BY MATTHEW EVANGELISTA
How would you describe yourself?
Twenty years ago the definitive answer would have been to describe a collection of clothing, social circles, hobbies and beliefs. Every detail, small or large, physical or opinion, added to identity. The public persona was an accurate marker for character.
This led to a massive cultural division between radically different groups. Hippies, yuppies, skinheads, punks and everyone in between, judged and were judged by that public persona.
But the Internet has broken down these walls of culture and personality and bridged the division. It has allowed anybody to understand everything. It has redefined thought and opinion, and given us a first-hand view at the countless wonderful and disgusting parts of human culture.
The Internet defies description, and it defies to be described. It changes and breathes as billions of voices discuss and create on an equal platform. It exists in another world largely mirroring our own, through chat rooms and image boards and the constant discourse of interests and ideas.
Humanity is better off. We’re happier and better informed than we’ve ever been, and for every Internet horror story, five positive ones take its place.
The Internet is one of, if not the most, empathetic of our creations. It inspires understanding on a global and voluntary level. Without it we would be ignorant to the whys and the hows of people and their situations. Our global view would be completely different. Free speech without an anonymous platform would be completely different.
So while arguments are plentiful on the negative effects this new technology has on our psyche, those stories and reports are only distractions. Are we more rude, do we covet more and do we really lie to ourselves and others on social media? The answer is no.
The Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, an integral part of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, concluded in 2009 that when using the Internet, sections of our brain receive higher signal intensity. This means we have better control over our decision-making and are capable of more complex reasoning.
The general effect of the Internet in 2017 is more laughter and more camaraderie. It has fostered a global community that builds the individual up and makes us more empathetic individuals who strive to be skilled, friendlier, healthier and smarter.
On the Internet it doesn’t matter if you’re a punk or a nerd. What matters is how you treat one another.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.