By John Lee
As the generation born in the late-90s, we are accustomed to the constant bickering of our parents who see the Internet as a place where criminals congregate and enact their plans to corrupt the millions of innocent children online with violence, pornography, addiction, and laziness.
However, parents do this with great reason. No matter how obsessed with the internet we may be, we have to realize the dangers of surfing the unrestricted web of things we are not meant to see and people we should not be talking to.
Still, this argument can go both ways. Parents, or any member of the generations prior to the Internet age, often fail to recognize that the internet can be used for great causes: forming supportive communities, raising money for beneficial causes, connecting to friends and families, and creating new friends and families.
One site that comes to mind is Imgur (pronounced “imager”). When lurking through the viral page of this image conglomeration website, one can laugh at a gif of an inflatable cow dancing in a supermarket aisle, cry at the story of Wyatt who stayed positive until his death from cancer, and learn about various complicated theories on the idea of time.
Sometimes, original posters (OP’s) can even reveal something that broke them emotionally or made them burn with guilt, and, much more often than not, fellow Imgurians rise up with support and consolation.
One recent example of this is Imgurian fishbonegeneral’s post last month about not being able to afford Christmas presents for his daughter.
Merely expecting advice on how to make her feel appreciated, this father had a great surprise when he received over 75 packages after his post was made, some gifts even hand-crafted by fellow Imgurians.
Like any site on the Internet, Imgur does sometimes allow inappropriate posts to reach innocent eyes, but as a site that has helped many through tough times, it definitely proves how amazing the Internet could be.
Reddit is a similar site for entertainment, social networking, and news. Redditors can choose from over 5,400 subreddits, which are organized pages dedicated to specific interests.
While Imgur is one giant community, Reddit is a web of many, allowing virtually any user to find a group in which they feel welcome and not alone—from those who take pleasure in “oddly satisfying” things such as perfectly circular pancakes to those who commit “Random Acts of Pizza” for complete strangers.
A definite flaw in this freedom is the ability to create Not-Suitable-For-Work (NSFW) communities. Reddit has developed a notorious reputation for many offensive subreddits, ones that should not be acceptable whether online or off.
This creates an obvious dilemma: one must ask if it’s worth shutting down over 4,000 educational, humorous, and supportive communities due to less than 1,000 NSFW ones.
Ultimately, this debate is more than just a conflict between older and younger generations. It is a question of responsibility.
To put it simply, the Internet is neither a good nor a bad place. It has potential to harm, there’s no question about it; still, it can also nourish.
What pre-Internet cohorts must get into their heads is that, though they were not born in the age of the Internet, they are living in it now.
The best thing to do is accept that truth and ensure that we are using the Internet for the good that it can be.
With all of the conflict happening in the world today, sites like these bring harmony.