The Internet (the 27th of May, 2013)

The Internet (the 27th of May, 2013)

A Chapter by Erin

In which I discuss the good and bad sides to the internet.


The internet is a wonderful thing indeed. You can find out quite a bit about pretty much whatever you want. You can do quite a bit on the internet as well; there are games, social media sites, and video tutorials on how to tie a shoe. This makes the internet a force for good and evil.


When I think of the internet, I think of a distraction. I think of all the hours I’ve spent on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and countless other websites I’ve found humor and joy from. I think of the loads of people I’ve been friends with, subscribed to, or followed. I think of all the pictures and videos I have laughed or cried at. I think of the stories and information I’ve had access to.


At one point in my high school career, I used my phone more for Googling random questions rather than actually interacting with other people. Whenever I had a question, I would whip out my phone and Google it.


(For the record, I only Google things. I don’t use any other website to have my questions answered. I previously had a computer made by Google, for Google, and I currently own a phone made by Google, for Google. If it isn’t obvious by now, I’m a pretty loyal fan of Google and I always will be.)


A couple of nights ago I tried to use Google to find out the name of a song I was listening to. The phone couldn’t find it, but I had the technology available to me. I have this app that “listens” to the song and then tells me the name and artist. I was about to say, “That’s pretty neat,” but honestly it’s more than neat. It’s spectacular. It’s groundbreaking. It’s magical.


This is what the internet can do for us. It can tell us the weather in Hong Kong. It can tell us the latest stock market news. It can keep us in touch with people we went to middle school with. It lets us know when something happens, even if it happens thousands of miles away from us. That’s an amazing thing that we have access to.


Although we have this incredible piece of technology, I think we don’t understand how powerful it is. I think we don’t understand it has shaped our lives in so many ways.


Now, I’m going to be pretty particular when I talk about why it has shaped our lives (rather, my life). I don’t know how the internet shapes your life. I don’t know what your deal is. However, I know my deal with the internet. I’m pretty much an expert on how the internet has shaped my life. So I’m going to discuss how the internet has impacted my life for a bit, and then probably move onto other subjects, since that’s how most of these passages work.


I once said I was a seasoned traveler of YouTube. No really, those were my exact words. I don’t remember when I saw my first video on YouTube, but I remember which ones might have been my first videos. I remember a majority of the people/groups I have been subscribed to. When it comes to my personal history, the site that is the eye of that storm is YouTube. This is because the majority of the time I have spent on the internet has been spent on YouTube.


Not Facebook, not Twitter, not even some other lesser known social media site. YouTube.


I don’t really know why YouTube was the site that attracted me the most. Maybe it was because I was so against MySpace and Facebook. Maybe it was because I like the talking pictures a lot more than the silent ones. It’s probably a combination of both, but the point is I fell in love with YouTube and I still spend quite a bit of time on it. I definitely spend less time on it than when I was in high school, but I still am subscribed to a lot of people and I try to keep up with them.


I guess the coolest group I’m subscribed to would be vlogbrothers. John and Hank Green are amazing people with amazing content. I strongly suggest you check them out. I’m subscribed to a load of other people, but they don’t have a back story quite like the Vlog Brothers.


So I was originally subscribed to TheFineBros, and when their YouTube TV show thing (MyMusic, not the best but I really have enjoyed it) came out I subscribed to that as well. MyMusic features YouTube artists, and one of those people is Meghan Tonjes (she’s really good, I recommend her every hour of the day). She wrote (and sings) a song called “The Fault Is In Our Stars,” which is a really good song. It’s also based on the novel The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I actually watched this one video of Meghan Tonjes’ live performace of the song at VidCon (a convention for those who make online videos) and John Green was in the video. So it was a connection upon a connection and YouTube comments that made me curious about what the references were referencing and that’s why I’m subscribed to vlogbrothers today.


That’s what the internet can do.


The internet has the ability to make you curious and expand your interests and present you with really good content from many different genres and lots of different corners of the internet. It can connect you to others in ways you can never imagine.


So many good things came from my journey to becoming subscribed to John and Hank. It connected me to three YouTube channels, a really good song, and a really good book. The internet actually connected me to media outside of the internet itself.


While I’m thinking about it, the internet has also played a large role in my music taste today. Without the internet, I wouldn’t be aware of (including but not limited to) the following artists: Approaching Nirvana, Breaking Benjamin, Daniel Kim, Death Cab for Cutie, Imagine Dragons, Lindsey Stirling, Marilyn Manson, Outasight, Owl City, Tickle Me Pink, and Watsky. And for your information, I had a much longer list but I cut it down.


With the internet, I have bought a lot of books and CDs I love to death to this day.


With the internet, I am aware of so-and-so’s favorite ice cream flavor.


With the internet, I can become an expert on Shakespeare in an hour or so.


That’s a pretty amazing tool.


Yet we take it for granted.


Think about it; what is the internet famous for?


I’ll give you a second.


My answer is cats. Young cats. Old cats. Happy cats and grumpy cats. Doctor cats and ninja cats. 8-bit cats flying through space and cats playing the keyboard. Pictures of cats and videos of cats. Even making fun of the internet’s obsession with cats.


