My relationship with the Internet is a bit strange, I would say, a bit love-hate.
Lately, I’ve been quite annoyed by it, despite all the great things it can offer. On the bright side, of course, is the fact that I can communicate with my family and friends, no matter where they are, without having to pay crazy phone rates. It’s also quick, as opposed to writing a letter, and we can share photos, videos, or whatever.
In terms of reading the news, I must admit the Internet works much better than the plain old newspapers. To me, it seems like a waste to use paper for the news, something that is important today, but forgotten tomorrow. The Internet is updated every second, and we can always find the latest news and cross-reference sources in the blink of an eye.
Information at your fingertips, millions of facts that we would never get to know otherwise, unless we spent our entire days in libraries, travelling the world and studying every single thing we came across. The fact that you can have a conversation with someone, and add information to it by performing a search online, well, it almost seems magical.
The good thing about the internet is that everyone has a voice. There’s a corner for everything and everyone out there, no matter what you’re into, you’re not alone. Someone out there likes the same things you do, watches the same series, listens to the same music and eats the same thing. It’s great to meet people and feel connected.
However, all those are double edged swords, I’m afraid. I think I am maybe too old school or traditional for some aspects of the internet. Lately, I’ve had a few different conversations with friends, in which I found myself wondering what has gone wrong with all of us. I’m going to mention some of them below, and please know this isn’t to point the finger at my friends, that’s not what I’m trying to do here (so if you’re reading this, it’s not about you in particular!) but as a way of explaining my reactions to it, and to maybe even make you question how you interact with the Internet yourself.
First of all, if you remember, a while ago the Ice Bucket Challenge was the rage out there. It was the thing to do and not a moment would pass without someone updating their own video. Our feeds were saturated with people pouring cold water over their heads. It’s pretty much gone now. Maybe because of the news of the salaries the guys in charge were getting, or maybe because the challenge itself lived its own lifespan already, I don’t know. I don’t really care. I’m pretty sure people are hungrily looking for the next thing.
I’ve seen there are some Australian guys who are doing something like the Harlem Shake (remember that one?) with socks on their penises. That’s just weird, but I guess they’re looking for fame. I wonder if people will watch the video and decide that is the next thing. I have to say I haven’t watched the video, I’m not really interested in that side of the internet.
Which brings me to something else, two things, that have happened recently and make me question what’s wrong with us people.
On one hand, the beheading of a man, and on the other, naked photos. I admit when I saw the news for those, I was never tempted to click and watch. I can already imagine watching someone die like that is going to be grotesque and shocking. Only hearing about it I was already angry that something like that could have happened. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a bit of gore when watching films or television, but this was an actual person who was killed. People were morbidly clicking to watch the video, and I honestly don’t understand why. You heard it, someone killed someone else, why do you need to watch it?
In terms of the photographs, well, it’s a bit similar. OK, the actual situation is different, but it’s still this morbid curiosity to feed our… I don’t know, to be honest. I guess to feed our self-righteousness and our need for sordid details. Once again, I heard about the news of the leaked pictures, and once again, I didn’t need to see them. I guess guys would say something like I didn’t want to see them because they were mainly women. To be honest, if they had been naked pictures of all the hot male celebrities I fancy, I wouldn’t have clicked on them either. To me it’s just wrong. I heard it, what do you gain by looking at them? Yes, I do know what you might get from them, but I still don’t understand the need of stealing someone’s privacy for a quick relief.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about Internet celebrities. We are always talking (joking?) about how to make easy money online, and he always tells me he wants a cut from whatever I earn, for his support. He sent me a link about some dude who earns a ridiculous amount of money by doing Vines, and that now brands are queueing to get mentioned on his videos. What does he do? You might be wondering… Does he teach something? Is he a renown scientist? Is he even a magician? Nope. He plays pranks. He’s just some guy being funny at other people’s expenses. I think he was playing pranks on his friends, I don’t know. He started by filming his girlfriend’s toddler giving silly medical advice. And now he earns something like £2,000 per second. I don’t understand.
Another friend told me there’s this website where you can basically stream your video game session and people watch it. Yes, people are sitting in front of their computers, watching you play a video game live. They can comment in some chat and they can hear your commentary. He was going to start broadcasting too. It seems some people have a lot of followers. I wonder what they gain by watching someone else play a video game, what’s the point? I mean, surely video games are much better when you get to play them? I don’t understand.
The other day, I was very annoyed in general. I opened my usual apps, the ones where I get news or strange stories or even jokes, and the whole Internet was plastered with the iPhone announcement. It completely got on my nerves. I mean, it’s a phone! People are queueing to get the new version, and paying a lot of money for a gadget they get to use one year (maybe two), before having to sell it again in order to be able to afford the new one next September. One of my friends bought his recently, and he wants to buy the new one. Anyway, so along with the iPhone release, you get a lot of Android fans mocking the brand, which also gets on my nerves a bit, but well. A friend sent me a link to a Youtube video where some guys where mocking the new iPhone saying that Android users have had the same features for a while. The video was mocking stuff like the fact that you could drop it in the toilet now, that you had… I don’t know, I can’t remember. I watched it, and sure, some things were funny. After a few minutes, he sent me another video. Now, I don’t know if they were the same guys or not, but it was a similar video, about how iPhone was crap and how Android was much better. I clicked on it, and after a few seconds I realised I didn’t want to watch it, and so I told my friend.
