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Is the internet a blessing or a curse for social connection? Both, as it turns out, which is why this article aims to explain the biggest benefits and most dangerous pitfalls of connecting online.
Once you get yourself a solid internet connection from a company like Frontier, you gain access to one of the most powerful connectivity tools ever conceived of. After all, with an internet connection, there is barely anyone on earth that you couldn’t connect with.
Planetwide communication in a matter of moments is completely achievable now. More than that, it is commonplace. Ordinary. That is a massive change from even very recent history, even without getting into the ever-increasing number of ways people can connect now.
Regardless, the internet is the best social tool ever created – and in many ways, it is horrible for social connection. Of course, it has many benefits, too, but it is important to consider both when talking about the ways in which the internet has changed the way you make connections.
Why it’s a Blessing
It really isn’t too hard to explain why the internet is such a blessing for social connection. In fact, one of the reasons is already covered. The internet makes connection EASY. Even if you are literally on the other side of the world from the person you want to talk to, you can get in touch in moments. There is practically no limitation.
What’s more, the internet is also a hub of information, entertainment, and more, which makes it a wonderful tool to help you plan get-togethers with friends and other important social activities. You can look up a great restaurant, get tickets for a movie, and find a lovely walking trail – all without ever looking away from your phone.
What’s more, things like social media make it easy to share more with far more people. You can post a picture of your lunch, write a review of the movie, and make an artsy video of your walk through the woods – and then you can share it all with everyone who follows you. Hundreds of people, thousands, even millions – the only limit to the number of people that can see it is the number of people that use the platform.
In many ways, this level of connection is beautiful. You can live your life so openly and stay in touch with everyone you want to. If you so choose, you could show the world every moment that you live.
Why it’s a Curse
However, the very things that make social connections online so beautiful are also the things that can make them really bad. There are no guarantees that this will happen – of course – but there are also plenty of times when it does.
Firstly, the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere, at a moment’s notice is absolutely amazing. It is a delightful thing to be able to do. However, it is always an option – and that can become exhausting fast.
People naturally have times when they are tired, sad, or just not interested in being accessible – but everyone knows that the internet makes everyone easily accessible. People talk about being left on read, being ghosted, and other similar things with regularity.
There is an expectation that just because you can communicate quickly, you will, and when you don’t, it is easy for people to take that personally. Suddenly, socializing becomes an obligation.
This becomes worse when you realize that social media is the same way. Followers often expect content from the people that they follow, and when they don’t get it, there is that same sense of expectation. You have the technical ability to provide constant insights into your life to others, so why aren’t you doing so?
Of course, you could go ahead and provide an update to your followers and explain why you won’t be posting – but the very fact that you need to explain yourself is itself nefarious. It implies that you owe others an explanation for not sharing every little thing that happens to you. That you have no right to privacy when you want it.
Speaking of privacy, that is another thing that is being corroded by the social web. Every facet of information about everyone pretty much always ends up online at one point or another, and that means that pretty much anyone could learn about it if they wanted to.
Data brokers and similar companies make sure of this. Suddenly, all you need is a name to learn everything there is to know about someone. You could learn where they went to school, what they do for work, and where they live – all without looking away from your phone. There are very few options for real privacy.
In many ways, the internet has the capacity to be a wonderful place and a fantastic tool to stay social. However, that capacity is so often turned to a darker purpose that many fear that humanity would simply be better off without it.
Why Things Don’t Have to Stay This Way
It is easy to despair after seeing all the ways in which the internet can be darker than it is beautiful, but the reality is that this really doesn’t have to be the way things stay. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities for change that are being taken advantage of right this moment.
For one thing, many people are making an active and intentional shift in the way they operate online. They work to avoid placing undue expectations on others and try to help alleviate the stress of that constant need to be available.
What’s more, there are plenty of more technical ways in which people are pushing to make a change as well. One example is companies working to remove your data from the internet. If you don’t want everything about you to be available to anyone who wants to take a look, then it doesn’t have to be.
Ultimately, the internet is still an incredibly new piece of technology – and people are still learning how to make something so powerful and useful accessible to all without it becoming dangerous. It is a constant process, but an important one – so hopefully, someday, it won’t be a curse at all.