Imagine a world where you’re no longer defined by the country you come from. Your age, your skin colour, your religion, your gender – it doesn’t matter. A world where you can be who you want to be. A world where you can greet your friend who is 9,999 miles away “good morning” and talk like he was sitting right next to you. Everything you want to see or hear about is at your fingertips. And you can express freely to the world how you feel, what you think or what you had for lunch today.
Many years ago, someone imagined that world. Today, we call it the internet.
When I first had a taste of this new world, I was in awe. It took a password and roughly a minute of an annoying dialing tone and I was in. A world without boundaries. I could continue my gossips with my classmates, befriend strangers, obtain information for my homework, and catch up with the rest of the world. I was online. And it was cool.
Because the internet was so new to us, my family often tread on the internet waters with much caution. Even signing up for a new email (Hotmail was the in-thing then) was no monkey business. But the moment I had an account, I felt like I was a grownup.
I was 12 then.
Soon, the internet became everybody’s playground. So much so that people began to think they own a part of it. People with social media accounts, blogs, websites – they feel entitled to a degree of privacy. They post their entire lives online – photos of themselves, what they ate, what they wore, who they felt like killing that day – it was kiss-and-tell in its full glory.
But when some people stumble upon their little corner of the world wide web, they freak out. I know that many young people especially, who would rather die than let their parents add them to their social media network or worse – read their blogs. It’s an irony because not too long ago, the internet was supposed to be a means of bringing people together.
I know, because I was once that kid. I created a blog (a rather un-cleverly masked one), posted all that teen angst, forgot about it as I grew older, just to be found out by my mom. It was quite bad. But it taught me a really big lesson. No one is exclusive on the internet.
Nowadays my phone calls and Whatsapp messages with my mom far outweighs the frequency of blog posts I have here. My brother and I try to get mom as updated in technology just so it would make it more convenient for her to get in touch with us – sure, some days we get a little grouchy and grumpy after a long day, but in the end, we’re just really thankful that mom is always ready to learn and embark on something new. After all, mom was the first person who introduced us to the world of computers and internet – we’re merely returning the favour now that she’s retired. Dad, on the other hand, needs a little persuasion that not all mobile phones are evil. That’s okay, we still love him as much. An old-fashioned phone call to our house phone still does the trick.
I don’t update as much anymore due to the lack of time and inspiration. It is important to me that every post I produce holds some value and provides insight to my readers. And not about how many sit ups I did at the gym or a photo of my face because I’m afraid I may forget how I look like. Because my personal life should remain, personal.
Recently we all know about a particular Malaysian blogger who managed to collect photos and information of young girls and posted them online. Thanks to the pro activeness of the online community, that person was caught and the website has since been taken down. Yet, some are dissatisfied that apart from a torn reputation, he got away unpunished.
But honestly, what did they expect? He did not secretly take photos of those girls. Those girls took photos of themselves and posted it online freely for the world to see. He and his twisted mind merely put them all on one single site. He could’ve sourced for photos of butterflies and no one would’ve made a fuss. Sure, that guy probably requires some psychological attention, but then again, who is to blame?
People like this forget the very basis of the internet or the world wide web that has made it so magical even as of today: it has always been and still is free to the public. Copyright issues do exist – but the world cannot un-see what it has seen. So in this case, prevention is definitely better than cure.
Therefore, before you post something online, think: Is there a SINGLE person in this world that you don’t want them to see what you’re about to post?
If there is, even if it’s your mom, or a stranger that could pick up and misuse your content – don’t. It’s easier said than done, especially in this age where everyone just yearns for that bit of recognition and acknowledgment of their recent “selfie” – but always keep this in mind – the internet has no boundaries.
So stop trying to build a virtual closet that will never exist.
Just don’t exhibit your skeletons all over your lawn.