The age of the internet as a pastime is over. With the advent of the smartphone came the inevitable shift towards full connectivity, a shift in which the internet went from a tool to be utilized to an absolutist ruler orchestrating every minute detail of our mundane lives. Now, whether it’s telling us how or when to vote, spreading misinformation or holding us to impossible standards of beauty and lifestyle, the internet is ever-present in our daily affairs. We as a society have come to an impasse. At what point does the totality of the internet take away from our universal right as humans to make mistakes?
Humans are imperfect beings. That is simply the nature of our existence. Through every fault of our own, everyone messes up sometimes, and that’s perfectly alright. While generalizing statements about people are frowned upon, two things are true of every living person. The first is the intrinsic worth and value of each individual. The second is that every person has the right to make mistakes. And no, that doesn’t mean you have some universe-given right to go around purposely messing up and hurting the people around you. However, it does mean that as a human you’re going to make mistakes in your life, you’re going to mess up, and that’s OK. You’re entitled to that.
So what does this have to do with the internet? Great question. The simple fact is the internet’s scope of our lives is ever increasing. Let me be clear; the internet has brought about worlds of good, such as connecting the entirety of humankind at our very fingertips. Just the implication of such a fact are incredible. Take for instance the concept of the “citizen journalist,” the idea that with modern technology anyone can record or photograph anything and it could be seen by any number of people nearly instantly. Many breaking news stories often feature citizen recorded videos or pictures that have been uploaded to social media. This is just one of any number of examples of the good the internet can bring.
However, we must begin to ask ourselves when this complete connectivity begins to chip away at our personal freedom. Now more than ever, the internet is omnipotent; with every keystroke we come closer to sealing our own fate. What you put out there is out there forever. No take backs. For some, this has meant losing careers and job opportunities. Others have fallen victim to revenge porn, or the sharing of sexual videos or images of a individual without their permission. The internet has altered the way in which we view mistakes, allowing us to make judgments while being completely removed from a situation.
So where do we compromise? When do we say enough is enough, and leave our childish judgements behind? When will we see our culture once more flourish as we use what we’ve learned from our mistakes, to drive us further into a brighter, healthier future for all? The answer is still unclear. With the internet and its lackeys telling us how to think more and more each waking moment, we make the shift towards a society whose legacy is left not written in stone or in a painting hanging in a museum, but a legacy which is left coded in 1’s and 0’s for all to see.