Social media: the more you explore it, the more it grabs a hold of you and pulls you deeper into its fold. Its like a multi-tentacled deep sea monster in the ocean of the internet: the deeper you swim, the more tentacles seem to grab hold of you and pull you further into the depths. Sure, the surface of this hypothetical monster-laced ocean is safe enough, with relatively safe fare like Facebook and Pinterest to draw you in with shiny interfaces and pretty pictures, but the longer you stay, the muddier the waters become.
Before long even these deceptively ‘harmless’ sites start to develop a darker edge. At first it’s all about connecting with long lost high school friends and sharing wedding pictures and pregnancy announcements, but before you know it you’re up till 4am fuming over a passive aggressive flame war with an ‘old friend’ over the correct way to cook wasabi chicken.
And thats just Facebook.
Eventually you discover Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, StumbleUpon, 9GAG, Reddit and so on and on till you basically lose all hope in humanity and seriously start considering the benefits of shunning society altogether and becoming a travelling interpretive dance performer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me some social media and online communities and am more than a little addicted to Twitter and 9GAG, but like all things in the vast depths of the internet, people eventually find a way to sully the waters with spite, petty narcissism, bullying and hatred. Don’t agree with me? Just go look at the comments section of anything on YouTube or 9GAG and see if you don’t change your mind.
So yes, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, chances are you’ve come face-to-face with the darker denizens of the internet at one point or another. These are the idiots who manage to twist any and all conversations into sexist/racist/xenophobic rants and refuse to believe that people might actually hold opinions different from them and still not be wrong. Or others who just get a thrill out of trolling random strangers or ruining their day. It’s like a modern day Pandora’s Box: all the supposed evils of humanity seem to have infiltrated and are thriving within the confines of the inter webs, transforming seemingly normal people into spiteful nitpickers online.
That being said though, life online is not all bad and internet communities definitely have their moments. Nothing after all can be ALL bad, right?
Me, I love the internet. In fact, I probably have it to thank for helping me retain my sanity through various phases of my life, and despite encountering my fair share of trolls and misogynists online, I would not give up my virtual space for the world. Why should I?
So my advice to you, my virtual friends, is this: do not let any one network/social media pull you so far into its fold that it borders on addiction, do not EVER feed the trolls and never give up what you love or what makes you happy because some idiot likes being mean from behind the safety of internet anonymity. After all, where’s the adventure in life if you aren’t willing to slay some monsters along the way?