I won’t debate; the Internet is a great and wonderful thing full of information and ideas. But it’s also a massively destructive place; the number of teenager admitted to hospital since 2011 for eating disorders has gone up from 1,000 to 1,800, and these are only the cases that make it to hospital. The reason for this increase? Social media. Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest idealise having a perfect, sleek and toned body, complete with thigh gaps and bikini bridges. Never heard of these things? I don’t blame you. They are just two things which teenage girls are under the pressure to have in order to have the perfect ‘desirable’ body. A thigh gap is pretty self explanatory, but a bikini bridge? Look it up, it’s an odd ideal.
All of these isn’t actually what I’ve come to rant about, I just thought that it is an incredibly important issue. I can speak from experience as to the destructive power of the eating disorders created by social media and the Internet. My best friend was admitted to hospital just under two years ago, came out of hospital, went back in and had to be force fed through a tube up her nose. Every lunchtime when I sit down at school, there are always a few girls who have little more than cucumber and lettuce on their plates. It’s sad really, as these are the girls who are at an already perfectly healthy weight, if not under.
Okay, so I really will get to the main issue of my post. It’s actually not how the Internet can destroy people physically, but mentally.
I’m talking about those step by step tutorials, such as hair tutorials or how to make something ‘easily’. I’m actually now overwhelmed with a sense of hypocrisy, because I am guilty of writing tutorials, but they’re very different to what I mean.
I’m talking about this sort of thing:
We’ve all seen them. We’ve all tried them. We’ve all been reduced to a pathetic, angry mass of loathing and self pity on the floor after trying one.
I recently attempted the top tutorial for ‘heatless halo curls’. It actually turned out more of a birds nest with hair pins thrown in for amusement. I finished with considerably less hair than I started with.
And I was filled with an undeniable hatred for the perfect, smiling model who was doing the tutorial. It was then that I thought: ‘why does the Internet always make me feel stupid and bad about myself?’
I pondered the question while picking out hair pins and brushing my hair back to its original haven’t-just-been-dragged-through-a-bush look. The internet is supposed to make our lives easier, not harder. You would think that, with a wealth of information available at the click of a button or touch of a screen, mankind would be settled and peaceful, content in having knowledge for every possible situation. But this information is often just a false sense of security. We all know people who think they are clever, just because they can access whatever they need to know very quickly.
The Internet has changed our way of thinking dramatically. We no longer have to worry about not knowing a fact for an essay, or how to mend that broken shoe, or even how to find love; it’s all presented on a plate for us.
Things that we should be able to do, we are now reliant on the Internet for, and I am a culprit of this myself. Having grown up in an age where the Internet has really come into force majorly, I know that I often Googled how to make pancakes, even though I could probably do it if I gave it some thought, or even, heaven forbid, asked someone.. But it’s nice to know that I have some back up – something to guide me every step of the way.
The interesting thing is, the Internet is such a huge part of our lives now, that when we have no WiFi, we feel useless, moaning about our lack of entertainment: ‘What am I going to do without WIfi?’ ‘I haven’t got any WiFi here, have you got WiFi here? What is the connection like?’
Would I go so far as to say that the rapid advancement of technology has changed humans, changed our brains perhaps? Maybe, maybe not, but it is clear that even small children have grasped the concept of modern life far quicker than their parents, who still use brick phones which need to be wound up before use, or something! Many children these days ridicule their parents’ lack of understanding of the modern world, seeing them as outdated and stuck in the past, but the fact is, nobody likes change, and when change happens within a generation, it is hard to catch up when all the values and ways of life you grew up with are rapidly being lost.
So back to my original question: why does the Internet always make me feel so stupid?
I think that, although I am from the generation which claims to own the Internet and be able to harness its ful, potential, good and bad, my brain hasn’t had the time to adapt to this yet, and things which look simple in pictures are in fact really hard for me to understand. The Internet doesn’t make me feel stupid, I make me feel stupid. Before the Internet, things were done through trial and error, and no one expected to get it right first time. But now, we are constantly bombarded with perfection and these tutorials which make us so irritated are a good example. The smiling girl in the tutorial created that tutorial by trial and error, trying out different methods before getting the right one, but all we see is the final product, and we expect it to be simple enough for us to be able to do first time. But it never is, and that goes for life too.
We see people who seem to be living the high life effortlessly, having the latest car, most beautiful lover and the biggest houses, but in fact, most of these people worked to get there, even if it doesn’t look like it. Of course, some of these people did very little to earn their position, and as a result, we have less respect for them. We have even more respect for the people who constantly work, yet are never rewarded, and these are the people who make up the majority of the population, but most notable is (of course) Leonardo di Caprio, who churns out brilliant film after brilliant film, is nominated for every award under the sun, and yet never gets what he most wants: that Oscar. Could this be why his plight has touched the hearts of so many? Is it because, in him, we see a part of ourselves which always works for the prize but never gets it, and it is given to those whom we see as less worthy?
I am aware that this post was a long, rambling and deep one, but I feel I put across some important issues and gave you a small insight into my head.
What do you think? How does the Internet make you feel? Has its rapid advancement taken you by surprise? Or are you sorted and Sussex with it? Comment your thoughts and ideas.