|"I can haz selfie?"|
Each day I pass two houses beside one another. The first contains a large window exposing a living room; no curtains, just glass. The lavish furniture and décor; showing the owners are of wealth - with their massive fuck off television, leather sofa, and other items you wouldn’t win on the Generation Game, are there for all to see, and I assume, admire. The first time I passed this house, I took a curious glance inside, hardly stopped to think, then never looked within again; why did I need to? Everything had already been exposed, and big fuck off televisions were never that appealing to me, anyway.
The second house is a different story. These curtains remain permanently closed. No matter how many times I pass, the sight of light never penetrates the mysteries of what lies beneath its brooding veil. Whenever I am close to passing, I often hope a small portion of curtain has jarred to the side; just so I can catch a glimpse, of what exactly lies within that alluring room. But it never happens. Room one is a jigsaw puzzle already completed in the box, leaving nothing to my imagination. Room two, on the other hand, intrigues me. It is dark, interesting, and – much like the anticipated mixture of excitement and anxiety created in an average Hitchcock movie, makes me want to knows what is coming next.
You may ask what closed curtains have to do with an article about the Internet? Well, these rooms are meant as metaphors for different generational attitudes towards how we use the tool. Let me explain…
Virtually anyone born before the late 1980’s, is able to remember a childhood without the Internet. They experienced pre-school, play-school, high-school, and the awkward angst-ridden phase of teenager to adult, inside a world where self-esteem was derived outside of a computer or Smartphone; schoolwork, sports victories, learning a craft – practically anything non-web based, being their poison. For anyone currently older than twenty-five, (there will always be exceptions, on both sides) the web is seen as a useful extra, to an already developed psychological mainframe; rendering the tool more productive luxury, than absolute necessity.
For anyone younger, their view of the Internet couldn’t be any more different. They shall never know of a world where the internet didn’t exist. The copy-and-paste generation have grown up as reliant on the internet as a tool of outward perception, as a child-star of the 80’s was reliant on media and magazines to have people accept them. From day one, they have been exposed to all the world has to offer; the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. In turn, they have come to see exposure of the self as a kind of standard for living. The original self-esteem found in outer world compliments, has been shifted to the far more dangerous notion of Facebook 'likes', re-tweets, and attaining followers like they are Tazos. Trying to find gratification in an unreal world, is as mentally damaging as it gets.
In many ways, these poor kids have suffered in being the world’s first ‘children of the internet’. And as everyone tries harder than the last person to attain the attention they found so readily in childhood - much like a child star of the 1980's, the level of exposure needed to do so, grows evermore absurd. A hundred daily updates, Intsagram photos involving everything from having a wank, to sleeping, and carefully crafted images to show a life awash in desirable light - it almost feels as if they will do anything to get those 'likes'; like a whore seeking a heroin fix. This goes some way to explain the dramatic rise in steroid abuse, every variation of tattoo going, and those stupid lip injections that make women look like fish – and ten years older. In many ways they haven’t just opened their curtains, as much as rip them apart, smash the windows out from their frames, bend over, open their legs, and invite everyone in for a mass orgy.
Fortunately, the upside to this ridiculous pressure placed upon them, will swing 180 degrees over the next two decades. Once this generation matures through time and experience, they – unlike anyone older, will carry a firmer, more direct understanding of how to control the psychologically damaging aspects of the Internet. What I am saying, is that it is only once the children of the internet finally become its first true fathers - in terms of its wider-reaching effects; born within its unique constructs, will they be able to seize the initial beginnings of social control over the web; and yes, this includes suffocating trolls too. Until time allows them this power however, we are kinda stuck with these wankers.
In reality, the second room may contain little more than a table and a broken VHS player; quite dull, in comparison to other thoughts. But to me it doesn’t matter. I like the idea of mystery, of having to draw my own lines between dots which could lead anywhere. Just because the internet has afforded us the power to expose every last little detail about our very personal private lives, it doesn’t mean we have an obligation to do so. And to derive psychological validation from global online exposure, almost feels as if it may become a defining point of the children of the Internet's youth, to prostitute their souls. Either way, eventually, it will get better. I still carry faith in those breast exposing, attention seeking, shameless bastards. They are still young...