With any kind of great shift in technology there are always cynics who would rather dig their heels in than ride with the cool cats of the ‘technoratti’, and it is easy to see why; the negative prospects of a growth are endless if one chooses to dwell. There is a significant silver lining to this grey cloud of bad stuff, however- a tangible chunk of hope glittering away, restoring our faith in humanity click by click.
Take the case of the 16-year-old from Oxfordshire who made a full recovery after attempting suicide, because an online friend from the US alerted authorities of his intentions.
Online friendships are a somewhat murky and even slightly taboo area of discussion.
On the one hand the stories of Peadophilia, grooming, stalking, beg the question ‘has the world gone mad?’. But just as we begin to lose our faith in humankind, a story like this warms the cyber-heart somewhat.
When weighing up the pro’s and con’s of our online affairs it is easier to see the con’s, but the for many being able to hide behind their laptop brings a much needed relief from whatever stigma’s or self consciousness they experience in the real world.
If we are hundreds of miles away from someone, the chances are we are much more likely to confide in them things that we would be otherwise too embarrassed/scared to reveal face to face with a friend. Maybe it wouldn’t even be too bold to say that we use social networking to fight off loneliness. It may sound slightly 14-year-old-emo-esque, but I’d be the first to hold my hands up and say that when I’m chasing a deadline at 4am the pop of Facebook chat is undeniably comforting.
Although the example I used above is sad in it’s content, it is hopeful in it’s message; that online relationships don’t have to all possess sinister undertones. They can be a means of communication with something other than Wikipedia and Google, that can keep us sane while we work/browse/procrastinate, and even, sometimes, make a difference in our lives.