When we think about the Internet, we don’t often think of it as a good place. Online trolls and nasty comments are all too prevalent, as well as dangerous people looking to do some harm. But my experience with some parts of the Internet have been a little different. In fact, in some way the Internet helped save me during the darkest times in my life. Yes, you read that right: the Internet saved me.
My time as a teenager was not the easiest for me. I don’t think they’re easy for anyone. This was a time in my life where I felt like the whole world was against me. I hated high school, I didn’t have many friends, and I felt misunderstood by everybody. Most of all, I just felt like I was too different from everyone else around me, therefore making me an outcast. I isolated myself yet still yearned for close connections with the right people. Eventually I found a few of those people, but still harbored these feelings. Even when I was physically surrounded by others, I still felt alone.
This time in my life also marked an uptick in my depression. Ever since I was a little kid I had suffered from some form of depression and anxiety, but when I became a teenager, they both became exacerbated. For the first time in nearly 10 years I had to start taking medication again and went to see a therapist almost weekly. I found very few things to be happy or excited for, but I kept on because I had no other choice. It was either keep going or die; nothing in between.
Since I had all these unhealthy feelings boiling up inside me, I knew I needed an outlet to express them through. So, I went to the place where every great writer goes to get their thoughts out: blogging. More specifically, I went to Tumblr. I had never thought of myself as one who blogs, but I decided to give it a try. I created an account and got to writing, hoping that at least one person would read what I had to say. The topics I wrote about ranged from God to teenage love: there was nothing that I didn’t have an opinion on. I had all these thoughts and feelings and posting them on Tumblr made me feel like someone was seeing them and that they cared. My blog became a haven for me, and even to this day I still treasure what it did for me during my time of need.
Often when we think about the Internet, our minds go to its more negative aspects. We are constantly bombarded by the bad and rarely get to see the good. Whether it’s news and politics or comments left one videos and articles, we are exposed to unrelenting hatred and sadness that seems to have no end. There have been times where I’ve gone on the Internet to see something that I like and have left feelings depressed by what I found. I wanted to find the positive on the World Wide Web, and thankfully I found some in a place that gave people hope.
Back when I was a teenager, I found a special refuge of a site called GivesMeHope.com. I discovered the site by chance and found that I was instantly gravitated towards the content. The website was a collection of people’s most hopeful and uplifting moments that answered the question: “what gives you hope?” There were thousands upon thousands of different responses from people all over the world, and I tried my best to read as many of them as I could. Whenever I was having a bad day, I would go to the site to cheer myself up. It served as a reminder that not all the world was bad: there was still a lot of good out there too. Even though I didn’t know who these people were, I still felt a bond with them and their stories. We were all on a quest to fight the negativity in our lives. We were searching for the silver linings.
I am not ignorant o the fact that the Internet is not always the best place for us humans. I have done my fair share of wasting too much time watching YouTube videos or scrolling through social media. I’ve seen the hate that people have in their lives reflected through what they do on the web. In all honesty, the Internet can be a scary place, just like the world around us. But like our real world, there is still a silver lining to the Internet. There is goodness to be found and fun to be had. Sometimes we just have to try a little harder to get there.