Are we using or abusing the internet?

Ava Weinreb, Director of Business, Instagram Captain, Human Resources Captain, Editor of People-page

It’s inescapable; the internet is now intertwined into every aspect of our lives, whether we are willing to accept that or not. It’s used in almost every community as a tool for growth and research: doctors for new medicines, professors for creative outlets and politicians for outreach. But there are select groups who chose to use all the internet has to offer and manipulate information and abuse that great amount of power that the resource provides us. Both the use and abuse of the internet can be observed everyday on wide and small scales, exploring which type of use the human race favors is key in understanding how future generations must refine the use and immense powers of the internet.

Given today’s political climate, the use of the internet as an outlet for political and economic outrage is becoming more and more common. Groups that were once shunned from society now have Instagrams and Twitters where they can reach millions of users, allowing them to expand and grow their audience. The Klu Klux Klan, a popular hate group in the 1960’s, now has a wide social media presence, in which they take to large platforms such as Twitter to spread their ideologies as well as endorse current political issues.

In August of 2017, many white nationalist rallies began to emerge along the Southeastern states of the United States. Rallies held in North Carolina and South Carolina as well as Virginia began to turn deadly, leaving dozens injured and several dead (The New York Times). Because of the heated social debates, many took to social media platforms to chip in on the issue and express their opinions. Billions of Instagram posts, tweets and Facebook posts flooded the internet for weeks on end stemming from users worldwide, including the KKK.

The former Grand Wizard of the KKK, David Duke, took to Twitter to express his opinions on the newly explosive topic. Duke continues to express his endorsements of President Donald Trump, who favored the supremacy groups. It can now be argued from both sides: was the use of Twitter to endorse the hate speech given by the supremacist groups an abuse of the worldwide outlet or rather the use of free speech to express an opinion?

Although we commonly see hate being spread throughout all platforms, there are also hidden gems found within the immensity of the world wide web that oftentimes restore humanity’s faith in the uses of the internet. The use of websites like GoFundMe, a website which can be used to raise money for smaller underfunded groups, as well as other apps that link together the world at large.

According the the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of social media users claim that they use social media to stay connected in current and previous relationships. In large cities, like San Francisco, social media is being used to connect the homeless with their families in attempts to rehabilitate the homeless community. The use of social media as a means of communication among the homeless is proven a strong one; according to NPR around 90 percent of the outreaches made are positively received and effective in finding help for the individual. While it is obvious there is good in humanity found planted within the internet, does that excuse the abusive devices of which the internet enables?

Junior Emma Guglielmo elaborates her thoughts on the situation saying, “No, definitely not. I believe that it is used as any other platform. While I have not lived without the internet, I know that to every situation there is a good and a bad side to it and there is no other way around that.”

With such great access to the internet now as teenagers, high school students are able to see and experience both sides of the internet, and for most this exposure is inescapable especially with the implementation of devices into school curriculum. As the internet continues to develop and evolve to fit the needs of society, both the good and evil found within it will grow, but as a community the decision must be made of which type of influence we want to cultivate and harvest.