Glendale College's Student Magazine
Tuesday October 24th 2017

Opinion: Are you controlling the internet, or is the internet controlling you?

The internet fits us like a hand in a glove, two peas in a pod, yin and yang, cookies and milk. It’s a perfect match. But how perfect is it, really? We are too controlled by the internet, through our phones, computers, tablets or other devices. It’s always there for us, no matter what (with a stable Wi-Fi connection of course.) But it’s almost like a job, we feel like we constantly have to check if people are online and sharing what they’re doing as they’re doing it.

Are we missing the chance to double-tap a photo on Instagram? Retweet a selfie? “Like” someone’s depressing Facebook status? Or abuse the latest Snapchat filters?

If you’re going somewhere, you pick up your phone. If you’re bored, you pick up your phone. It’s like opening the refrigerator, but closing it because you didn’t find anything good. A few minutes later you go back and open the fridge in hopes that something has happened. You know nothing could have possibly changed, but you still need to take that extra look.

The percentage of social media usage is just going up for every year that goes by. In 2015, 90 percent of people between ages 18 and 29 use social media, according to a research by Pew Research Center. The usage by ages 30-49 isn’t far behind, they are at 77 percent, and it’s only growing.

How many times have you heard someone say that they’re going to quit smoking or start their diet the following Monday? Many, many times. Why shouldn’t internet addiction be a third thing following these two? Because we all have that one friend that say they’re going to quit Facebook for a week or more, but then we see them a few hours later, posting pictures.

There’s a few social media apps that people use for special things:

Facebook and the gym:
If you’re at the gym, you have to check in on Facebook. If you don’t check in or take a picture with the hashtag #Beach2016, will it still count? Will your calories still count? Were you even at the gym?

Instagram and food:
If you’re out at a restaurant or even cooking at home, you don’t let anyone touch the food until you get a good shot of it. Now it’s time for a couple of filters and don’t forget the hashtags: #Food #FoodPorn #TagsForLike #Love. Almost every hashtag you can come up with that will help you get more “likes.” Instagram is also an app where you look at something on your friends Instagram, but moments later you end up at your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s mother’s cousin’s dog’s Instagram.

Twitter and feelings:
The only place where you get excited when people follow you. This is usually where things get personal and there is no one to stop you from expressing yourself in 140 characters or less (even if you’ve already posted about it on your other social media sites.) And try to use the trending hashtags to make more people see what you wrote, and if it was good enough they’ll retweet it.

Snapchat and stories:
The app that started out with double-chinned selfies for our closest friends and cute selfies for our crush, now has endless possibilities … literally. Since Snapchat launched its new update with filters and stories, things are getting a little crazy. Users can puke rainbows, transform into different animals and have alien faces. The two most popular filters are the dog filter and the face-swap. And now when you look at your friend’s stories since the update, you will think that your friend Anna is in school, at a concert, eating Chinese food and went to Sweden all in one day.

And nowadays you can connect all your social media sites with each other. So if someone is eating something really good, you’ll see it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and if you’re lucky enough, you could also get a snap or two.

Of course. Thanks to the internet, life is also much simpler in so many ways and even though it disconnect us, it can also be the other way around. There’s a few apps, programs and sites that help us with that.

Skype:
Thanks to Skype, you can sit on one side of the world and talk to your friends and family who’s on the other side. All you need is a device and a Wi-Fi connection.

LinkedIn:
They have, during their 14 years, helped so many people to get a job. You write your information about yourself and if you’re lucky someone will get in touch with you. A new survey done by Pew Research Center show that 79 percent of Americans used online resources or information to help them get a job.

Dating apps:
We use apps to help us connect to other people. Especially people between the ages of 18-24. In only two years, the usage of online dating has almost tripled and it’s up at 27 percent, according to Pew Research Center. Tinder is a very popular dating app.

News:
How you get your news have changed from newspapers and radio to social media, 62 percent of Americans get their news from social media, according to Pew Research Center. They show that Reddit, Facebook and Twitter is the top three sites where users most likely get their news.

Ten people between the ages 17-61 were asked “If you forgot your phone, would you turn around just to get it?” All of them said that they would go back.

“It depends if I’m going by train/bus or in my own car,” said Jessica Schildt. “If I was on my way to school, I would probably jump of the train and take the next. Because you can’t do anything without your phone,” she said. Morgan Fernestam answered the same question and said, “I would turn around and get it if I had not driven more than half an hour.”

The app that was most popular was Facebook. “It’s easy to keep track on what’s happening and it keeps you updated on your friends and family,” said Fernestam. “I’m in so many groups where I get a lot of information, and also Facebook is for everyone, most people have it,” said Mia. Another app people use to keep track on the world is Twitter, Stephanie Ramirez said that if anything is happening, it will be trending on Twitter. ”I always check what’s trending before I do anything else. I like to see what’s going on in the world,” Ramirez said. Snapchat was also an app people liked. Kortney Dexter said that she use Snapchat the most because her friends send her snaps and mostly text her through the app.

Call it what you want, but internet addiction is one of the biggest drugs out there. And it’s growing on not just teenagers, but older people too. When apps and sites are easier to use, more people from different ages will join in.

We rather connect to our apps than to the real world. There’s both good and bad things about the internet. It can help us connect with people from all over the world, but it can also make us disconnect with the people that’s sitting next to you. We have no idea how the internet and social media will look like in five years. The only thing we can do is wait and see.

About Tina Fernestam
Tina Fernestam was born and raised in Sweden, but she wanted to get out of her comfort zone so she moved to the United States in 2015. She is majoring in journalism. In her free time she loves taking pictures, watching sports and spending too much money on concerts.

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