Written by Hanifa Kamal
The Internet – perhaps one of the most powerful tools that mankind has created. It has made humans who have never met before form relationships and bonds over interests and hobbies that can’t be formed in the real world. Generation Z explores how the Internet has made lonely people feel just a little less lonely.
With the Internet being a worldwide phenomenon, you are most likely to find someone online who is into the same things as you. Do you like that niche, indie band? Someone on the Internet loves it too. Do you like writing fanfiction about two characters on a TV show that would never get together in real life? Someone on the Internet does too.
When you’re growing up, in school/uni, and even in the workplace, you are bounded by a random cohort of people. You learn to like what they like, and visa versa. You could be surrounded by 100s of people, and yet still feel lonely. However, the Internet, in particular the New Media and Web 2.0, has allowed lonely people to connect with other lonely people.
With social media having such a large focus on community and encouraging interaction with one another, there is no wonder why a lot of people feel inclined to check their social media frequently. They’re not aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, they’re checking up on their buddy in France.
With the virtual, online world, the possibilities of finding people with similar interests to you are endless. If you watch a show that none of your friends in real life watch, there is a high chance that there is a whole fandom on Tumblr dedicated to that TV show. Tumblr, a microblogging website, allows you to post and reblog posts that you relate to on a personal level.
Whether if you like a certain TV show, a band, or belong to a certain group (gender(s), sexuality, ethnic background, religion etc), there are people who are just like you, and will welcome you with open arms.
That’s the beauty of the Internet and its communities on different platforms – people are usually happy to talk.
Social media has allowed those introverted and anxiety-ridden souls be their true, authentic selves online. Where it may be difficult for those types of people to open up in real life and take time to feel comfortable in front of people, the Internet breaks down that social barrier of awkwardness and getting to know someone, as you would’ve already find common grounds when talking to people online.
Not only does the Internet allow people across the globe to find friendships, it has allowed people to find love and relationships. Online dating is popular now more than ever. The taboo of online dating has dropped significantly due to the increase of usage. Online dating seems appealing as you can get down to the nitty-gritty. You can almost build the perfect significant other with the features of dating sites, such as preferable height, hair, interests, habits etc.
It’s mind boggling to think that you could have so much in common with a “stranger” on the Internet whom you’ve never met in comparison to someone who you have known since school. It’s not strange to find people who have 4 solid friends in real life, and have 10+ online friends who they feel strongly connected to.
If the circumstances are right, some people meet their online friends in real life. They meet up, and see each other in the flesh. They don’t see their peer through a computer screen, but they see them as a real-life, breathing human right in front of them.
The Internet has blessed everyone with the opportunity to connect with other humans on a deeper level. Whether if you find someone who is just merely interested in the same band as you, or find someone who you fall in love with, the Internet has allowed two humans unite and feel a little less lonely. It has allowed lonely people to be lonely, together.