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By Kaitlyn Dunagan

It is everywhere. On our phones, our computers, and constantly on our minds. We can share whatever we wish with a click of a button, whether it is our latest opinion on political debates or of an article that spoke to a current life experience. And we have no qualms with sharing it. You would think the publication of our opinions and even our most private thoughts would result in fear but the exact opposite reaction occurs. We end up sharing our deepest thoughts with a world of strangers. The digital world acting as a buffer to the outside world is not a novel idea nor how it can negatively affect the relationship we have with those closest to us. However, the problem with sharing in a world of strangers is that we can become increasingly unaware of the actual impact we have with every word we tweet or every post we share.

Now, the internet is not an all-the-way negative medium through which the world can communicate. That being said, living in a technology-immersed world can make it difficult not to succumb to a couple problems. But even though there are problems the internet can bring, there are also things we can do to resolve these issues. Both the problems and the solutions to these problems are listed below.

Problem #1: You post articles, thoughts, or even photos with little to no consideration for the possible repercussions.

Most people on the internet will either affirm your thoughts or disagree with you but even if a disagreement happens, it is not a huge event that will be covered by the local news station. Posting content without thinking it through and without major repercussions may lead to a strengthened idea of invincibility.

The Remedy: Act as if what you would be posting would be seen by everyone; not only the people who would agree with you but those who may be strongly opposed to your ideas. Evaluate your opinion before posting. Not to cause yourself anxiety but to put into perspective how powerful your contribution to the internet really is.

Problem #2: You begin to share articles just to share them.

Clicking the “Share” button is the easiest part. Getting “likes” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. can be borderline addictive and it makes you feel good to have your ideas affirmed. When it comes down to it, sharing just to share can take away a lot of the meaning your work has or your words have.

The Remedy: As previously stated, always evaluate your opinion before sharing. And more importantly, evaluate why you are sharing. Does exposing your thoughts, photos, or posting that specific article contribute to the betterment of society or (and not to sound harsh here) the betterment of your self-esteem? If it is entirely for your self-esteem, you may want to re-think about reposting it.

Problem #3: You’ve begun to feel less valuable as a human being – or as though you are only worth what you can do/how good you look.

This one is dangerous. There is a little part in each of us that enjoys being validated, no matter how confident we are in our opinions. It is human and it can be helpful. Yet, if you are sharing solely for the validation, then not having your thoughts affirmed by others can negatively impact your self-esteem.

The Remedy: It is important to remember that there are countless ideas floating around in cyberspace. Just because your thoughts are not affirmed by other people does not mean you are not a valuable human being. It does not always mean your thoughts are correct, with or without validation, but it does mean the only person’s acceptance you should be striving for is your own.

Problem #4: You feel detached from reality, foggy, or unfocused in your life.

At times, it is hard to look reality in the face. There are endless amounts of negativity on the internet, even on topics it would be beneficial to care about. Posting news stories that may discount the humanity of a person or even positive ones that discount the reality of a situation can detach us from what is really happening. Thoughtlessly posting encourages apathy instead of action because it feels as if we are doing something to help and at times, we may be, but for the most part we are not if we are simply sitting behind a computer, tablet, or cell phone each time.

The Remedy: Even if you perform just one random act of kindness a day, it is important. Not everyone has the funds or the time to become involved with a non-profit organization or build a company that would help others and that is okay. However, making sure we are just as kind in reality as we are on the internet is achievable and of utmost importance.

Problem #5: You’ve begun to unconsciously idealize others.

Because of our tendency to detach from reality, we are prone to idealizing one another. And not the kind of idealizing where one sees the best in another despite their flaws. This kind of idealization is where we can see people as more than people, as almost perfect or as people living without flaws. They are the smartest, coolest, prettiest or best people we have never met.

The Remedy: Most people do not have the chance to meet the people they admire. But if you can, do it. It will make you realize that they are just as human as you are, you are just as capable as them, and you can still accomplish the same extraordinary things they are doing if you really want to. You may even see that they are nothing like the person they portray over the internet. If you cannot meet a person you admire, the first step is simple. Remind yourself they are not perfect. If you would like to get creative, make yourself do something every day or once every week you have not tried before. Something you find extraordinary, something to make you realize that even though you are imperfect, you too, can accomplish great things.

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