Everybody Wants to Rule The World

We live in a time where social status on the Internet is everything. Our generation (or rather, I should say ‘this’ generation) is one of instant gratification.

It seems that no one truly understands the ramifications or the responsibilities of such a power. As one who has become hooked to social media in the past six months as a means of promoting Shattered Illusions, I have found things that are equally amusing and gravely alarming. Everyone has an opinion, and with the power of the wide open field called the Internet, there is an endless amount of space to rule your domain. To quote Tears for Fears: ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World.’ With the forceful power of Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Tumblr, you can now do just that. Go ahead, rule the world.

Click, click, click.  The world knows everything there is to know. Everything you wish to share is available for you. It’s fun at first. There’s no harm in instant entertainment, instant success. You gain a following, and your ego swells a little. Hey, people actually like hearing what I have to say. Click, click, click. The Internet is like…well, it’s like soup. There are two kinds of soup: The rich, divine soup that you spent hours putting together, or the kind that’s instant. Two minutes in hot water and you have “soup.”  If you’re not in the mood for slaving away over a pot all day to create a rich, creamy chowder, just use the kind that comes out of a box. Zip, bam, boom. The food’s ready, you’re satisfied, end of story. But, after a while, the instant stuff becomes boring. It lacks the flavor, love and care of a hearty home cooked meal. (As I write this, I have a pot of country veggie chowder simmering on the stove top. Bliss is hard earned and only moments away from pleasing my eager tongue). So to with the Internet. The instant joy of a follower (or two…or a hundred) is marvelous, but how long can it last?

Soon enough, you find that people are not as easily entertained with silly antics as they were when you first began your climb up the social later. In order to keep them happy, you have to find ways to keep up with their pace. What does your audience want? They want race, they want action. Give them what they want! After all, ruling your domain may be as easy as hitting a few buttons, but just as quickly as your audiences rises, it will fall, unless you can keep up. You’ll get noticed for your squeaky clean image for a while, but after that, everything will fade away. Negative attention is the key. Isn’t that, after all what made the Kardashian’s famous? Do something racy, for crying out loud!

The Internet is not like Vegas. What happens here, stays here. Forever. You can erase your viewing history, clean up your tracks, but the image of your screw up will forever be ingrained in the minds and hearts of those you tried so hard to entertain. Your reputation will alter, and it is very likely that people will cease to look at you with an image of respect.  But who cares about respect when you have fame, even 15 seconds of it?

Where is the line drawn on satisfaction? At what point will you pull yourself away from it all and say “I’ve had enough. I’m going to walk away before I do something stupid.” Chances are that most of you (myself included) won’t. The follies of the Internet are deceiving and easy to fall prey to.
With the touch of a button, your status as a person is made, and your reputation can either be built up or broken. Just like that.

After teaching a powerful lesson about responsibilities and reputation to my fifth grade students this past week, I found myself thinking more and more about the powerful tool of the Internet and how it can either work for or against us. It was actually something said to be by one of my co-teachers that made the lesson I had just taught to my students all the more clear. My co, a recent high school graduate, was sharing with me a story that outlined the normal, every day occurrences of today’s high school seniors. I was dumbfounded by stories. I will not go into the details here, but the point is that our need for instant gratification has reached a level of absurdity. Perhaps my naive state of mind shocks you all, but I could hardly believe my ears. Nothing in life is that simple. I hate to be cliche, but it’s true. For every action, their is a reaction. Every stone you drop in a lake will ripple, whether you choose to notice it or follow up on your actions is your choice. But, don’t expect anyone to be there for you to pick up the pieces of your mistakes when things fall to the ground.

You have the power to do whatever you choose. The world is at your fingertips (literally). For the sake of yourself and those around you, choose your actions carefully. Last week, Janell Hoffman’s 18 point list of what not to do with an IPhone went viral (I know, using the world ‘viral’ in 2013 makes it a cliche. It was voted one of the worst words of 2012. Ouch). Hoffman had given her thirteen year old son an IPhone, with a long list explaining exactly what he could and could not do with his new ‘toy.” If anything, her list of rules indicated that there are people in this world who still give a flying flip about responsibility and the risks of a ruined reputation in a society that is focused on an instant hit list. Here are some of my favorites from the list:

7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.

13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO — fear of missing out.

Feel free to rule the world, but do so carefully, or you might end up with your head on a chopping block.