We seem to be blissfully unaware that the internet literally has the answer to just about any question you can think of. Instead, we spend our time making cats famous.


But it isn’t just cats. It’s the videos of children biting each other and having temper tantrums. It’s the girls singing about Thanksgiving and the days of the week. It’s the people after they have visited the dentist and fathers using their God-given American right to shoot their daughters’ laptops. We as the travelers of the internet have the power to popularize pretty much anyone and anything we want. And we popularize a lot of content. We give teenage girls and animals alike their fifteen minutes of fame.


At the same time, we have the power to destroy someone. We also have the power to joke about pretty serious things.


The one thing I can think of that I believe is pretty serious is First World Problems. We have memes dedicated to the First World Problems. But why not? They’re relatable and funny! We even have First World Cat Problems!


Yet first world problems are kind of a serious topic. It really displays our selfishness. We take so much granted and then make fun of how much we take for granted. Most of us laugh at the funny picture of a girl crying above the caption about running out of milk and then we walk away. We don’t realize this meme is us, every day in a lot of different situations.


It’s so easy to get mad at “While children in Africa are starving, you’re wasting food” these days, but it’s such a true statement. And I think the meme should be taken a little more seriously.


We are privileged, fortunate people living in a first world country and we should be so thankful for that. In another life, we could be those people in Africa or Asia or even America and Europe. Because there are people who do not get enough food everyday and do not have access to life-saving medicine and do not have twenty different pairs of shoes. They’re lucky if they have one pair of shoes.


Therefore, we should be a little more thankful for the food we eat and the clothes we wear and the houses we live in.


Moving on…


Remember Rebecca Black? If you don’t, I don’t know where you were but she was pretty famous back in 2009 or some odd year (ended up being 2011, but I was right about the odd year thing) and she sang the song “Friday.” I still quote it on Fridays because why not. Well, if you haven’t heard of her then you probably don’t know about the massive amount of dislikes and the enormous amount of hate comments she got.


No, really. I sat back and watched when the original video was still up and a third of the comments I read said something along the lines of “We hate you. Kill yourself.”


She was thirteen or fourteen and people were telling her to kill herself. This is the kind of society we have raised and nurtured. This is the kind of society where it’s socially acceptable to call people names and wish physical harm to them.


Even though she came back and wrote other music (and her recent stuff is actually pretty good. No, really, go on and see for yourself), and this music isn’t anywhere near Friday in terms of quality, there is still a massive amount of dislikes because of her Friday video. It will probably follow her for the rest of her life.


Because this is the society we live in: One bad mistake on the internet can/will follow you for the rest of your life.


This kind of reminds me of a comic I saw on The Oatmeal (a genius, if I do say so myself) that accurately describes comments on internet-based content.


100 comments detailing your success of the content is the greatest feeling in the world. 1 comment detailing how much of a failure you are and how horrible your content is can really damage your character and self-esteem.


Because I actually have a YouTube channel, I can really speak on this subject. All I do is post lyrics videos to songs. That’s all I do. And I mostly get “Thanks so much” and “Great job” and “Insert random thing slightly relating to the song here.” But sometimes I get some pretty harsh comments.


I can think of three specific examples, although I know there are a lot more than this.


1. There’s a song called “I Hung My Head” and it’s by Sting and it’s a great song. However, Johnny Cash did a cover of the song and he changed a couple of the words. I have nothing against this. Johnny Cash is very talented. There are other people that have problems with this.


I remember one guy in particular wasn’t very nice about this. He commented, saying I had screwed up the lyrics. I looked over the lyrics (I have a real live book by the actual artist, Sting, so I say that’s pretty reliable on my part) and replied to him, saying that the lyrics were correct and he was thinking of a different version. He replied by calling me a liar for saying this was the original version.


This doesn’t seem like much, and it wasn’t, really. I didn’t take much offense to it. Still, it hurts to be called a liar by someone who has never met you. I had to compose myself before replying to him (something along the lines of “treat others the way you would like to be treated” and “have no regrets” crossed my mind) and others did come to my defense on it. The guy ended up apologizing for calling me a liar, but still said Johnny Cash’s version was the better of the two, which I don’t agree with, but whatever.


The point is liar.


Liar, liar, pants on fire.


It actually hurt me more than I thought it would. It doesn’t make any difference, because I knew I was correct (Sting wrote about it in the book, the internet agreed with me, etc.) but it’s never fun to be called a liar.


2. One of my very first lyrics videos is not very good. I didn’t have much in the ways of reliable sources and so I made up quite a few of the lyrics. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong.) I also spelled a couple of the words wrong. Anyway, this one guy commented three separate times, telling me I was wrong here and there and then backing it up with really stupid comments. In fact, I’m gonna go find this comment. Give me a second.


The one I’m thinking of isn’t that good, so it won’t be the one I will share. However, while thinking about that comment, he (I think it was a he) took the tone of wrong, wrong, wrong, to the point where I felt like such an idiot for even thinking about posting it. All I wanted to do was help people in ways of music!


