The Internet: Our Greatest Frenemy

[Photo by: Hubert Figuière Title: Internet café Creative Commons CC]

Raise your hand if you feel life growing up you were molded by the internet.

Now raise your hand if you think that without the internet you’d be an entirely different person.

Probably, right?? We lie to ourselves and act like it doesn’t have influence over us and that we can stop using it whenever we want. But the reality is that the web has been woven into our everyday lives like the decorative spider webs we hang in our houses for Halloween. To the point that we don’t know where it’s effect over us starts and stops.¬†

When I was a kid, I’d spend countless hours playing online girly fashion games, like & games of my favorite Disney Channel shows like Kim Possible, Lilo & Stitch the Series and Brandy & Mr Wiskers. (Yes, that was a thing & yes, it was totally awesome) I also would watch music videos on America Online (AOL)’s kid section called Kids Online (KOL) before youtube was even a thing. Watching P!nk & Kelly Clarkson music videos and the AOL sessions of artists singing their songs in a studio because the music video was probably not appropriate for children, Like Rihanna’s “SOS” and “Gasolina” by Daddy Yankee.¬†I never had a myspace but I remember looking over my brother’s shoulder as he used his like the child annoyance I was. I also remember Facebook becoming my mother’s obsession when the craze of the new social hit Puerto Rico like a hurricane. I also used to be a super fan of Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers, like every other little girl in 2009, and would watch fanfiction videos on Youtube back when there were not really any copyright rules and no one made any money. Does anyone remember those? No? Just me? K… They had copyrighted music and photos of celebraties as the characters with text that would be the lines and you’d read it like a story. My best friend, at the time, pushed me to make a Twitter when it first lauched and to boycott the idea after she made a profile all I would do was tweet bible verses like the goody goody two shoes I was.¬†

Over the years I’ve seen the web evolve into what it is now. From Facebook’s inception to “Close you account before the government hacks it.” How Youtube went from being “Broadcast Yourself” to “I’m gonna tell you this mascara is God’s gift to humanity for $60k.” I was the first person I knew to discover that you could watch tv on the internet!! Places like Teen Nick and ABC Family would let you stream their content for free on their website. REVOLUTIONARY! Then they changed it so you have to long in with your TV Provider to make sure that companies like Dish Network and Direct TV were still getting your money.¬†

So it’s safe to say that I have truly grown side by side with the internet. It’s the primary source for information in our lives. Need a recipe for vegan brownies for your lactose intolerant cousin? Pinterest. How to learn another language for free? Duolingo. How do I apply lipstick without turning into the Joker? YouTube. It’s become everything and ignoring that fact is pure denial.

I pretty much use the internet for about anything you can think of. And I’m not going to sit here and act like I don’t. I get my US & world news from Twitter and Buzzfeed and sometimes local news on Twitter. Watching Youtube videos is a part of my daily routine with the strange mix of Beauty, Lifestyle and Pro Wrestling content making up most of my subscription feed. I check (multiple times a day) websities like¬†¬†&¬†¬†for all my pro wrestling news needs. Scrolling on twitter, instagram, and Pinterest is how to pass time when commuting or just procrastinating. I spend way too much time online window-shopping, which is probably the reason why my bank account is skinnier then I’ll ever be. I also use various streaming services like: Hulu, Netflix, the WWE Network, NJPW World, Honor Club, etc. What can I say? I like TV. Did you know that you can even watch live TV on your phone when it’s too hot to go downstairs and you don’t want to leave the air conditioning? Yeah! That’s a thing!
live tv.jpg  Formerly known as ABC Family

But honestly, after so many years of using the internet, I, like many others, have felt the heat of the social media negativity weigh heavy on me. I’ve gone thru phases of deleting social media apps from my phone to avoid mindlessly scrolling on them, to permanently deleting accounts due to the lack of privacy social media can impose. I’ve seen and heard stories of people getting lost in the web because they were never taught how to navigate it safely. It’s no secret that there is a lot of scaming, hoaxes and deceit laced between the codes of websites looking to be seemingly harmless.¬†

But it’s not all bad. The internet has greatly changed the way we learn things. We went from going to a library and searching in big book and encyclopedias to have the answers of the universe right at out fingertips. Information that would take months to go through in an analog way, we can soak up in just one afternoon of digital research. Everything from World War II, Evolution vs Creationism or “What’s more American: Burgers or Apple Pie?” (According to the Greatest Theologian in Recent History, corn beats everything.) One just had to be mindful to check the source to make sure that it wasn’t written by an online troll who can’t tell the difference between a pancake and a waffle.¬†

Currently, I’m taking an online sociology class which is nice because I get to learn but the schedule is more relaxed. Plus, I don’t need to spend extra money on books and things because all the materials I need to read and watch are posted to the page by the professor. This is actually how a lot of people study these days. Not everyone has the funds to move somewhere to go to collage so online classes can let them stay where they are while getting their eduction. It’s also nice if you work full-time because you can do the work in your pajamas after downing a bucket of coffee in the morning before going and making your coin.¬†

So I guess the moral of all this is, the internet is our frenemy depending on how you use it. I think it can be a great tool for students to learn new things, find information and get their education. On the flip side, I find that it can be a bid distraction. I think it’s shortened our attention spans, as a society, and can be used to harm others when used without intelligence, decrement and humanity. Personally, I love the web, but I have some days where I hate it. I’ve lived the simple life without the internet and I can find it to be a little too bland for my taste. Who I am is molded by the web. I find that in the web pages I’ve found things I’m passionate about and my dreams. I know, I know. I sound like a child. But¬†humor me for a second here.¬†For example, I didn’t discover Pro Wrestling thanks to the internet, but my love for it deepened once I used it to watch matches and wrestlers from all around the world. I didn’t know what eyeshadow was thanks to youtube, but I learned how to applying watching tutorials. And we can’t forget that the internet is how we listen to music these days! Gone are the days of record stores and towers of CDs and man do I miss them. But Spotify is cool too.¬†

We can also find a great deal of nostalgia on the web if you haven’t already been able to tell. Yeah, Lindsay Lohan used to sing and she was actually pretty good.

So my point is…

Use the web, love the web, be safe on the web but don’t let it consume you. Feel free to take as many social media breaks as you need. Let’s all find balance on the internet and use it for positive things. And relax, this isn’t all that deep. Be yourself on these platforms, learn and be entertained. If someone posts things you don’t like then block or mute them. Learn to be safe and be wise on the internet so it doesn’t lead to your demise.

And on that oddly deep note, I’ll catch y’all on the next post to see what’s inside my mind.

Stay Weird!
PJ Cage

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