The Need of Internet

I don’t need the Internet anymore.

Now there are a couple things in this sentence you could confront me on, first, need – who needs the Internet? But also anymore – so I did need it then? And what changed?

I’m reading a book for my Media and Society class right now called The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships and it’s sort of freaking me out a tad but I think I’m also learning lots. It talks about Internet addiction and how it affects our brains and how we function and how it changes our relationships (for better and for worse, it’s not a doomsday book, they acknowledge that there are benefits!) but it’s making me consider how much I use the Internet and social media and why.

I began using the Internet more and more starting from around age seventeen. A friend introduced me to the vlogger (video-blogger) side of Youtube and within a few months I was vlogging myself. At this time I was in grade twelve and slowly giving into minor depression as I grew increasingly afraid of my unknown future and saw my friends all drifting into the great unknown. I felt that I was losing my friends, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, didn’t like my part time job at a grocery store post-grad (I would “entertain” myself by seeing how far into a shift I could get without talking to someone. I clearly wasn’t a cashier!) and wasn’t pushing into God and building my faith thus allowing that to drift away too. I was lonely.

And the Internet, oh the Internet! The Internet helped me find friends, find friends fast and who had common interests and fun hobbies. I had Facebook, and now Youtube, next was Twitter and Tumblr, more and more ways to connect with my new friends. Now I’m not bashing this because it actually served a purpose in where I was at because as I somewhat dissolved into “living in” the Internet, it also helped bring me back out. I went to a convention in California, meeting friends I’d only previously known online. I’ve since gone on a second trip to DisneyWorld with them. I began organizing meet ups in Winnipeg a couple times a year for other people who were fans of some of the same Youtubers as I was.

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2012

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2012

"Nerdfighter" meet-up 2013

“Winnipeg Nerdfighter” meet-up 2013

The Internet sucked me in, yes. I became too reliant on it, yes. But it also helped me grow, a lot. I planned my portion of two trips out of the country and then travelled there alone. I organized meet-ups with people I’d never met before and spent time getting to know them. As I found solace online I began to gain more confidence in my real life outside of the Internet. I made friends with coworkers, I reconnected with high school friends, I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. As I gained a few subscribers on Youtube I began to value my voice and think about what I was saying more and through vlogging I actually developed an interest and some practical skill in video making, an aspect of what I hope my future career will involve.

Lately the Internet hasn’t been very fulfilling though. It’s no longer serving the purpose it once did and I think perhaps I’ve outgrown it. It’s not that I don’t value the friendships I made while regularly vlogging or even regularly watching Youtube videos – I do, very much, I would consider many of them to now be friends, but I no longer solely need the Internet to feel that I am connecting with people and being heard. I begin to find it tiresome, Internet connections cannot interact the same way as people in real life. I have friends and hobbies and goals and a life that extends past the limitations of my laptop and my wifi. I can appreciate the ability to stay connected using social media and the like, but I prefer to see friends in person and actually go out and to things and build relationships in that sense. And that’s a big change for me. There was a time when I would Facebook message you instead of trying to get together in person. Now, well… now I’ll do both 😉

I suppose over the last five years I’ve been able to mature and get to know myself better. I’ve experienced life online, and it’s fun for a time and serves its purpose, but I’ve discovered it’s crucially important to maintain a solid foundation in the real world. To be able connect with people in person is something that cannot be replaced and it is only through the challenges and bumps that we face along the road that we can grow, and those are rarely found within the safe walls we build up for ourselves online. Online is a place to hide from challenges and bumps, however, in the sage words of The Sound of Music‘s Reverend Mother, “These walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.”

-B

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And I’ll Still be Fine

I read a quote today that said, “Confidence is not ‘they will like me’ Confidence is ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t.” and it struck me.

I think of myself as a fairly confident person and would adamantly deny doing something to make someone else like me, but I still crave affirmation. I’ve discovered there’s a underlying self doubt that creeps in if I find myself overlooked or put aside. Earlier this year I made a video in which I posed the question, “Does the speed of a reply show how much someone cares?“. The answer was, of course, no.

I don’t do things hoping people will like me more, changing who I am for them. What I do struggle with is knowing that I’ll be fine if they don’t. If I don’t change and then they don’t like me, I can often see it as me being somehow wrong in who I am. I’ve gotten to the point where that doesn’t make me change, but it still hurts.

Some people I meet in life will like me, we’ll be friends, we’ll be more. Some people I meet in life may not like me, and I’ll still be fine if they don’t.

