There’s enough stats out there comparing the links between the rising levels of depression and the Internet, bullying and social media, lack of body confidence and media stars and the dangers of young children and online strangers. We know that the web can be a dark and scary place.
But there’s a lot of good that comes from it. I am certain that the Internet is encouraging better communication with people you wouldn’t usually engage with if you hadn’t ‘met’ online, and helping our existing friendships.
I’ve noticed recently that I don’t seem to hesitate when I reply to friends or acquaintances online, because I just see it as having conversations like you would in person.
If one of my friends posts a picture of themselves, a date night shot, holiday snap or an achievement, I find I’ll comment with my first reaction. Whether that’s ‘pretty photo’ or ‘hope you had a lovely day’, I tend to always type the first thing that comes to my head. Same goes for finding out more. If someone I know through following them on social media says they’ve been to the cinema, I’ll message them to ask what they thought about the film because I’m genuinely interested.
I could list a few people I consider really good acquaintances and friends that I have met online. People I’ve known since my Tumblr years as a teen, where we bonded over our mutual love for the Jonas Brothers, or others I talk to about our shared passion for film on Twitter, some of who I have met up with a few times. I respect these people and I feel like we’re friends, even if I only see their updates on Instagram or Twitter. If I see them post nice photos or share important milestones from their life, I’ll message them to let them know I’m thinking about them and wish them well.
Old school friends, work colleagues, people you met at uni, travelling or at concerts. You could probably guess what they’re up to in their life just from what they post about social media. Obviously people only choose to share what they want on social media and I’m by no means saying that social media accurately presents a person’s life. But things like seeing an old friend from school is travelling in South America, a uni friend and their partner have purchased their first house, an old work colleague just won an award.
I’m a big believer in that by sending out good thoughts and positive vibes, goodness returns to you. Life is too short to not tell people nice things just because you don’t know each other ‘well enough’ or you haven’t spoken in years. Comments/replies/messages online can be conversations and I want to communicate with people I like and admire. This goes for people I class as ‘in person’ friends and online acquaintances I have never personally met (although acquaintance isn’t strong enough, I need a nicer word that is defines this relationship better).
I am not trying to discredit the fact that the Internet has bad areas and can be damaging if used in the wrong way. Social media has definitely contributed to my anxiety over the last few years. Even writing this blog post has made me feel anxious, worrying that people will think I’m pathetic for writing something like this.
My hope is that I’m approachable online as well as in person, because I love meeting new people, speaking of mutual passions and learning more. At the end of the day we post things online to be read or seen by others. So if someone posts something and I feel a reaction to it, I’ll reply/comment back because I want to learn more or let you know that I think you’re great. Because the world is shit enough, we’re all in this together and we should try and spread a little love.