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A Life Online

A Life Online

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WE LIVE ONLINE. PERSONAL MOMENTS, VIDEOS, WE SHARE EVERYTHING WITH THE WORLD FOR ONLINE GRATIFICATION. I’VE HAD A LOT OF THOUGHTS RECENTLY ABOUT HOW THIS NEW MEDIA AFFECTS THE WAY WE CONSUME NEWS AND INFORMATION, AND HERE’S MY HONEST WORDS.

I don’t really know how useful this blog post will serve in terms of how it reads to anyone but me, but i’ve been thinking a lot lately about having ‘a life online’ after attending Summer In The City, and on the flights I took last week alone where I had time to sit and think myself. It’s something that I don’t always know how to put into words, but have had a lot of thoughts about recently. I guess I can see this as more of a diary post to mull over in a few months time to see if I still feel the same, but if you identify with anything, leave me a comment with your thoughts on this topic, too.

As a generation (we are Generation Y) we’re fixated with the internet and our lives upon it. We don’t hesitate for a minute to upload our most intimate moments, our special journeys, our holidays and our parties with our friends publicly for the entire world to see. We hand over our names, our locations, our emails and our personal identification to huge corporations, and we’re monitored 24/7 through websites and apps. We’re both uncensored and desensitised, and we live within our means, uploading and sharing for gratification of numbers from those we don’t even know. We do this as if it is the most normal thing, and for Generation X and earlier to understand, it can be a little mind boggling. But it’s not just us that have changed as people, both celebrities, news and traditional media are now entirely ruled by the internet.

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Let’s look at news reporting and the mammoth way in which we consume our news has changed within the last handful of years. I’m going to use the latest and very tragic Malaysian Airlines crash in Ukraine as my example, because I spent most of the time open eyed at the things I was seeing. So unfortunately the plane crashes/is shot out of the sky (i’m not here to be bias by any means, i’m just commenting on the social analysis of the aftermath) and within minutes, videos, photos and amateur footage is all over Twitter, before spilling over onto major news networks websites, and finally on the television. We’re seeing iPhone shot footage of the plane’s explosion, we’re seeing instagrams taken from the passengers of their tickets before they board, and we’re consuming all this within the immediate minutes after the crash has taken place. We’re now a world hooked, gripped by instant news feeds, and no amount of personal detail is spared – right down to the personal instagrams and facebook profiles of the deceased raided for information on the passengers boarding, with their profile photos then displayed all over the world. I feel like choosing a new profile picture is the new ‘wearing nice underwear incase a paramedic has to cut them off’, because it’s the one thing anyone can grab about you immediately to splash everywhere and use without your permission, and without you even knowing – because you handed it over to Facebook as public property within their terms of service. Unfortunately too, and this next sentence is not pretty to read, upon searching the Malaysian hashtag for simple information, I was immediately exposed to photographs taken by people who had trespassed on to the scene, of human remains and limbs of these poor, precious people, strewn all over Twitter to see.

It got me thinking about the age old debate of censorship within the media. Countries have tried in the past to sensor Twitter and while some countries have gone to the length of shutting it down in their country – Turkey most recently – as we saw in Egypt in 2011, the protestors actually used Twitter to their advantage to talk to the world in an otherwise censored media, not willing to expose the issues of the reign of Mubarak over their very biased publications. The world in which we previously lived, was controlled for us by others. Newspapers and major news corporations only showed us what they wanted us to see, only fed us what we needed to know. But then smartphones came along, and then Facebook, YouTube and lastly the most powerful of all: Twitter. So where does this leave us now? This leaves us in a world of mostly uncensored immediate media, both powerful in free speech and freedom but damaging in terms of trauma and desensitivity to younger users, such as the photos I was exposed to of the Malaysian airlines crash.

