Click spam and move on. As hard as it is for us sensitive souls, don’t let someone’s negativity steal your joy and take it as a reminder to always think twice before you comment. I know I will mess up sometimes but I’m going to try my very best. If you are going through a hard time, here’s a virtual *hug* from me and know that you are loved.

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