Social media is divisive. Our devices are consuming all of our attention. People are becoming more and more isolated.
All of these things are true. And many people are ready and willing to point fingers at the internet and technology as the root of many of today’s issues. And while I’m not blind to its problems, I also have to be grateful for the internet, because some of the most positive things in my life this year have happened because of it.
Some of my biggest personal accomplishments this year were: planning my wedding, running a half marathon and starting a blog. Each of those accomplishments were successful because of the fact that I can easily access the amazing resource that is the internet. I realize that I am being an optimist here, but I think that in addition to critiquing the internet age, it is worthwhile to appreciate some of the value that it brought to my life this past year.
The internet helped me become smarter
For each of my personal accomplishments, I found incredible resources online. I love books, but the internet gives more perspectives and details than I can find browsing the shelves of my library or local bookstore. I also have found amazing communities online to support the goals that I am working on. In particular, for wedding planning, I found multiple online groups with members who were also planning their wedding. These groups gave me a chance to share ideas, questions, and experiences with people who were as deep into the wedding planning as I was. I learned so much about a topic that I initially found intimidating. Similarly, a year ago I knew absolutely nothing about having an online blog. Today I know a whole lot more, and 90% of my learning came from the internet. It is empowering to know that whatever I want to learn about, I can find the resource somewhere online.
The internet helped me become braver
When taking on big new projects, it is easy to get stalled by not knowing what to do. I love that when I run into a specific issue, I can Google my question and usually find a resource that helps address it. Finding that right resource at a moment of despair – like needing to adjust my running training plan or dealing with a website issue – has made a huge difference in my own journey and ability to take action. By seeing that something is possible, I’m less afraid to take a leap of faith and try something new.
The internet also opened up the door for me to connect with folks that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Sometimes these connections have flowed into conversations that have sparked an idea that has significantly changed my approach to something. Actually connecting with people who are interested in the same activities as me, has helped move an idea from a theoretical concept to something real.
The internet boosted my appreciation for others
Connecting with people online gives me more empathy and understanding of the huge variety of life experiences there are in the world. This especially was notable to me being part of online wedding planning groups. When you rely on mainstream media or your own social circle to learn new things, it can seem like there is only one right way to do something like plan a wedding. Being part of these groups opened my eyes to the wide variety of experiences and options that folks were doing, which gave me confidence to approach my own wedding in a way that supported what fit me and my partner.
I also love that the internet helped me to connect to friends and colleagues from many different phases of my life. It’s so fun to see the window into someone’s life and to see where there are beautiful moments of overlap – like when I realize that people from different phases of my life know each other outside of their relationship to me. It’s a good reminder that everyone is just a person trying to do their best and live a good life. I also had some big life moments this year, where friends near and far shared love and congratulations through social media. This exchange made me appreciate the amazing network of people in my life that I don’t always think about every day.
So thank you, internet, for making these things possible. I may complain about you on a regular basis, but I appreciate what you have brought into my life this year and will do my best to continue to use you for good.