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Does that mean our children will grow up in an even more uncensored world? Sometimes I keep myself awake at night worrying about the world my children will be born into. Will they be holding mobile phones before they can even say ‘Mum?’ Will they be pressured into portraying their entire lives all over the internet, as did their parents? Unfortunately at the moment, the answer is yes. Violence in the immediately accessible media is always on the up, never a bad thing as the world is what it is, but with prior news roll reports, they could at least spare us the bloody details before the watershed of wars and tragedies – but the problem with the internet is that there is no watershed, there is no censorship for the sake of kids. Without sounding like a protective ‘mum against..’ kind of figure, I know that as a parents I won’t want my babies to see things they don’t feel ready to see, without thinking about how and when the right time to experience that is. I want my children to connect to the world in the same way we do right now, but I worry how it will affect the way they view things growing up. I had a lovely childhood, I played with my barbies in the garden and rollerbladed down the street, and had a school upbringing completely void of mobile phones and with old rubbish computers up until the age of about 13, when I think the right time to expose kids to this world definitely is. Our kids wont have that. They’ll be on iPads as toddlers, and state of the art iMacs from the day they start school.

Being at Summer in the City reminded me how young most new YouTubers are these days. I can be totally guilty of forgetting a lot of people in blogging and Youtube are not the same age as me because i’ve been doing it for so long i’ve got a bit of Peter Pan syndrome about it all, but the reality is that bloggers and YouTubers now start their online lives from anything from about 13 upwards. And within short spaces of time, they are sometimes catapulted into ‘internet stardom.’ In the same vein as child actors and child musicians, this is the new future we’re seeing for our kids. The problem with this is that it feels like such a normal thing to do, that most kids will aspire to do it, because it seems within reach.

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I click, snap, jot down notes and document my entire life for this blog, my twitter and my instagram. I often forget i’m talking to over 20,000 of you every time I tweet some sort of ramble, and I can see why it’s easy to do. The thing is, as kids we’re learning how to find ourselves, the things we like and the things we don’t. We’re protective, defensive, moody and unresponsive. We don’t want our favourite band to be liked by you aswell, cos you’re lame. We want to be the only ones to be trend setters and set the lead, and this can lead to petulant tweets and brattish videos being uploaded to harsh criticism and somewhat nasty comments. These are the years of our lives that are meant to be sacred, growing up in the privacy of our bedroom with the door locked and MTV on full blast. The reality for me is that teenagers don’t grow up like I did anymore, they don’t hang out in the park or have late night sleepovers gossiping about boys as much as they used to. They can have all that, at the click of a WhatsApp group chat, from the comfort of their bed.

So my question is, as we share more and more of our lives every single day, do we become more social, or simply more anti-social? Will our teenagers be a nation of introverts yet internet extroverts, or will they find their own feet as strongly as we, Generation Y did? We’re viewed by Generation X as being the spoiled, technology advanced young, but the reality is that after Generation X has gone, we will be the last Generation remaining that knew life before the internet. I can actually sit down in front of my grandkids and will be able to tell them I myself am older than the invention of the World Wide Web. Sometimes I feel like I should share everything to get likes, followers and more interaction on my blog and both my social channels, but more than recently i’ve actually been holding back on a lot of personal moments, to keep the photos for myself. I might snap photos of George and I at home just lounging about, or just enjoying our lives away from social media, and have to constantly reiterate to George that the photos are just for memory sake, to remind me of how we were when we were younger, when we’re older.

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I would never for a minute be that person to tell you to stop social media, infact I really hate all that. I hate going to a bar where you have to hand over your phone, and the idea of an unplugged wedding does not appeal to me in the slightest, but I totally get it. I see it from both ways, if you want to tweet, be social and share your life – why the hell not? You have all the tools at your disposal. But at the same time, I see why these kinds of unplugged events and gatherings are so important not only for our mind but our wellbeing. I don’t think it’s healthy to be on the internet all the time, and our new culture of extreme internet fame is not healthy for our teenagers either. They need to learn that Zoella is a normal girl just like us, but she’s not there to be hounded at her front door, to be scrutinised on her every move, or to be screamed at in person. She has every right to live her life in privacy, as do a lot of celebrities behind closed doors. Just because the latest internet celebrity has come from sharing their world with you, doesn’t mean you have an AAA to their life, and I do genuinely think a lot about how this will continue in the future. I’ve already seen internet rehabs advertised, where you check in for a week or two, and are completely stripped of any sort of internet interaction. I wonder if this will become more of a problem for our youngsters than drugs or alcohol addiction.

