The internet affects the way we connect to each other. It isn’t a new idea, really, for however new the internet itself is, but in a nutshell, the information revolution provides us with so much information – via ads, news, shows, websites, etc – at any given time, so quickly that we are always processing this information. This changes everything: our priorities, how we spend our time, how much we know, how many people we know. It changes, more importantly, how we feel.
While the kids these days are exploiting social media within an inch of its life, tweeting every single thought, instagramming every single pretty view they come across, we “young adults” are a bit more reserved with it. Maybe it’s because we were “big kids” when Facebook and MySpace came along, despite not remembering much of the time before social media came into our lives. We still cling on to the idea that negative emotions are taboo, that we should never show them. We should never get angry in public, never cry about heartbreak in public. So our Twitter is filled with snide comments, subtweets, and sarcastic self-derogatory jokes and our Facebook status updates are limited to just updates on life successes. We paste a veneer over everything we do. We update, but we don’t seem to feel.
We shun Tumblr for being very much focused on obsessions, providing you with thousands of pictures of your favorite celebrity daily. Those of us who do give in to it (guilty) hide it, embarrassed that we’re part of such an obsessive community. It’s a guilty pleasure platform at its most earnest. We shun blogs because despite being able to relate to them, we see these individuals as the ones with the balls enough to bare their soul in public — how strange of them. We avoid them. So when I came across Thought Catalog for the first time, it was all sorts of new and shiny but welcoming and familiar at the same time. There were articles on topics that are uncomfortable but relatable. This was and wasn’t an individual sharing his or her thoughts; this was a community of people who are in no way similar but bound together by feelings. Because when it comes down to it — sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, excitement, they’re not exceptional feelings. We’ve all felt each one at one time or another, exactly the same way.
We are not kids, despite what we feel and what people older than us tell us, and no website is ever going to change a lifetime of being raised a particular way, or thinking a particular way. No single website can remove the taboo that is associated with “irrational” feelings. But maybe, if we realize that these feelings are not irrational, and that we’re not isolated in feeling them, we can begin to work through them. It’s not that we relate to each and every story we read, but maybe we see ourselves in some of the sentences. Maybe there are glimpses there. Maybe that jumpstart is all we need.
We are going to wake up tomorrow and go to our 9-to-5 jobs, or our classes, or our part-time gigs. We will still smile through our frustrations and laugh through our sadness. But the difference is that, thanks to these little pockets of the internet and these people who each share their own stories in their own ways, we understand the value of these emotions. We don’t have to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. Instead, we learn to accept it, and deal with it, maybe fix it. Unlike before, there is no longer any guilt for feeling sad, because it’s okay. Because now you know, from your peers, that there are people who have felt this sad, and this angry, and this frustrated, too, and they survive. So will you. Because, after all, you’re not alone. And you never have been.