He ended up taking his tone down a notch and forgiving me for my lyrical sins, but he wasn’t even the worst one.


The exact word-for-word comment is as follows:


“Isn't the purpose of making a "lyrics" video to post the CORRECT lyrics? Can't believe how many errors are in this.”


It’s true, and I know this. The person makes a good point. At that point, however, I had fixed a majority of the errors that had been presented to me (and believe me, five or six different people pointed out the exact same mistakes in the exact same reply thread, so I knew there were mistakes and I had fixed them). I deserve the rage, I guess.


I don’t think I deserve the tone. There were other people that were much nicer about the whole ordeal. People like that one made it seem like it was the end of the freaking world.


Then there were people that said “Don’t worry about the errors, thanks for posting!” but it didn’t make any difference at that point. The damage was done. There are comments like this that make me want to delete the videos and be done with YouTube, although the majority of the comments are the exact opposite.


3. I feel like any other YouTube channel understands my frustration with this comment.




No seriously, that was the entire comment. No explanation, no details, no indication on which part of my video was gay. I didn’t even know a lyrics video could be considered gay. I didn’t think the video had any sort of sexual preference or emotion attached to it.


This reminds me of a vlogbrothers video detailing the exact same frustration. It’s titled “GAY is NOT an INSULT.” Which it isn’t an insult. Not in any way, shape, or form. It’s more of an annoyance than anything else.


But the internet never seems to understand that “gay” is not an insult. Which brings me to trolls but I don’t really want to talk about them in this passage.


I think one of the greatest beacons of hope that can come from these three tales of YouTube comments is that there are mostly good people scrolling through the comments. Whenever I am attacked or degraded by somebody, there are others that come to my rescue and tell me everything’s all right. They remind me that most of the people who watch my videos don’t really care if I spell a word wrong, as long as I fix it and apologize for it. In fact, most people don’t actually care if a word is spelled incorrectly. I’m much better about not making mistakes, but I’m human and make mistakes all the time. It’s the way the world works. And it’s nice to be reminded that I’m not a complete and utter failure because of those mistakes.


Although I live in a society where people are harassed over the internet, there are always (and I mean always) people who come to the rescue and remind the world that it isn’t the apocalypse just because a mistake has been made. The world can take a chill pill and sit back in its chair and breathe. And then move on.


Here’s another example relating to the bad side of the internet:


Remember the ABC movie Cyberbully? It starred Emily Osment (Hannah Montana, she was Lily the best friend) and she was a girl who got a laptop for her birthday. She was mercilessly tormented by girls from her high school to the point of suicide (yeah, this was not a happy movie). The entire movie follows this teenager as she tries to cope with cyberbullying. It also follows her mom as she desperately and successfully tries to bring justice to a really terrible situation. And the end of the movie seems to be pretty hypocritical (in my opinion, but I won’t spoil it) but the point of the movie was simple: the internet can be a really damaging place and there should be more regulations in place to bring justice when justice is due.


And you might think, well this is a movie, whatever. It’s all propaganda and it’s romanticized by Hollywood and other big words.


Well, there’s mention of a girl at the end of the movie, right after the last scene and right before the credits roll. Her name is Megan Meier.


Megan was a thirteen year old girl who was harassed by a person via MySpace (she thought it was a guy, but it turns out it was the mother of her friend) and ended up committing suicide. I briefly remember hearing about her when I was a kid (she died in 2006), and it was a big deal at the time. To me, the worst part about this is that the lady basically got away with it; she was slapped with a misdemeanor and that was the end of that. There was apparently not enough evidence to convict her of the crime.


Why did that happen? Because there were no repercussions. Because there was nothing the law could do to bring justice for the death of a thirteen year old girl.


Amanda Todd. Ryan Halligan. Tyler Clementi.


Along with Megan, these are the four people on Wikipedia that are stated to have killed themselves due in part to cyberbullying. There are countless others who have done this as well.


This is the society we live in. It’s all right to bully people online because you don’t have to see the consequences.


From my way of understanding things, there are two major things we can do to stop this.


1. Make the repercussions of bullying others online more damaging. There needs to be real consequences for hurting others.


2. Don’t bully others online. Don’t say bad things about other people. It’s really that simple.


You see? The internet is a force for good and evil. Of course, I see more good than evil when it comes to the internet, but I can’t ignore the fact the evil is out there and it actually has a real life effect.


That was the closest thing I could think of when it come to a conclusion. You’ll hear from me when I think of something else to say.


P.S. I didn’t include links to things because of the whole “I believe in you, you can do it yourself” thing. Because I believe in you. And I really do think you can look up the videos and information on your own.



© 2013 Erin

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Added on May 28, 2013
Last Updated on May 28, 2013
Tags: internet, deep, thoughtful, powerful, bullying, google, youtube, vlogbrothers



., CO

My name is Erin (well, yes, that is indeed obvious). I'm 19, I'm in college (physics major ALL THE WAYYYYY), and I understand the boredom of all my summers will be upon me for the next 10 years (depen.. more..