We are after all, a new world online. We live our lives online. After this post i’m going to go back to my normal blogging of sharing my life and the things I do, and to me that’s the most normal yet abnormal thing ever. I think a lot about our world and the things in it, and I think sometimes, it’s good to take a step back evaluate where we are. If anything, for our minds sake we need to open our eyes to the world we are growing into, to try and keep as much of it sacred for the next generation as possible.

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  • I agree with a lot of your points, what also concerns me is when you start sharing your life so young (i mean, we did – I think we're a similar age) but at 13/14 it was livejournal and you could have it friends only – which most of us did! Same with MySpace… but with blogging and youtube now, it's never friends only, it's all public. I am so SO fucking glad that at 12/13 my shit is deleted or hidden (obviously you cannot hide anything off the internet /screen shots etc), but I think growing up is something that is nice to do away from the internet, you change so much as a person from early teens to early twenties, a HUGE amount – in a way it's nice to share that but also in a way it's probably better to not.. I am glad i do not have youtube videos of myself from that age, or long rant-y blog posts from age 13. I guess they're funny, but sometimes this is moments of your life you'd rather forget, or keep to yourself at how you were and who you became..

    I don't know. I think about it a lot too, and I am so glad our generation was social in real life a lot more. I would hate to think my children just spent all their time socializing online and not in person, it's just NOT the same.

    Hannah x

    http://www.raisinheart.com

  • Loved this. I love the internet, social media and the interactive community with which it brings, but sometimes it makes me feel uncomfortable. It feels so normal now to live in this connected, over sharing world.

    Beth // SANS SOUCI

  • I can relate to this post SO so much. I was born in 1982 and I spent both my childhood and young adulthood mostly technology-free. I didn't get a cell phone until I started college and, even then, I didn't really want one. My parents actually had to force me to get one because they wanted to make sure they were able to keep in touch with me at all times. I didn't understand what the big deal was because pay phones were still literally everywhere! If I needed to make a phone call all I needed was a pay phone and a quarter!

    I didn't start using the internet until high school and even then, it was still in its infancy. It was SO slow and there wasn't much to search through. Social media was nonexistant and there was no Youtube or blogs I could look at. Growing up, I spent most of my leisure time reading books and playing outside.

    I weep for my nephews who already know how to use an iPad. To me, that;s just not normal.

  • I couldn't agree with this more. I dread the moment when I have young children and they beg for an iPad or the next new technology that's swept the world by that point. When I was a child, and right through to the age of 13 I spent my time either playing with toys, reading or being outside with my friends. When I first discovered the internet, it was to play an online horse game I'd read about in Pony magazine. I didn't go near social media until Myspace when I was 15/16 and after that I think I've become addicted to connecting with people over the web. It's something that admittedly I've grown used to, but I still make sure my Facebook is set to private, as my Myspace was.

    I want my children to ask for toys for Christmas, to be fascinated by discovering nature, reading books and playing sport – not spending their time learning how to use tablets, apps and connecting with their friends over the internet.

    http://www.lucyjlove.blogspot.com

  • I don't think I disagreed with a single point you made here, and it is quite scary that this is something we have to be worrying about. The internet can be great for supplying us with a wide amount of information, and to be honest I have no idea what I'd do with my time if I wasn't making youtube videos and blog posts! But at the same time I would hate to have the responsibility involved with such huge popularity as (to use the same example as you) Zoella, or any of her group. It blows my mind to see how many screaming fans they have, and they are just ordinary people living their lives, but they happen to do it online. I really wouldn't enjoy the invasion of privacy and to have people demanding information – just because you choose to share some of your life with your viewers doesn't mean you should have to share all of it.
    I'm sure I could say a whole lot more, but this was a great and thoughtful blog post that definitely got me thinking!

  • This is such a great post, made me think about the internet and how much of the world is posted online. The world is quickly becoming more technology and internet dependent and it's scary. I think the internet does make us more antisocial as even though we are talking to people online we are not out meeting new people. As the X generation would say experiencing the outdoors and being out with friends all of the time. It's scary that I couldn't imagine my life without the internet, it would be weird not posting on instagram and twitter. As you said we post every memory and some intimate moments, this is instead of capturing the picture for our eyes only.

    I find it weird to think how the internet is going to sculpt the future and how our generations children will be with the internet and being online.

