I grew up in an era where there was no Internet and the great opportunities that come with it. Hence, when the Internet came to be, I actually cried with gratitude and was overwhelmed that such a miracle could ever happen in my lifetime.
For decades as a teenager and into mid-adulthood, I was frustrated that access to information and expression of thoughts were controlled by the oligarchic few in society. I did not agree with many of the narratives on many issues that I read in the mainstream media or the speeches and views I heard.
However, I had no avenue to express myself for any views contrary to the mainstream were never entertained for various reasons. Sometimes, my frustration is about the so-called policies but often it’s because the person evaluating one’s views may not have the ability or vision to understand what you have written.
I have known for a long time that the general quality of thinking in any society is limited by the quality of the mainstream thinking. Simply put, if you are intelligent and are born in an intellectually undeveloped society, you will live an accursed life of frustration.
So, when the Internet came and I was able to blog, it was freedom of the soul for me because now I could get off my chest all the things I wanted to say. It is total suffocation causing insomnia when your brain is clogged with thoughts that don’t stop flowing in.
You simply have to unload and hence I was grateful for the therapy of blogging. I blogged not because I needed anyone to read what I wrote but just to unload my thoughts. Of course it helps when someone reads and comments because that becomes another opportunity for me to further “empty” my thoughts.
The Internet interaction among citizens somehow breaks the hold that politicians have over the minds of the people and this is a good thing. In fact, I believe that the Internet revolution has diminished the traditional power of politicians to a large extent. The Internet allows for real time democratic and free discussion of issues among the citizens and hopefully they can make a better collective decision. Hence, it is to be expected that politicians will look for ways to enhance their power through the Internet. The ordinary people, like you and me, therefore have to harness this Internet tool responsibly and effectively to increase society’s collective happiness and welfare.
This is where the miracle of WhatsApp comes in handy. WhatsApp groups solved the problem of time, distance and physical space to meet and discuss or simply to keep in touch. Family groups allow members to keep in touch and share each other’s lives from a distance. Various groups of specific interests can be set up to discuss and sometimes champion certain useful causes or simply to share current issues. It is like having a meeting without the cost of setting up a meeting.
My friends and I have a WhatsApp group called “Rapera” which has the objective of discussing and identifying ways and means of creating a thinking and compassionate society. We hope to be able to identify values that would create such a society and possibly organise programmes to propagate the same objectives. Rapera is a movement which encourages thinking and compassionate citizens.
Despite the ideal potentials of a WhatsApp group, I have learned something – irresponsibility, bigotry, and even stupidity are not exempt on the Internet.
What is offline often appears online and sometimes in a magnified form.
Those who simply forward something without thinking are not only irresponsible but do not care for the other members of the group. What is worse is someone whose entire contribution to the group is only forwarding bad news and the worst things possible.
I have come to accept that some people are talented in only seeing negativity in life.
They are what they share and that is their “reality” that they have created for themselves. As an admin, you can either kick them out of the group or keep them as a constant reminder never to become like them.
The thought that the Internet allows for communication and cross-border interaction is exciting for me because it brings people of different nationalities, ethnicities and beliefs together. I believed and still do that in the long run, these exchanges of ideas, experiences and thoughts cross-border will finally make us admit and accept that we are all human beings with similar fears and hopes.
Only when that happens, will we become citizens of the world and have international objectives and goals rather than national goals. This is my dream anyway as I do not see how else the world can live peacefully together unless there is a global sharing of happiness and sufferings.
Briefly, I am eternally grateful for the miracle of the Internet and I pray that ordinary citizens like us use it to empower ourselves to increase our collective happiness and reduce our collective sufferings.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.