“Dear Grandma, I made my own e-mail account together with mom!”
That’s the first line of the first e-mail I sent from the first e-mail address I ever created, ten years ago. At that time, I was only allowed to use the computer at my grandmother’s place and just for a few hours. I would play Neopets and send my friends silly e-mails. Once I entered middle school, I got my own laptop and started my first Facebook account, played FarmVille and listened to music on YouTube. Slowly but surely, I spent more and more time on social media platforms.
“I’ll call you later” turned into “I’ll send you a message later”, birthday cards turned into Facebook posts and before I knew it, I was part of several group chats on Twitter with people from all over the world. “Look at page 45 of your textbook” became “download the file from the school’s online learning environment” and instead of reading a good book I find myself watching YouTube videos constantly. My friend, majoring in psychology, tells me she is researching the correlation of social media usage and the rise in people suffering from depression. While I, too, feel myself becoming less and less connected with the ‘real’ world, I wonder whether social media is a blessing or a curse.
I met my best friend on Twitter. We had been talking in this international group chat for a while already when we realised we are both Dutch. We are both from Amsterdam. We live only 10 minutes away from each other. Although our paths had crossed several times in our lives, we never met until we ‘met’ on Twitter. I would like to call that a blessing, not a curse.
Studying in Japan for a year also made me realise the importance of social media. I was able to stay in contact with my family and friends while I was 9069km away, and now that I’m back, I am able to stay in touch with my friends over there and in many other countries. And yes, The way social media quickly broadened my horizon brought along problems that others probably also have encountered. The ‘world’ became a much bigger and a much more complex place all of a sudden. Then again, it became smaller too. I am able to talk to people as if they’re next to me, while in reality they are on the other side of the globe.
Last Thursday I came home to my brother saying our house wouldn’t be connected to the internet for 24 hours. I was disappointed in myself when I got irritated because I wan’t able to connect to the ‘world’ from my bedroom. Now that I think about it, it might not have been that feeling of not being able to connect that got me so irritated. Maybe it was the feeling of not being able to enjoy the things that bring me happiness on a daily basis.
Maybe social media is a blessing.