The Internet is Two-Faced
The internet has a million faces (kind of an obvious statement really, but I had to start somewhere… bear with me), but in a more understandable sense, it has two faces.
The first face is the informative, funny, convenient and entertaining face. It’s useful, innovative, practical and an endless source of entertaining content. It allows people to exercise their creative side almost without limitation. It’s also the basis of my day-job funnily enough.
The other face. Ugh, the other face is filled with venom, self-loathing and spite. Fake news, trolling and bullying, the constant stream of “I’m better than you” or “look at me, look at me!” posts on social media.
Have you ever been in a car and had someone behind you (or alongside you), raging and giving you loads of abuse? Nine times out of ten, if you get out of the car to speak to that person, they very quickly lose their nerve and drive away (although I’m not recommending that as a course of action for the record – some of those raging people are genuinely nuts!)
My point is that the internet is very much like the in-car heroes who quickly turn out to be full of hot air and cowardice when confronted. The internet is literally full of shit.
So the question is, how do you enjoy all the internet has to offer but still protect yourself from the hidden traps and ever-evolving pitfalls.
Maintain a Healthy Level of Skepticism
This applies to almost anything you encounter online. When you read or watch something, you should always be asking yourself: why. Why was the content created? Why did someone take the time to create it? Who did they want their audience to be? What was the agenda behind the post.
People don’t do things without a reason – even if the reason isn’t clear at first. It could be a bid for attention & validation – we all need that. It could be for money (and in some cases, be extremely well hidden behind the apparent morals and ethics the creator publicly states.)
It could be that the content was created to stir up a debate, or an argument, which in turn creates more interest and more views. Which translates into more money if there is any advertising present on the content! You’ve heard of “outrage-p0rn”? – it’s like clickbait only worse. It’s written with the intent to cause annoyance in specific section of an audience. You then make absolutely sure that the audience in question sees it – then you wait for their comments/rage to come rolling in. Once you have received the feedback, you then publicize that – and make sure an audience with a differing opinion sees it. Again, you wait for the reaction and then rinse and repeat the process.
The bonus for the content creator is that you get a never-ending stream of views, clicks and comments for your content (all the while the money is rolling in from the advertising campaign)
The problem is that the audience is suffering as a result. This ping-pong game causes outrage and indigence on a mass scale, which is actually bad for your health if you engage in it for too long. Outrage and “justified anger” is addictive, insidious and psychologically damaging for yourself and everyone around you. Taking that anger back into your daily life will impact your partner, your friends, your children – you get the idea.
Know Your Boundaries
If you have strong boundaries they you’re in a much better position overall. You know already when to push things or people away when they cross the line. You’ll (by default) know when to hold something or someone at arm’s length.
There are certain elements of the internet that the vast majority of people will avoid, the truly dark side where things like child exploitation or even murder are recorded and publicized for “entertainment.” But that does not mean that all the “safe” topics are actually safe for your well-being.
For example – personally – I no longer have the BBC news app on my phone. I grew tired of waking up in the morning to be greeted with a never-ending stream of bad news about massacres, famine and war, or the latest set of hypocrisy from politicians.
Ultimately there is no possibility of me having any impact whatsoever on those terrible things happening in the world. I can’t change it, or help matters improve in any meaningful way. But what I can do is protect myself. I can shield myself from the constant stream of negativity so that I can be in a better place for my son. This makes me a better dad, a better friend and a better partner.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still check in every now and then so I’m not completely oblivious, but I have set my boundaries so that I can check-in at a time of my choosing. I won’t be a victim of whatever message or agenda is being pushed out there as and when someone else decides.
Do Your Research
Before you go sharing any old thing you’ve seen or read – if it’s supposed to be factual – you might want to actually check if it has any truth behind it. Just because something has gone viral doesn’t mean it’s actually true.
If it’s a topic you genuinely care about, then before you allow yourself to have an emotional reaction – just spend a few minutes doing a background check. Even if it’s something that has been publicized by the big boys in the news – they’re just as guilty of writing misleading or inaccurate information for the sake of getting more clicks – the only danger there is they have a much bigger audience by default.
If you share something without knowing the source or the agenda behind the topic, you might not be as guilty as the writer – but you’re definitely adding fuel to the fire that they set.
You need to know where you stand on topics you want to engage with. Building an informed opinion is important, but not as important as having a strong sense of self on which to build upon.
In today’s society, “public opinion” is so easily led by the popular opinion. And in case it hadn’t dawned on you yet, “popular” opinion can be bought and sold by the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Google etc. They can pick and choose what message gets air-time and what doesn’t.
Again, just because a message is all over your feed does not make it true. It certainly doesn’t mean that you should adopt that opinion yourself. Don’t be a sheep – know what YOU think before just adopting the most recent agenda being peddled about.
Previously published on Whatsyouroutcome.com.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.