NGL I love the internet, it is a procastination heaven AWA obv exposing loads of stuff that would O/W be KITD and there have been so many internet success stories through dating sites, business pledges and political/social petitions, but srsly, have we considered the Internet/social media as an addiction?
I often find myself longing to have been a part of youth from another era – instead I am part of a guinea-pig generation. The growth of computers and the Internet is a blur to me, my most distinctive memory being the introduction of an IT suite halfway through primary school. Now, at 17, I am a pedigree Ebabe. I own an iPhone, installed with many forms of communication. Do I need this? Of course not, nobody needs so many ways to contact others. I’ve steered clear of BBM, Instagram, Keek and Vine. But use Twitter and Fb lots. I also use the obvious phone functions of calling and texting contacts. Convenient, (arguably).
I have been on Facebook since I was twelve, and although six years does not seem like a very long time, it makes up a third of my life so far. My generation is the first to have their development from child to adult widely recorded and published online, and despite clear advantages to our astounding technological advances, I have to ask myself whether this tracking has been healthy for us. Is it really “convenient”? I have come to the conclusion that social media is damaging to relationships, achievement and health. I can see that the over-communicated teen is a new species despite being a self-confessed one. On many occasions I have sat in a room with friends and we’ve all been on our phones: checking Facebook, replying to texts, posting pictures, watching vines, googling celebrities − the list goes on. It’s boring and a waste of time, but it’s often unstoppable. Could it be that social media, eventually, actually hinders communication − real communication, or communication “IRL”.
TBH social media dilutes feeling. I have moved school twice, had friends in different areas of the city, country and world. I can’t, however, honestly say that I have missed a single one of them. This is not because I dislike them, or don’t have time for them, or even because I’m #cold-hearted. It is because I don’t have the space to miss them. It is impossible to miss someone who posts videos on Snapchat in the same day that you’ve seen their breakfast, lunch and dinner on instagram and your twitter feed is crowded with their 140-character thoughts.
It’s not only relationships that I see as at risk here though. It isn’t unknown that the boom of the Internet and social media has fed insecurities and both physical and mental health issues. Anorexia and bulimia are growing problems widely affecting teenagers. Research in from 2013 by Nadia Micali’s team concluded that eating disorders have risen by 15% since 2000. This is not to say the Internet is a sole contributor to these illnesses, but in many cases it can be seen somewhat as a catalyst. I had a Tumblr account when I was fourteen and fifteen, and it was in no way difficult to find what is known as “thinspiration” − images and posts dedicated to encouraging dieting. And that was just the fringe. “Pro-Ana” websites and blogs have been established for a more extreme but similar purpose. There’s a deep and dark irony to these sites, whilst they claim to “inspire”, in reality, they are a form of torture. They inflict pain through creating guilt about ones imperfections and promote direct comparisons between individuals and streams of “perfection”. This comparison is unhealthy and can often transfer into everyday, offline life. Individuals could inevitably see themselves as images lined up in a row, flaws being annotated and overtly discouraged. Whilst these blogs may seem like an utter extremity, they are reinforced and backed up by milder forms of communication. Facebook allows a study of other people’s pictures, faces, and bodies. Instagram often shows a record of what people are eating on a day-to-day basis. Young people can see what their favourite celebrities are eating, what exercise they are doing, they can Google what they look like in underwear, and be highly disappointed when they don’t look the same. There are even websites that have records of the heights, weights and measurements of different celebrities. Why? So that anyone can compare himself or herself to anyone else? This may be an issue for everybody online, but what I feel more strongly about is the way that these problems are affecting those who are supposed to be growing up, those who are being moulded by what they see; the #young #naive #oftenvulnerable.
T/A years are monumental in the development of individuals: the influences and exposures I have had since starting secondary school have shaped me more consciously than anything previously, mostly because the start of my teenage years marked the start of my independence. The Internet is another platform for one to develop, but should we be developing with the help of the Internet? We don’t yet know all the effects the Internet has had and will have on the development of my generations to come; those who have lived with the Internet all of their lives are not into adulthood or close to grown up. The Internet is a growth of a new culture and will inevitably have dramatic implications. It is undeniable that some changes the Internet has bought about have been very positive: online petitions, exposure of worldwide issues, and communication with distant loved-ones. But have we really delved into the scars the Internet might leave future generations with? Scars of low self-esteem and skewed views of “real-life”, scars of cyber bullying, and online harassment − something that is close to impossible to get physically away from.
I would like to say that I could delete my Facebook right now and it’d be fine, but it’s simply not true. So much of my E/D life revolves around the Internet − from group homework to parties. I’d just be out of the loop (OTL in case you were wondering). I detest my dependency on something that in many ways hasn’t really been tested. This dependency isn’t even through any individual fault, it’s an evolution that cannot be ignored; it surrounds me: used in my schooling, relationships and leisure time. It is for this reason that every time someone from an older generation says to me something along the lines of, “you just can’t imagine what it was like for us growing up, we had to bring change for telephone boxes and actually stick to arrangements!” I don’t feel lucky, I feel irritated at my dependency. Yes, my generation can’t live without technology, but then again, we’ve hardly been taught to have we? And maybe, being these guinea pigs/digi-babes acc sucks, IDEK.
#angstyteen – Rosa @Rherxh