The Internet is a remarkable place. Yes, in under a minute I can successfully Google search a recipe, tweet about it, and Instagram the preparations. And that’s just one aspect of it. The Internet is where we share information about ourselves and our lives. It’s how we process, grieve, and handle life when it comes to us in hard and unexpected ways. But a lot of times, we see only the negative ways that the Internet comes to light. We see it in a surge of celebrity gossip and petty “beefs”; we see it with Internet trolls that try to belittle any kind of positive space for minority groups; in short, it’s almost impossible to maintain a constantly positive public space on the Internet.
But the question is then raised on whether the Internet is positive at all.
Honestly, I had a romantic view of the Internet since I was first introduced to it. Back in the days of AOL dial-up (there are few sounds that can override the annoyance that was the dial-up tone in the ’90s), the Internet was almost a privilege. I grew up on the Internet, like many others in my generation. We taught our parents how to set up e-mail addresses, while trying to hide our own embarrassingly juvenile AIM usernames, but as nostalgic as all of that sounds, I learned to navigate the Internet with a sort of confidence that I couldn’t muster in real life until much later. I saw it not as a trap that would lead me astray, but as a way to connect to the outside world beyond just existing in it.
And even today, I’m fascinated by the new and exciting ways that we learn to communicate with each other. What makes me even more excited is the way we continue to translate these new forms of technology into positive, large-scale movements. Everything from Kony 2012 to Twitter trends and more recently “I, Too, Am Harvard” was birthed from a few keystrokes and a reblog button. And just two decades ago, that kind of power was unheard of.
Of course, there are bad people on the internet, but there are bad people everywhere in the world. Liars, cheaters, and villains exist everywhere, not just over a screen. Online, they do have more power. But guess what?
So do those who want to do good.
I defend the Internet, and I welcome it’s existence into our lives. And I want to continue to use it to reach people that I may never meet, and give them the best parts of myself. I want to continue to write and share stories and exchange ideas over a screen. And I just hope that somewhere, somehow, there’s just one person that feels the same way.