Friday, May 29, 2015

Me and the Internet - A Love-Hate Relationship || An Essay

The internet was still fairly new when I was growing up.  So were personal computers.  I remember going to my dad's classroom and getting so excited to play "The Way Things Work" on his school computer.  We got a home computer when I was in middle school, but I didn't really have a need for it.  We didn't have any games, and apps hadn't been invented yet, so what was I supposed to do with it?  Mavis Beacon taught me just about everything she could, and I was a typing pro.  I satisfied my word-processing needs by sitting in my bedroom, nestled in a pile of pillows on the floor between the bookshelf and the desk, typing away my emotions on my grandfather's old typewriter.  My most emotional and heart-felt poems were saved for scraps of yellowed paper, of course, and I saved them in little bundles wrapped with twine, "hidden" on my bottom shelf.  That was much more romantic anyway.

By the time the internet became a household necessity, my dreams of becoming a world-famous writer had changed, and all I wanted to do was "chat" with my friends on MSN.  We spent hours talking about mindless nothings, updating our statuses with witty or overly-emotional phrases with hidden meanings, and the other internet time was spent researching for school projects.  YouTube wasn't invented yet, neither was Facebook.  And I still preferred to read books in my free time.  I didn't obsess over my looks and I was a fairly confident person.  That's not to say that I thought I was perfect, but I certainly wasn't insecure.

Fast forward about 12 years, to the present day.

Now... Now is the era of YouTube and blogs.  Mommy blogs, travel blogs, lifestyle blogs, DIY blogs, SO MANY BLOGS.  There are people making a living from blogging.  There are people making a living from YouTube.  And I am the reason why they are successful.  Because people like me watch them and read them, and follow them, and can't get enough of them.  I love them.

But now I feel like the internet is starting to betray me.  Blogs and YouTube are starting to influence me in a negative way.  It has been a gradual process, but now I watch these YouTube Beauty Experts and start to realize that I don't have perfect skin, perfect eyebrows, perfect hair.  There are so many products that I "need."  The internet is starting to show me all the things about myself that I didn't know I was supposed to hate.  Like the fact that I have freckles, or that my eyes are "hooded."  Or that I don't have an effortless golden tan.

It was a slow process, getting to this point.  I've never considered myself to be an insecure person.  We all have aspects of our appearance that we don't care for, but I never gave it much thought.  I've always had boyfriends, and I always assumed I was attractive.  But eventually, after watching hours and hours of "foundation for perfect skin," and "how to make your eyes look bigger," and "the best fake tan," it started to get to me.  My subconscious is telling me that I'm not good enough, and it's showing itself in weird ways.  Suddenly I'm asking my husband if I need to shave the peach fuzz above my upper lip, and trying to justify spending $20 on mascara.  And I don't like it.  And what I start to think is, if I, a grown woman, almost 30 years old, can be so influenced by this new internet culture, how much more so are the teens and pre-teens of this current age?

I'm lucky that I have some perspective and life experiences to remind myself that this beauty-obsessive internet is not normality.  I'm lucky that I have the discipline and will-power to stop watching so many YouTube videos, to stop spending so much time on Pinterest or Bloglovin'.  I'm lucky that I have a husband who loves me no matter what and reminds me that a little peach fuzz above my lip is not something to freak out about.  But not everyone is so lucky.  Most teenagers don't know life without an iphone and high-speed internet.  They live in a very confusing world, and I'm worried for them.

As with most things I write, I don't really know how to end this little essay.  I suppose the whole point of writing was just to say this: Be mindful of what you are watching.  Be careful with what you put into your mind.  Because everything you see and listen to has the potential to affect you, whether you realize it or not!

Alone with my tea

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