Using the Internet for Good (and Evil)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much damage the internet is doing in my life. Keep in mind, this is coming from an admitted internet addict. But lately I’ve noticed some things that may not be so great about this technology.

When I teach library instruction, I always make a big deal about the electronic resources. “You guys! You don’t even have to leave your house! When I was in college we had to actually GO INTO the library, buy a copy card, and spend hours making copies of articles from JAMS. Now you can just click and you have a pdf right there!! YOU GUYS!” I’m sure that every time I do that, I age myself a lot. But it really is amazing. Research is right there for you. I hate to admit it, but you probably CAN do some really good research without ever setting foot in the library!

But there’s a dark side. Or, maybe I should say a couple of dark sides.

For one, I think the internet is depressing me.

I follow a lot of folks on Instagram, I read blogs, and of course I have like 1000+ Facebook friends. So I see a lot of posts. They all pretty much fall into one of these categories:

1. Fitness/food

2. Organizing/housekeeping

3. Friends enjoying themselves

One thing I always forget but MUST remember is that nobody posts their bad days (generally). No one posts a picture of themselves when they’re feeling fat, or having a bad hair day. No one posts a picture of their living room with clutter everywhere. No one talks about having a bad day.

But, everyone posts their best moments. The organizing blogs I read have these cute organizing projects and pictures of their wonderful ordered lives, and rather than inspiring me, it depresses me. It makes me feel like a failure. Meal planning tips? I’ve tried. And failed. Organizing the bathroom? Tried. Failed.

And then there are the fit people I follow. On a good day, they will inspire me to go to the gym, or say no to whatever treat is in the break room. But most of the time, I just feel inferior. There must be something wrong with me if I’m not committed enough to look like that.

And then my friends. I love my friends. But they post all these fun things they’re doing, and I’m over here exhausted, with 3 fighting children, desperately trying to clean and organize my home and failing miserably. This makes me sad too.

So you see, the internet can be a little bit dangerous for our self esteem. I actually limited my Facebook time this weekend. I posted a few pictures of my kids, and reposted some funny things, but mostly, I just watched Orphan Black during every spare moment.  And I felt a little bit better about my life.

Another aspect of the internet that has been frightening me lately is something I’ll have to fully address another time, but I just want to put it out there. It has been great for me to find support on the internet. Fitness friends, mommy friends, academic friends… it’s so easy to find a group of like minded people and feel like they’re your best friends even though you’ve never met them in person. But what happens when people whose attitudes are not so healthy find a forum of other people with the same issues? I’m talking about this…. I’ll warn you, it’s disturbing but I think it’s important to realize that the anonymity and scope of the Internet makes some pretty frightening things possible. Internet bullying is another frightening aspect. Our kids are growing up with different kinds of threats than we did because of the internet.

Do you find social media sometimes depresses you, or is that me only? What are some of the good things you can think of about the internet? Please, send me some happy thoughts…

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