The Influence of The Internet

The internet has become a crucial way to find information and establish an online presence; it is extremely important in our society to stay informed. Algorithms are constantly adapting to determine what to show us online. Our online presence is being searched to create and recommend content just for us. But how does this influence our views and perspectives?
The internet provides many reliable sources, yet there are many sources filled with misinformation deliberately intended to deceive viewers. What you view is likely to be different from the person sitting next to you.
“Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories,” novelist Chimamanda Adichie said. “If we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.”
Someone watching only Fox News likely has very different views than someone only watching CNN.
“The technology that connects us also divides us,” The Social Dilemma organization states.
The Social Dilemma originated as a documentary by Exposure Labs. The documentary featured voices of researchers, activists and technologists working to change technology for the well-being of humanity. The documentary took off and has become an organization focused on spreading awareness about the harmful effects of the internet.
It was my freshman year of high school when the effects of what I put online showed how it would influence what I’d see in the future. I was searching for a pair of white sneakers; I scrolled through different websites, clicking on different options. Just a few hours later, ads started to appear for different white sneakers on my social media accounts. It became abundantly clear that there was a connection between the searches I made and what appeared on my online profiles.
“Technology’s promise to keep us connected has given rise to a host of unintended consequences that are catching up with us,” The Social Dilemma said. “If we can’t address our broken information ecosystem, we’ll never be able to address the challenges that plague humanity.”
So how do we avoid the influences of the internet? What can we do to realign technology with the interests of its users? Whether it’s deleting social media or blocking harmful ads, there are many ways we can detox from the online world. The Social Dilemma recommends the following to take action against the influences of the internet: share the dilemma; start conversations about the harms of the internet; realign your relationship with technology; change how you use the internet to make it a tool for connection; rebuild the system; help bring people together to advocate for a more humane internet.
Everywhere negative experiences are formed due to the polarizing nature the internet has. Famous TikTok teen Charli D’amelio is a great example of what can happen when your online presence grows rapidly in a short time frame. D’amelio became the most followed person on TikTok at age 16, yet massive amounts of hate came with a rapidly growing platform.
D’Amelio talked about her experiences with her close friend Avani Greggs on the Facebook watch show “Here for it.” D’Amelio expressed how her online presence had adverse effects on her mental health.
“Blatantly disrespecting the fact that I’m still a human being is not okay at all,” D’Amelio said.
As creators such as D’Amelio experience the rapid growth of their online platforms, viewers and fans lose sight of the human being left behind the camera. Unless we make real change in our online communities, the internet will continue to influence our views and perspectives. Real harm will be caused to many individuals, especially teens like D’Amelio.
Think about the other side of the story the next time you get online. What side of the story are you seeing? Is what you’re seeing being targeted at your interests? Is the information you’re reading accurate, or have you lost touch with your personal views and perspectives?