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The Dangers of Internet Opinions

February 5, 2018

We all have those movies that just speak to us. For a good period of time, my ringtone would belt out “Pocket Full of Sunshine” anytime I received a call. (If you get this reference, you gain my approval for sophisticated cinematic taste.) One of my favorite characters in that movie makes a wonderful observation:

 

“I don't know what your generation's fascination is with documenting your every thought... but I can assure you, they're not all diamonds. “’Roman is having an OK day, and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof.’" Who gives a rat's ass?”

 

Thank you Mr. Griffith for pointing out a wonderful point which I will summarize as this: It’s usually best to disregard the collective opinions of the good ‘ol interwebs.

 

Case in point. Recently, an attempt by McDonalds New Zealand to engage the internet was brought to my attention. They allowed the internet to take part in a digital campaign called “Create Your Taste” where participants would build a burger creation, name it, and then submit it to a competition on the public site. And well, I won’t lie — I greatly enjoyed some of the more out-of-left-field creations that this one gave rise to. Among these were some true gems: “The Sad European,” The MakeAmericaGreatAgain,” “The Allah Was a Jew,” and the particularly interesting, “QuarterPoundMyAngus.” There were others of note as well. I mean, who knew you could put a racist slant on a hamburger?

 

I do love that certain unexpected liberties were taken here and I don’t deny that I experienced a particular sense of glee seeing the various concoctions. But, it again brings an important point to the surface. Generally speaking, a lot of what circulates on the internet is garbage and people tend to care a little too much about it.

 

There have been countless studies done on the effect social media and the internet takes on humans, adolescents in particular. These studies generally reveal that there is a higher rate of depression and anxiety among today’s youth, citing cyberbullying and exposure to social media as a large contributing factor. The correlation here is that adolescents are seeing too much on the internet and that it negatively impacts their self-esteem. Whether it’s pictures of a gathering they weren’t invited to or a flippant comment made by a peer, teens are seeing more than they used to (and really, more than they should).

 

Let’s think about this. (I’m an older Millennial so that should offer some insight into my age group.) Bullies have always existed. I saw my fair share of mean kids when I was of school age. The internet doesn’t change that. What the internet does accomplish is the removal of face-to-face interactions. When I was in school, a bully had to muster the guts to approach you directly. And I didn’t know if I was left out of a birthday party because I didn’t see the images splashed all over social media, reminding me of what I was excluded from.

 

 

The internet creates an element of removal from a situation that makes it difficult to see how our actions impact others. The creators of the more racist versions of the “Create Your Taste” burgers may have hesitated if they had been required to present their creations to a crowd of opinionated people. It’s why many people balk at public speaking. Facing your audience takes a level of confidence that we don’t need when we can hide behind a screen.​​

 

While I can appreciate that the anonymity offered by the internet gives some voice to those who would otherwise keep silent, we need to recognize that this is also a vehicle for uninspired negativity at times (although, some of the more outlandish creations produced by the burger contest were definitely of the inspired variety).

 

The moral of the story is this: Before posting every “diamond” that pops into your head, you might recognize that some opinions are best left owned by you. You don’t need the perspective of the internet to weigh in on all of your decisions or how you perceive yourself. Don’t neglect the value of the individual decision-making process. And remember, it’s okay to think before you speak (or write) and wonder how it will affect those around you. You might observe the sage wisdom of Mr. Griffith here and, before posting, ask yourself, “Who gives a rat’s ass?” And just try making that decision on your own.

 

Ashley works in the mystical world of digital marketing. A true lover of the written word, she whiles away her time writing, editing, reading, and helping small businesses with their marketing needs. Believing herself to be a seeker of discomfort, she is always on the lookout for her next adventure. Check her out at contenthusiast.com.

 

Mandi's Two Cents: Actually she said it best ...

 

Olive Penderghast: "Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in 80's movies? I want John Cusack holding a boombox outside my window. I wanna ride off on a lawnmower with Patrick Dempsey. I want Jake from Sixteen Candles waiting outside the church for me. I want Judd Nelson thrusting his fist into the air because he knows he got me. Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life." 

 

But just to be clear I still want John Cusack to come be romantic outside my window. He is dreamy! I sometimes think social media took this type of romance away!

 

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