27 September 2021

The Internet – our stage

Author: Marina Mugoša, Sociologist

The Internet, our stage today, our podium, our round table, our cinema, our trip around the world… Yes, everything that seemed so far from us, everything that we considered unattainable, now is here on the screen, a screen that we can put into our pocket and with it, we can be in one place and make no stop, but still experience so many things.

Is that a freedom? Have we thus we freed ourselves from the effort to experience life with senses other than the sense of sight and hearing?

Freedom has changed its state according to the moment of civilisation in which it was understood, and for today it is the most logical thing to consider it through the Internet. It has become our world, a virtual world, and it is the most dominant part of our lives in the time of pandemic. And precisely at that moment when we were locked and the physical distance was necessary for saving collective health, the Internet was our freedom.

We have free access to information, we can know everything we want, we are free to express our views on all possible topics, we can publish everything and still save our identity, free to find ourselves in the company of those we will possibly never meet, free, but are we really?

Information that is available to the most of population, passes through certain filters, is regulated by the authorities in each country, to those where social media is prohibited.  How are we free to express our opinion, by typing our quick reaction on the keyboard and we do not even know are competent to judge certain topics, so that after we do not have any responsibility, we lock our screens and forget what we wrote and to whom? The responsibility finds us only in cases of attacking politicians who are in power at the moment. The Internet has given us the freedom of speech in that case, but where is its perseverance to fight against injustice? No, we have experienced forums and comments as a scene where we clash our opinions, we often insult and we do not watch each other in the eyes, we fight poorly for truth and justice in our homes and workplaces. Yes, the truth set us free from fear, but also from confidence.

When we are talking about confidence, do social media with photos of people and their lives, make our confidence grow and free different lifestyles or do it uniform and make certain tendencies of physical appearance and forms of behaviour?

Recently passed law in Norway prohibits posting filtered and processed photos without a clear label, but did it abolish the freedom of influencers to portray their false expression to young people, or did it set free young people to be satisfied with who they are? Yes, it gave them the freedom not to think that flawless physical appearance is always possible for everyone, to be satisfied with who they are, it set them free from a false notion of life, and for influencers, there is always the freedom to edit their photos and enjoy themselves.

Unfortunately, today we are witnessing that the Internet is depriving people of their freedom and they are accused of some kind of the least inappropriate behaviour and then crimes. They are accused because there is an assumption that they are perpetrators, but there are also institutions that present evidence and give a judgment. In our area, we have recently witnessed scandalous accusations on the Internet by the media, giving the public the right to be both prosecutors and judges. We dare, we react to the first news, we do not take it into consideration, we do not take into account the relevance of those who published that news. It seems to us at that moment that we are free to break out the one on the wallpaper, but slowly, it makes us responsible to think about the consequences of our behaviour, whether we are really in a position to pass judgment. We are witnessing that in many cases the authorities have failed, but still let them be free to correct their mistakes, to enforce the law, if the unprofessional public intervenes, we will relativise all forms of inappropriate behavior in society.

We should be free consumers of information, but we should not take the freedom from the institutions and competent authorities.

When we leave online space and if we still need sun and air, we will go out, we will meet face to face and it will be nice to look at each other and not walk with our heads bowed and with our courage in our fingers and pockets.

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