Sometimes I feel like the internet gets a bad reputation. Sometimes I am someone who fuels that bad reputation. Sure, there are many pitfalls to the online world – trolling, identity fraud, people becoming famous for stupid things, unwanted adverts trying to make us think we need unnecessary things like diet shakes, a vanity focused culture… the list of negatives about the internet is endless. But so is the list of positives, and top of my list of positives is the feeling of community.
I have always had friends, but not all of my friends shared the same interests as I did. I never felt left out because of this, but there were times when the differences in our tastes and hobbies were really apparent. When I was 18 and started going on nights out, my music taste was different to everyone else’s so we never went to clubs that played the music that I chose to listen to. In my spare time, I wrote but didn’t know anyone else who did. My style was different to theirs and sometimes I didn’t want to ask for opinions on an outfit I had seen and liked. I never wanted to change my friends and was happy to have my own interests beyond our shared ones, but sometimes it would have been nice to swap book recommendations or to rave about Blink 182’s new album with a friend.
Enter the internet.
Since starting blogging, I have made connections on WordPress and Instagram with so many incredible people that I would have never crossed paths with otherwise. I read about people’s lives from around the world. I share stories and anecdotes with them. My writing gets to reach a wider audience and in turn so does theirs. I learn about so many different topics and viewpoints that I would have been naive to without having this online platform in my life. So many of the interviews that I have shared on here wouldn’t have been possible without the internet because I simply would never have heard of or met some of the people I have been lucky enough to speak to. This week alone I have utilised the power of the internet and met up with a group of girls who have all moved to Sydney. I found them because we are all members of an online travel group. Our shared interest meant that we would have things in common and the internet was the middle man that allowed us to cross paths. If it weren’t for the internet, I would never have met any of those girls and I would be clueless about how to make friends in a new city and a new country.
We have the internet to thank for so many things. It gives us a voice, one that we might not feel strong enough to use in our reality, and a means of finding likeminded people. We can log on after a bad day and lose ourselves for a little while. We can have access to the lives of people we admire or look up to. We can participate in discussions about things that matter to us or things that we want to learn more about.
The internet shows us that we are part of a community. You might have a rare illness and know no one else with it or have been bullied about something that you think makes you different but with the click of a button or a quick search you can find tens, hundreds or thousands of people like you. People who want to talk, to reach out, to create a connection. Isn’t that magical?
I feel lucky to be alive now. I feel lucky that I can like someone’s photo to give them a boost that they might need that day and pick up tips about where to go in Sydney from their feed. I love that I can find out about new products or films from people who like similar things to me. I feel blessed that I am able to talk to and connect with so many people that I might not have been able to otherwise.
The internet, when we use it properly, is a wonderful tool that can connect us more than anything could ever hope to divide us. We can tell someone on the other side of the world that their writing moved us, that we like their style or thank them for the recommendation of a new Netflix show. At the push of a button we can make friends with people who live on a different time zone and live a life the opposite to our own. We can log on and we can build bridges and connections that are stronger than the ones we have with the people we have known all of our lives. We can find our place in the world and help others find theirs too. How lucky are we to have that power at our fingertips?