The Internet is amazing. We have an infinite amount of information available to us at a click of a button. It allows us to communicate with people, regardless of their location. It makes us feel like we belong.
As an international student, I use the Internet to connect with my friends and family that are thousands of miles away. I noticed that it allows me to be almost anywhere I want. When I FaceTime my parents, I feel like I am sitting in my living room with them, enjoying a cup of tea. Social networking sites have done the same. Facebook, twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have kept me updated on what my friends are doing and what the world is talking about. I can keep in touch with people at the click of a button. I can experience life through the eyes of another person.
At the same time, the Internet is terrifying. Being constantly connected through the Internet also forces us to disconnect. The Internet never sleeps but you need to! In my experience, when you don’t have much to do (or even when you do), it is very easy to adjust your sleep cycle so that you can talk to friends and family in different parts of the world. It’s in those moments that we have to remind ourselves to be present and disconnect from the Internet (and get some sleep!).
We continue to gain social acceptance online through the likes and comments on our social media pages. These are images of our life that we want people to see: the picture perfect moments. Social media is a great way to learn about people and their interests but we forget that it doesn’t show people’s entire life, rather an image of themselves that a person has created. When you like or comment people notice. Some people even notice when you don’t comment. It is important to realize that the number of likes on your picture doesn’t define your self-worth, rather it is an indication of the number of people that saw your post in their newsfeed (for the most part) because of the algorithm that Facebook and Instagram use.
After mindlessly scrolling through news feeds and dropping likes on things you might not even read, when you receive a hand written thank you card or even a letter in the mail, you appreciate it a lot more. It is so much more thoughtful because it is easier to shoot someone a text instead. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there must be a balance between your actual life and your Internet life. I encourage you to be aware of the ways in which you are using the Internet and how it’s making you more (or less) happy.