Hello everyone! It’s been a long long time since I last posted, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and note my thoughts down, but I’m doing this article because it’s just something I’ve noticed recently.

I’m a 90s kid. Basically that one iconic sentence means I was here when we still had dial-up internet connections (that I wasn’t allowed to use because it was reserved for my dad’s office work), before google and wikihow took the world by storm and while Orkut was still the rage of the teenagers.

In retrospect, I was here when the internet was simply a blessing.

Since I don’t live under a rock, although I sometimes wish I would, I have been exposed to the internet in all its glory for roughly 10 years now. And I’ve noticed a worrying trend.

The internet today, is simply a toxic place to be.

I don’t quite know when it changed, but I remember when Facebook was simply a way to stay in touch with your friends after they’d moved out of your vicinity, it was a way to find long-lost friends and share good memories that were collecting dust on a shelf somewhere.

But it seems the heydays have passed us by. Today, people live virtual lives, giving 110% to the internet and neglecting what is often their true selves. Donning a mask has never been easier – handles, usernames, aliases are available at the click of a button – erecting smokescreens in a matter of minutes and giving so much power to those that are not willing to bear the responsibility that comes with it.

In doing the above, perhaps the most integral thing we choose to forget, is that behind that handle, that alias, that username is an actual person.

Hurling insults, calling people out on ridiculous things has become easier. Things that should have gone unsaid on public platforms are shouted on microphones. The internet was supposed to give us a voice, but now we’re all shouting over each other so nobody can be heard.

People often forget that opinions are subjective, and everyone is entitled to one. What people are not entitled to, however, is to invalidate the opinions of others through often brutally harsh comments.

Do I mean to say don’t call out someone who’s doing something horrendous on a public platform? Absolutely not, there are some people that have to be spoken out against. But I do think we get offended much too fast.

In our race to cross boundaries, we have forgotten that those boundaries are as cultural as they are geo-political. What is perfectly acceptable in one culture may be heinously offensive in another. We judge too quickly and often on the basis of our cultural standpoint than that of the other.

We live in the age of the paradoxes.

The world is becoming more and more connected, but we’re all drifting further and further apart.

The biggest thing the internet provided us is anonymity, the biggest thing it took away? Identity.

Because with identity comes responsibilities, there are repercussions to actions that you take and you must face them. How would this apply to faceless men and women, and occasionally even children who have learnt anonymity before they’ve developed an identity.

I worry for future generations when I see the sometimes hateful content I come across on the various social media I browse. I worry for their sanity, their mental health. Because they believe what they lived through is normal.

They are used to getting their way, because it is exceedingly difficult to not find at least one other person that shares your point of view. Harmful comments go unseen, raised up by those who cannot even tell right from wrong anymore because the lines have been so blurred that they have difficulties separating the two.

For anyone that landed on this page and is reading this article, amidst the massive waves of hate and disregard on the internet, I want to remind you of responsibility.

I want to remind you to think before you click that post button, think of the repercussions, own the repercussions and then and only then proceed.

Only if we become conscious of the numerous faces behind the handles and aliases can we truly be human again.

Take back your identities, own them, be who you are. Over and out.

©Sonali Mukherjee