The online world is a whole new planet we humans of the Earth created inside our own. And most of us don’t realize it.
Like Earth, it has inhabitants, resources, population control (as of 2013, 2.4 billion of the 7 billion people on Earth are online), leaders and followers, and its own good and bad.
The problem is that most of us are like aliens dominating Planet Online for selfish reasons, not realizing that it’s a planet we also all live in.
Think about it. When you create a profile online, you’re creating an identity that will then interact with all the other entities existing in it. You choose your friends, enemies, heroes, idols, even lovers, among the population. You get born, grow up, and die.
Question is, when you’re born in Planet Online, what do you see? Is it a planet that makes you sad or happy? Does it work toward war or peace? Does it give your life a purpose or will it kill you before you have truly lived? Does it shame the essence of humanity or improve it?
According to a recent University of Michigan study, Facebook makes people sadder. And with 46 percent of the 2.4 billion inhabitants of Planet Online with Facebook profiles, that can become quite a concern.
The city of Facebook offers freedom to its citizens, and in the real world, freedom is something we all seek. But with this freedom come responsibility and character. It’s no problem if the people in Facebook are just expressing themselves and are unfortunately not as happy as they’d hope. But are they promoting hate, anger, discrimination and negativity? The whole planet is actually so damned connected, no matter how huge it is, that anyone from anywhere can read what you share. Absolutely anyone can connect with you.
Ask yourself. When you stroll through the streets of Facebook, what kind of news do you loathe reading? What kind of statuses make you frown? In my case at least, these are uneducated judgment, private personal fights, disturbing and misleading stories that are passed off as facts, rigorous and ridiculous self-promotions, and insulting remarks.
It’s not the hundreds of selfies you post or the grammatical errors you commit in trying to speak a language you are not expert in, or the way you spell your name, or the statuses about you going to the gym, or taking a poop, or learning how to twerk, or Gwiyomi-ng, or sleeping.
What makes our insides twitch are statuses like “I want to die. My life has no sense.” or “I hate gays, or Asians, or Blacks, or nerds, or blondes, or fat, or anyone who has 2 legs and walks!”
For me, there’s no problem in posting what you feel online. But you have to be responsible for it so people reading it will be responsible for what you get to read as well. Don’t do what you don’t want done to you. Be sensitive and ask yourself how anything you share online may affect someone else. Whether we accept it or not, all people who live in Planet Online don’t and can’t live alone, or anonymously. But as on Planet Earth, there are things best kept private.
There are many ways we can turn this around, mostly through self-discipline and decency. We all want this world to be a better place to live in. And that can’t happen if we make Planet Online the exact opposite.
Every day the people in Twitter share 175 million tweets. Every 60 seconds 293,000 statuses are posted on Facebook. Even with the seemingly overwhelming data, experts say it’s still hard to tell if Planet Online is gearing toward peace or war. But because the evolution and growth of the planet is happening literally every second, with people interacting with exchanges of less than 140 characters and six-second video clips, things can change dramatically, almost instantly.
In my opinion, more and more people are overusing the freedom Planet Online gives them. This freedom gives us power—the kind we saw in “People Power” revolutions. Videos on controversies that concern the masses are given priority when they become viral online. In a way, we see a kind of unity among netizens that worked wonders in past years. But this kind of unity is very unstable: It can switch pace from promoting the good to encouraging the bad in an instant.
According to studies, 43 percent of kids have been bullied online. We see it happen in the Philippines, in the form of rude comments, photos, offensive tweets, or anonymous degrading remarks. I think the security and regulation of the Internet must catch up with the online pace because, really, the situation just gets worse and worse.
When you read a status that’s just grammatically wrong and you comment “dumb,” or when you see a selfie that looks incredibly bad to you and you comment “ugly,” or when you see a photo of someone in a bikini and you comment “slut,” you’ve just cyberbullied someone. Whether it affects that person or not is beyond the issue, because what it does is indicate that that kind of behavior is okay in Planet Online. It is NOT okay in the real world, and should not be okay online. That is, if we all agree that we’re gearing toward peace.
The average social network user receives 285 pieces of content daily, including 54,000 words and 443 minutes of video. This huge amount of information is a combination of knowledge and waste. We can now watch films online, or read books, take a course, learn a second language, and listen to music. But since everyone has the power to share and create content, gossip and lies are thrown around like facts. Some may never know they’ve just digested waste that may alter their thinking or behavior in the wrong way.
I know that what we believe as true or false has always been an individual process. But with the increasing influence of Planet Online, its effect on people should definitely be an area of concern. It used to be that the media had the primary role of disseminating information. In Planet Online, everyone is now a part of the media.
Witness how the media and netizens treated news of a celebrity sex video that was leaked online. I was surprised to read and hear the print and broadcast media announcing the video to the public. Of course, it might still have gone viral even without the media publicity, but I really expected the professionals to have handled it, well, like professionals. So the public wants to feast on a video of someone popular doing it on camera. But why tolerate it? The news I read seemed to say: “Hey, people, there’s this leaked sex video of this personality. Google it and watch it and let’s make more news about it.” It made me cringe to read the posts, tweets and reactions to the phenomenon. It saddened me that I’m looking at a world full of cruel, insensitive, and narrow-minded people—and that’s largely because it’s the kind of behavior that gets promoted and encouraged.
Let’s all declare that we’re still in full control of the information we take in. Let’s use the Internet as a tool to gain wisdom. Let’s not let waste infect people’s minds. If we want a better-thinking society, we should think better and decide wisely when we interact with people and handle data online.
Planet Online is a whole new world within our own. And now that it continues to be integrated into our daily lives, let’s not make the same mistakes that have proved destructive in our society. It took us generation after generation to establish our humanity. Once Planet Online becomes as large as ours, it will either live with us harmoniously and make us better, or destroy us. Will we be thanking or blaming each other?
Darwin M. Taylo, 23, is a blogger (darwintaylo.wordpress.com) and an indie film actor.
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