15 May 2014

Lifestyle | The Internet: Our Biggest (First World) Problem?

The Internet has had it rough over the past months and recent weeks haven't been much different. This week saw Google come under fire as an astonishing ruling from The European Courts of Justice allowing individuals to request removal of "irrelevant or outdated" results from the search engine.

The previous week saw Gary Turk upload "Look Up" - trying to get your head around a guy shaming the Internet, on the Internet, only for it then to go viral on the Internet, was utterly mind-blowing. What's even more confounding is that there was nothing particularly special about the 6-minute rhyme Gary Turk stringed together, yet it has had almost 40m views on Youtube over the past couple of weeks. The video sent social media into a frenzy, giving reason for people spend more time online, the exact thing the poem is condemning us from doing - oh, the irony.

If you're one of the 34 million out of 2.33 billion people who have access to the internet that aren't obsessively plugged in, the general gist of the video is this:

We are all consumed by the Internet, mobile technology and our narcissistic attitude towards social media. Our obsession is causing us to appreciate culture, our surroundings and each other less. More importantly, what we should take away from the video is that if we are ever unsure of where we are going, we should forget Google Maps and ask a randomer on the street for directions. We'll fall in love and live happily ever after - give up your mobile neurotic Tinderers, it is apparently that simple.

After all that effort spent rhyming, it is only fair to forgive Turk for forgetting our individual freedom of choice. There are a lot of issues that have surfaced with Internet and smart phones due to their, and subsequently our, almighty omniscient ways. Sharing every morsel of our lives has become the norm; yes, we may have all created an online persona that our ‘friends’, who are mostly now mere acquaintances and know next to nothing about the actual goings-on, can choose to believe. My Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all lead to believe that I live an ultra glam life, swanning around London head to toe in freebies, in and out of fashion parties with free booze, filled wall to wall with C-list celebrities. What these social media friends don’t see is me sitting in my pyjamas on the regs at midday, tearing out my hair when I struggle to string a sentence together, or getting blanked at a party by someone I’d had an in-depth conversation with only a few days earlier. It’s no secret that we all filter our social media, so surely everyone must have learnt to read between the lines by now? Nothing is ever as perfect as your Facebook feed leads to believe.

And yes, there is racism and sexism on the Internet. Hurling abuse is much easier when able to remain anonymous, hiding behind a display. Social media can bring on a sudden case of FOMO, making us feel lonely and left out, but let’s not forget that when you step away from the computer, all these things are just as present in the world offline too. The Internet gives us access to almost everything at the click of a button, wherever we might be. Our iPhones are the equivalent to an infinite encyclopedia, yet they weigh a mere 112g. Did you realise that around 65% of the world are without this option?

The Internet and technology are a blessing when balance and smart judgement are in sight. We don’t have to be plugged into social media at all hours, tweeting every detail. There is no need to spend our commutes staring down into our phones, scanning through our filtered Instagram feed but that’s our prerogative and how fortunate we are to have been given that decision. 
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