Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Good and Bad of Online Interactions

In this day and age, it is absolutely crucial to stay up-to-date with technology and the cyber world. Though you can actually live without the internet, when you're still trying to pave the path of success in this world, online interactions become somewhat essential. However, there are also those who still don't know how to handle the internet well. So let's learn more about online interactions! Here I am going to show some of the good and the bad sides of communicating with people virtually, how to handle the bad and how to peruse the good. Let's start with the bad then end with the good!

Lack of Empathy

Online communication means that there is no physical interactions involved. When that happens, people tend to judge their opponent according to the response given or lack thereof. This obviously excludes facial reactions as well as other physical reflexes. So when someone spreads hatred toward a certain someone on the net, they don't see their pained look or hear their sobs unless this is being posted voluntarily - which can't happen all the time, of course. Therefore, the proprietor often forget that there is a person with a heart on the other side of the monitor, not simply some readable data without a face. This also goes the other way around, though. People often regard internet idols as perfect beings, when the idols know they've very carefully filtered their posts. And when they show a little sign of weakness, these same people could turn to attack them.
How to handle: Ask these three general questions of speaking your mind: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If the thought doesn't pass through all three of these, please refrain from putting it out there. The world is never in need for bad intentions, both virtually or otherwise. If you're on the receiving end, please have a strong heart. Being on the net is like being exposed to the rest of the world with a click of your finger, so it could obviously be quite risky. Otherwise, you can always shut off.

Oblivion toward Boundaries

As I've just said, being online means that everyone in the whole world could see what you post with the click of their finger. This means everyone! I really need to stress that because internet in general doesn't have a filter, this means that all sorts of people - from good to bad - could get there and see everything as much as the next person. Also, whatever you post on the net will be there permanently. Sure, you can delete it. But it will stay on their database forever and, if someone's smart enough, they could extract it and repost everything three times over - or maybe before you could delete it too, which everyone can do. What's worse, they could use whatever you post to twist your words as well as edit your pictures in a way that could strip you off your dignity.
How to handle: Post smartly! Think before you click that "post" button, basically ask yourself: "Will I regret this? If yes, how much? Is it worth posting in the first place?" Personally, I would refrain from posting anything I would never show anyone in real life anyway, such as nude photos, way-too-personal status updates, selfie spams, and criminal activities. If you really have to address someone online, go directly to that person and tell them in confidence. That's always the best way.

The Limitation of the Written Language

If you're an avid internet user, you will know that 99.99% of online interactions involve the written words. And it doesn't take a tech savvy person to know that the written words can only convey so very little of a person's actual meaning and intentions. The written words sadly cannot convey intonations as much as spoken words can. Misunderstandings could arise, which could start a cyber war if taken too far. Although the internet has made it easier with emoticons these days, they cannot grasp each and every emotion familiar to mankind either. Also, the only way you could use these emoticons is through typing or clicking them, which don't always reflect how a person's actually feeling. If you've used the internet long enough, you must have done the "straight-face LOL," to say the least.
How to handle: Read through the lines but not between them! This means to remember the depth of a person's statement without seeing the double meaning behind it. Think positively and do not assume the worse. Shut your judgmental self for once and do not suspect everyone to be a fake. But also recognise if a person's in trouble and they try to hide it with words. Make sure you let them you that you could lend a hand to help.

Extermination of Physical Interactions

Let's step back from the internet for a bit. Now, what has been going on in real world while everyone is busy scrolling through webpages? You would know. This isn't an issue that's never been brought up before: people become less communicative and more insensitive toward real-world issues and real people. You must know how it feels when you're the only one in your group of friends who didn't have their phone and everyone was so busy staring at their phone screens. People tend to enjoy interacting with technologies more than actual people these days. The world has grown silent except for the ringtones and pings of phone notifications. If this goes on, the world could come to an end and nobody would know unless it makes it into social media. Scary, I know.
How to handle: Take at least a few hours off your gadgets, maybe while they're charging! Go out with your friends and promise not to bring your phones, or maybe just turn them off for a while. This is a crazy idea but maybe you could just TALK to them, instead of texting them. See the beauties of the world and refrain from posting a photo of your day until, at least, AFTERWARDS! Try a new restaurant without seeing other people's reviews online first, just frikkin' EAT the food to find out. Who knows? Maybe you'll grow to like the real world.

Blank Slate

Going online is like moving to a different place where nobody knows you over and over and over again. And, guess what? It's mostly for free! You join new social media, create a new username and post new things; you get to re-invent yourself time and time again. So let's say you have a bad rep at school, you can go online, use a name entirely different from your original name and post things that nobody ever knew about you before, things that everyone misunderstood or shoved aside in real life because you're not a cool kid (maybe?). It's fantastic! Starting over is as easy as scrapping your old blog and starting a new one. Nobody needs to know your old reputation and you can create as many first impressions as you want. It's also a great way to get into a hobby that you're too afraid to show your IRL friends.

Everyone Is Equal

Because everything on the internet happens virtually, everyone is treated only according to the reputation they've made online. Everyone has the same chance as the next person and everything could happen with just a click of the mouse (or touchpad). This means all system goes: you can talk to that singer you love without having to brave their bodyguards or pay good money, people can approach you through your social media no matter where they live and people can collaborate without ever having to physically meet. Although getting a response is a different matter, at least, thanks to the simplicity of online interactions, you can push aside your timidity and interact with people you otherwise would never have the guts to greet if you saw them on the streets.

Worldwide Friendships

Now, with the timidity gone, you can take it a step further: forming worldwide friendships! You know how in real life, when you see a foreigner walking past, you probably won't address them if they didn't address you first, though you want to? On the internet, it seems completely fine and normal to do that. In fact, I think that's what you're supposed to do. Before you realise it, you've been interacting long enough that you form a friendship with someone living halfway around the world. It doesn't seem all that impossible anymore to have friends from around the globe because the internet makes it seem like the person is right in front of you. Better yet, you could understand what they're saying what with translating tools available. Who knows? Maybe one day you will meet each other in the flesh.

Maintaining Old Relationships

Not only is the internet good to start anew and meet new people, it's also good to rekindle or maintain old ones. Living halfway across the globe from your loved ones doesn't seem all that scary anymore, what with video call apps and social media. You can share your life with your loved ones without them having to be present at all. I know, it's not quite the same, but it's definitely way better than, say, 20 years ago, when the only way you could keep in touch is through landlines and letters, which could take ages to arrive. Also, you can find old acquaintances who you drifted apart from long ago and rekindle your friendships, catch up on things while you were apart and share new things together, no matter where they live.

Now I hope with this information at your disposal, you all are ready to be smart users (or even developers) of the internet. Over the past 20 years, when the development of the internet has been rapidly moving, the view of this other world has also changed, starting from the bad rumours of it corrupting your mind or flooded with con-artists to the actual reality that it could be filled with good people and connect people from across the globe. I advise you to keep each and every one of these points at heart so that you can learn to maximise your online interactions. As always, if you have some more advice and points or critiques to add, please leave them on the comment down below. I'll be sure to get through them one by one.

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