I mean, who cares? iPhone or Android or Windows… they’re just phones. You choose whichever one suits your needs better and off you go. Sure, iPhone has its pros and cons, and mocking a brand is always funny, but I was so tired of just hearing about it over and over again. Whether it’s actual ads, or mocking videos, all my news feeds were clogged with iPhone everywhere. I don’t understand.
The other thing that bothers me as well is Beyonce (sorry if I am hurting feelings now). I never liked the way she danced and only liked some of her songs. She is now spoken of as a deity. Anything she does or says, any appearance, it’s pretty much idolised with almost a scary extremism. The Internet is full of these meme-like photos in which she is always the queen, the diva, the bitch, please judge, looking upon the rest of us as if we were but mere mortals. She’s mortal too, as far as I know, and I’m pretty sure she also makes mistakes and all that. Whenever she does something, the whole Internet stops to revere her. I don’t understand.
Please, don’t think I am some sort of prude, judgemental person, I also have my flaws and many of them! I just don’t understand why we have this hunger to consume all this type of content. What happened to the good curated content? The one you could actually learn from? At the moment, anyone who steps in with some interesting or engaging content gets shut down by trolls or ridiculed. To me it’s sad that someone who does 6 seconds pranks on Vine gets more followers, and more money that someone who has a blog on how to make your own stuff, or how to farm, or how to anything, or a vines about tips for living, I don’t know.
Maybe I’m too old fashioned, or maybe I’m just boring. Maybe I am living at the wrong time, but it all seems confusing.
I used to read Thought Catalog. It seemed interesting at first, and then I realised all articles were the same: What I would tell my 15/25/30 years old self, the 10/15/30/52 things that do something or you cannnot live without, how I got over you, how I didn’t get over you, things white girls should stop doing, things black girls should stop doing, things asian girls are tired of hearing, things everyone who has done this or that knows to be true… Day, after day, after day… It’s exhausting. The moment someone actually stands up for anything, they get eaten alive in the comments. It makes me sad that usually the people who make noise get more attention than those who make music (metaphorically speaking).
I know this blog is never going to pay my bills, I know I will probably never reach 4-digits on visits or followers figures, and I’m actually OK with it. The things that I write about are not important, or life changing, I don’t impart any knowledge worth sharing with every single person in the world, so I guess I don’t need to be a celebrity. I’m fine knowing that. I don’t need to attempt to be famous by doing something stupid or obnoxious, that’s not the corner of the Internet I want to be part of.
Normally, I don’t click on click-bait articles, or those videos in which I won’t believe what happens at the end. I don’t read lists, and when I do quizzes (which I do a lot, when I’m bored) I don’t tend to share the results. Again, I’m not perfect, and I do my share of stupid news, but I try to keep the links I share interesting, at least for a couple of my friends (and try to tag them, actually, so everyone can move along if they’re not interested in what I have to say). I do, however, follow some interesting blogs and read some good articles out there. I read about photography, science, technology, typography, sewing, cooking, farming, I follow blogs with beautiful photos of dogs or surfing and the sea, I watch videos in Youtube about how to make things, learning stuff, or people debating news and ideas… Every time I go online, I always learn something new, something worth learning.
This isn’t a cry to ask you all to stop doing it, and I don’t want to sound snob or anything like that, it’s just me wondering why because I really don’t understand. And with each click and each view, all these sites, these people are gaining more and more fame… Funnily enough, the guy who made the nude photos available for everyone to see (by sharing them, not by stealing them) has complained about his lost privacy now that the has become famous. The thing with the Internet is that it has a mind of its own, and a very crude sense of humour. Many times, Internet and karma are best buddies, and the thing is that anything you say or do stays there to haunt you at a later time if needed.
I guess those who have become famous in an instant by doing something silly, are doing it just for the kicks and the story, but like one hit bands, nobody is going to remember them in the future and they’re becoming famous for doing nothing. They’re the Kardashians and Big Brother winners of the Internet… which I still don’t understand.
Finally, some food for thought… Today we learnt about Oscar Pistorius and his verdict. We still don’t know how long he’s going to get, if any at all, as he might just get fined (that’s South African justice for you, I hear my friends from over there say) and I’ve already seen a few jokes on Facebook about it… It’s not funny. Someone has actually died. Some of these people who mock this situation by posting a picture of an A4 with some joke about being in the bathroom so please don’t shoot, well, some of those people are the ones who get offended when you make a joke about something else that affects them. It’s just wrong. Just because it didn’t happen to you, it doesn’t become right to laugh about it. It’s not even a case of “too soon.” Sometimes we all get caught up in the moment and make some bad choices, or bad jokes, but I wonder if those people actually think about it afterwards, like when we see in “the news” that so and so had to delete an offensive tweet.
The more I use the Internet, and the more I have a look at my news feeds, the more sorry I feel for myself and for humanity in general. I’m quite glad most of my friends seem to be quite sensible overall, and my Facebook feed doesn’t get too clotted with the Jackass side of the internet, or the most disturbing aspects of it, but it still worries me. Where are we heading? What’s actually the future for all of us, for our privacy, if we keep on this path? If now we can simply watch a man being killed in a video, what is going to be next? Where do we stop? Can we even stop at all?