    I love the internet though and I think it creates so many wonderful opportunities. I have met some of the loveliest people online that I now call my friends.

    GREAT POST!
    x

  • I personally don't pay any attention to the news and I certainly don't go looking for details and that in itself shields me from unwanted bad news and sad feelings. Its a lot of work to not be anxious and depressed, I don't need to pay attention to the news which seems hell bent on giving everyone anxiety and triggering depression.

    I am also Generation X, but I am only 35 and I am part of the blogging/youtube scene. I am unmarried and won't have kids, tattooed and multicoloured hair, Peter Pan syndrome at its best, it does kind of frustrate me that all the attention is going to the teenagers and early 20's people but then I feel like they also have more energy to make videos that are captivating, whereas I don't feel I have that anymore.

    Again, I'm only 35 and I feel like I'm past it in this youth obsessed world. To answer your question tho, the world will evolve as it evolves and Im sure humans have been asking if its a good or a bad thing ever since the dawn of time only because our evolution is always new to us.

    I also believe that people born today are already born with a greater capacity to cope in our highly technological world, something we weren't born with.

    I do miss the days of no cellphones, social media, blogs and hand held technology, I feel like life made more sense when I was a kid and wasn't so stressful but the world has changed and its changing in more epic ways than the majority are even aware of and I think we just need to move with the times.

    ps: please consider installing Disqus comments system or adding the Name/URL function to your comments section! 🙂

  • What a great read! I can totally see where you're coming from with what you have said here. As amazing as technology is and how it can create so many amazing opportunities, we do have to take a step back sometimes and remember to put our phones/laptops down and enjoy real life! I totally agree about the next generation of children too..I didn't have a phone until I was around 11, and this is not and will not be the case in the future and is such a shame!

    500daysoffashion.blogspot.com
    x

  • This really rang home to me. I recently deactivated my Facebook for 10 months and it was a dream, I didn't miss it one bit and only got it back because a friend of my mine moved abroad. Since getting it back, the whole essence of sharing things online has started to freak me out a little.

    I hate that we have no rights on the internet and no control about what is uploaded by other people about us. It also scares me how naive kids are nowadays, and are thoughtlessly posting things online that could later affect serious things like employment etc.

    Having said this, I wrote a piece for my company's blog about how social media and smart technology can actually help a lot of people in ways we have not thought about before; http://www.someoneinlondon.com/blog/mobile-mix

    Really interesting read, thank you! x

    joughbloggs.blogspot.co.uk

  • I totally agree with you. A point that I personally feel you didn't broach (not a criticism, all experiences are different!) is the pressure it can actually put on you. I'm 16, when I was 14, I started up an Instagram account posting pictures of pretty things. All of a sudden I had 15,000 followers and the stress of upkeeping it made me really unhappy, so I deleted it. That's quite an extreme version of events I know, but in some respects I still have this now. I feel worried that my Facebook profile looks bare compared to others if there's not loads of public interactions with my friends. I worry that no one will read my blog.
    But on the flip side, at the age of 16 I've shared my music with thousands of people. I've written for newspapers and magazines, made friends, blogged for Bank of Ireland, been to amazing events and had great opportunities, all through my little blog. None of that would have happened for me without a life online.
    It's all so new and a bit scary, I think it's just a case of knowing when to switch off and step away. For me, nothing intensifies an intimate moment than being totally away from the internet.
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, it's lovely to see a blogger I respect talking about more than clothes and makeup!

    http://www.zoewithumlauts.com

  • Wow.. Loved this post and everything in it is so true! I have worried before about bringing children into this world that I don't want being introduced to a computer at nursery and will they even be taught to write properly and have meaningful English lessons or will it be that all work at school is done on a computer and simply emailed to the teacher? It does scare me a little but I also think that will I be viewed as parent 'stuck in the past' and am unfair to my children if I say I don't want them to do these things as everyone else will be?
    I totally agree with the teenage years thing, I remember not having a mobile phone or computer at home where if a friend rang you on the phone your parents could easily listen in! Where you arranged what time you were meeting before you said goodbye at school and just hoped that everything would work out! It does worry me in ways and at times I do feel that technology may be moving 'too fast' and it does scare me a little to think of what else they may come up with in the future. I think as a rule, Technology and it's amazing ways have helped the world in ways we never could and would've thought of, it helps to connect businesses and people even find love online! I'm not saying that it is either a good or abd thing but there are points on both sides and I definitely agree that it will be strange trying to tell my children about when it didn't exist and the difference in thinking within 3 generations is crazy. Fantastic post and really got my mind whirring! x

  • you are right the world has changed. the access to internet has changed our lives. instantly sharing stuff over the internet is the norm, and there are no boundaries to it. they are positive sides and negative sides to it. i guess we will wait to see what they are all about.

