Our Generation’s Greatest Frenemy: The Internet

Its time for your college essay. You surf the Internet for hours just to find an ounce of inspiration. You spend an entire afternoon spelling out just the first two sentences of your paper. Why?

The same place you turn to for the convenience of your research paper needs is the same place that will pull you away from your work: The Internet

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is great overall. Instant access to just about everything from food delivery to torrented books is the epitome of convenience for college students. The Internet and the useful outlets that have came out of it are symbols of innovation and progress. However, as our generation is exposed to such great tools, it is important to remember that we can take advantage of them by using them to cut down on our heavy work, not to make it drag on. It does not have to take an entire day to do an assignment that you could have done in a few hours. If your teacher is letting you cite internet sources, keep in mind that this cuts out the time you would have to take to go to a library, walk by towering book shelves, and skim a few pages. That time could really add up! But if getting lost in a few books feeds you more information then Internet surfing to find something relevant and meaningful, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your approach. After all, how did the generations that did not have Internet access reach their sources?

You know that feeling of frustration? When you walk into a room and forget why you’re there? There’s a similar ring to that when you sit down at your computer to order your books, but instead find yourself scrolling through a retail site while your books sell out. Tendencies of distraction are at an all time high, and people just keep forgetting that thing that they were going to do. While library aisles tend to hold few distractions, the Internet is boundless. However, the Internet can give you the freshest research updated merely seconds ago. Take advantage of that.

Do what you can with what you have. Pinterest some hairstyles for your formal. Capture your favorite outfit on Instagram to share. Yelp that new sushi spot. Take advantage of dating or matrimony sites if you legitimately want to meet (or troll) someone. But scrolling through photos of clothes that you’ll never wear will not help you unless you’re actively looking for inspiration. Value your time. Technology should help people progress, and the Internet has been extremely useful in making things easier, but several hours a day have been surrendered to it. So did we really save time on the Internet or just waste it?

The Internet lives in your phone too. This makes things so convenient, that to not have Internet access on your phone is not only an inconvenience, it’s an imposition. Without Internet access you’d have to just sit down with your hands folded and stare out the car window. A few decades back this probably would not be so horrible, but nowadays it sounds like a form of torture. So our patience has worn short with the instant access that we’ve grown accustomed to. Keeping your phone away from yourself to take in the world for what it is (what it really is outside of Instagram) is almost like a new form of mediation. But why would we want to face the world we live in when we could scroll through Twitter as our essay sits with considerable progress (that means that the header is done).

People show different faces from what they dawn in real life, they project multiple tones and put up countless facades through social media. We all know this, it isn’t news, but its something worth keeping in mind. Someone you see often might not speak to you much (or at all) but will chatter away to you on social media because it just feels safer without face to face contact (even though you can easily screenshot everything they say). Some people have extra anxiety when they’re not on the Internet, and it is difficult for them to express themselves. That’s understandable. But is it really themselves they’re expressing on the Internet? We cannot live on our phones and computers after all. The fun of watching your friend’s tones, expressions, and body language come together is gone. Yet, we cannot unlock our knuckles from around our phones because of our habit of scrolling through statuses and pictures of people we don’t really care about, we just wonder how they want to make their world look to the rest of us. The Internet Theater is just easier to stare at than our undone papers.

Just for kicks, if your Tinder isn’t loading, save your phone battery. Look at the strangers around you; catch each others’ eyes. We know that a lack of wi-fi connection might just force a human connection. If you see someone you would slide left on though, just stare at the ground, pretend you saw nothing. Abort mission.

Just for a laugh, ask the friend who only speaks to you online to say all those things to your face. You’re not a two-dimensional item that can be accessed for random entertainment; you’re a tangible person. Challenge yourself and those around you to say something. When speaking face to face, people are not only selecting their words more carefully, they’re evaluating their thoughts more deeply before breathing them onto someone’s presence.

Our generation has made great strides through the Internet. We have built ourselves stronger upon our conveniences, and we will continue to find exponential progress when we use our technology for the best of what it offers.

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