#AffirmMe

Sometimes my best friend and I discuss how our lives are certainly funny enough (if not necessarily interesting enough) to merit our own television show. We like to think we’re pretty funny and things happen to us that we feel ought to be recorded for a greater audience to enjoy than merely ourselves.

I think it would be safe to say that social media has given us as humans a confidence boost. The regular likes, follows, and friend requests give us a sense of security in ourselves and we want to go to the next level. In this day and age that next level has become celebrity status. It is now possible to be a Youtube or Instagram “celebrity”, having thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of followers hanging on your every move. This has become many peoples’ goal in social media, to gain recognition. This desire for recognition makes me wonder, are we really receiving a confidence boost from the rising numbers? Or does each one add to the pressure to do better, to move up to the next step? Has social media gone from a place to share bits of our daily lives with our friends, to a place where we #shout into the void, yearning for the affirmation of strangers?

There’s nothing wrong with social media, it’s an extremely convenient way to share bits of our lives, but I think there can be a serious danger to rely too fully on the numbers rather than the people with us in the day to day. My best friend and I don’t need a T.V. show, we just need each other around to laugh at our own lame jokes.

I Am Me.

My sister is graduating high school this week. It’s making me feel kind of old. I’ve been out of high school two years and I’ve got pretty much nothing to show for it but experience.

But you know, I think it’s worth it. I travelled without my parents and kind of settled into myself a bit. I went to a public university after having been in a private school for twelve years. I mean, sure I’ve now dropped out of that program but I now know what to expect from being in a larger building, more people, a wider variety of people, different classes, many more opinions and views. I feel like I was thrown abruptly into the world upon graduation and through the last two years I’ve finally found my feet a bit.

I started my first proper jobs. I got asked out by a coworker. Twice. I said no to going out with a coworker. Twice. (I’ve discovered that stereotypically coworkers who ask me out are kind of weird-creepyish people). I’ve learned how to get into good work habits and strengthen my work ethic (which I like to think has always been quite good). I’ve always stayed on good terms with my bosses. I’ve asked for a promotion. I got promoted.

I’ve made friends with people outside of my immediate circle of acquaintances. I’ve kept vlogging. I’ve found interests that suit me much better than what I’d always thought I enjoyed. New television shows, movies, books, hair colours. (Well, not hair colours. I always knew I wanted red hair. As an elementary student I would doodle myself with red hair, so I’ve kind of fulfilled a life-long dream by dying it I suppose). I’m preparing to travel to LA in a month to attend a conference and hang out with people I’ve never technically “met” but feel like I know. (Don’t worry, much less creepy and potential stalker-serial killer than it sounds!)

I no longer having a problem with being a nerd or a geek. I love being a nerd/geek/quirky-person/weirdo. People attach those names to me and I don’t see it as an insult, it’s not, it’s freeing, I don’t have to worry about whatever it is that makes you feel like you have to be constrained to “like” things in the “socially acceptable” way. I can full on nerd-out about things, I can be unapologetically enthusiastic about what I enjoy. To use a quote from one of my favourite authors, John Green:


I was talking to my mum because we were prepping for a family-celebration-BBQ thing for my sisters grad and I was saying I never got a party like this for my grad, and I never got a manicure like my sister’s getting and my mum said, well you had the options to but you said no. You weren’t into that stuff then. And I realized, yeah only two years ago I was the girl who wore box shits, Converse, no make-up and felt the need to prove myself to the world, often by holding it at an arms length. By wearing my fandom t-shirts I wasn’t wearing something I liked, I was trying to make a louder statement, to get noticed while saying I didn’t care. I was saying, Hey, here I am. This is me, this t-shirt, this represents me!

I don’t have to do that anymore. In this year, like I said, I’ve found my feet a bit and I’ve grown in self-confidence. I no longer feel the need to prove myself to the world. I’m me and me will end up being whoever I want me to be. I can wear a box shirt, no make-up, and Converse one day, and the next day curl my hair, put on a dress, do my makeup all pretty and go about in heels and both of those are equally “me”. I can wear my fandom shirts because I like them, who cares if someone notices, who cares if someone thinks I’m weird. I think it’s a cool looking top and most importantly:


Not any random person who walked by understood that reference, I, I understood that reference and I liked the shirt. I’m no longer trying to impress to feel accepted. I am accepted by those who are important to me, and if someone doesn’t like me, well then in the end, that’s their problem.

I’ve come to the point where I feel like I can make my own decisions in my life, with guidance and advice from “the trusted council of advisors” of course! But in the end I feel like I will make my own decision and not let anyone make it for me.

I am me and me is whoever God wants me to be and I make me be and I will be no one if I don’t make myself.

Talk to you tomorrow!
-B