  • Sadly, all I'm seeing lately is an attempt at censorship – Russia monitoring bloggers with over 3000 views daily, a French blogger sued and found guilty of spoiling a restaurants renomee with a post, countries living without Twitter and facebook, total control over search engines and what not in China… Where the heck are we going?! We were supposed to be evolve in a freer world, but alas, we're far away from that dream only a century after the evolution process begun. And governments' control over the "free" i-net media is going to grow stronger, darn it. I don't want to be unplugged – I want people to have the freedom to choose what to read annd see. This is an atrocity in terms of human rights! We are free, for now, but for how long?

  • Such a great post! I can believe how young some you tubers are these days and it worrys me sometimes that people could be spiteful or horrible to them, at the same time, however, its great to see people passionate about something and looking to express their ideas! I do worry how much we rely on the internet and computers though! xx

  • PREACH!!!

    Well said lady. I totally agree with you. I find lately that I've been consumed by all things social that sometimes I forget to be social where it counts the most….LIFE. I think we all need a healthy balance between time we spend online and offline. It's almost laughable when you see people out and about and their heads are bend down staring into their phone or whatever tech that's consuming them. So unaware or probably very aware and just don't care, by the natural beauty around them.

    I do miss the day where people go out for lunch and have a conversation, without the phones on the table. How about when people actually write each other instead of sending a quick email. Things have certainly change but it's up to us how much of it changes us. I my goal is to unplug more. i don't really share that much online anyway and even though I'm starting a blog, I think I will keep precious moments,
    precious. Not every thing needs to shared.

    GREAT POST. It gives everyone something to think about.

  • After reading this I had a massive debate with my mum about this – my 11 year old sister has just got a samsung galaxy for secondary school and the girl I babysit can use an iphone so easily, and I feel like my sister has missed out on certain things like handstands and seeing the world.
    It's hard because we all are advancing the world but each generation feels the next is missing out on things they appreciated.
    I 100% agree with everything you said, I just hope I can create a balance for my children
    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Fashion Lifestyle + Photography – http://www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk

  • Everything you've written makes a lot of sense. I had a great childhood where I had no idea what a mobile or laptop was and now I'm always on them and it's taken me a while to get the internet/real life balance just right and to realise that I can have a great time without having to share it all on my blog or instagram.

    I definitely agree teenagers are missing out on so much, I work in a shopping centre and I see so many just standing around in groups on their phones for hours and that's their entire day gone. I really hope that by the time I have children I can find the right balance for them too.

    RosalieJayne

  • Growing up in the 90's was an absolute treasure and something I wouldn't change for the world. I feel a bit sad that era will never be repeated. I see children glued to mobile phones from the tender age of just 5. I believe it does leave then desensitised to the world around them.
    Reinventing Neesha

  • I agree with what has been said even just being unplugged and taking a walk is a breath of fresh air not being connected to the internet. It just shows that too much of anything isn't really good and there are so many social media networks to join. All of it is a bit much and to keep up with it all is a full time job. Its best to find it a balance so life won't just past us all by on our phones and computers.

    PrestineiAm

  • It's really scary how anti-social yet attention-seeking our generation is becoming. It's strange that we will share our lives with thousands of strangers we've never met or even seen, but we're terrified to talk to somebody we don't know in real life.

    I'm not going to lie, I'm addicted to my computer but I tend to forget about my phone when I'm at home. Cutting back on computer time is something I have to do but for some reason real life doesn't cut it for me at the moment because nobody is participating in their lives nor the lives of others, myself included.

    I'm not really sure what we can do about it… but I'm scared.

    Erin // beingerin.com

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