Sunday, June 7, 2015

So the internet like really matters for real and often for good

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

Have you seen Pitch Perfect 2 yet? It brings back all of your favorite characters, and adds some new and hilarious faces. In the movie, most of the group is set to graduate. Becca takes on an internship with a label headed by Keegan-Michael Key. Fat Amy (or Patricia), somehow, delivers even more ridiculous lines, and embarks on a new journey of self-discovery. Chloe’s whole life is the Bellas, and competing is her only focus, but the group has lost its “voice.” On top of all this, the Bellas need to win at the “Worlds” a capella competition to remain instated on campus; they’re up against impossible odds. Most Americans aren’t German movie buffs, but there's this German actor that looks so familiar?

In Pitch Perfect 2, Flula Borg stars as the right-hand man in the Bella’s rival a capella group, Das Sound Machine.  The real-life DJ's YouTube channel has garnered about 62 million views. He composed the themes for both of his fellow YouTubers’ shows, the Not Too Deep podcast and the Grace Helbig Show on E! Network.

The internet can be a great place. Facebook or Twitter friends can sometimes be more understanding and accepting than friends you talk to and physically interact with on a near daily basis. The web provides the world a gathering place to share ideas . . .  and sometimes even overshare.
The social benefits of the internet probably only escape those born before 1965.

The internet, as a means of communication, began with what is called packet switching in the mid- to late 1960s. In packet switching, a larger network of computers connect to each other. The first network was called ARPANET. Initially, the internet was a resource to be used by the military. It would be much harder to destabilize this new technology--it was secure and expansive.

Currently, about 50 years after its inception, the internet serves a new but hardly surprising purpose: it helps launch its users’ careers, for better or worse. The musician who immediately comes to mind is a bad example (editor’s note: you may not be hip enough to know that the author means Justin Bieber). So much for redeeming himself with that Comedy Central Roast. Despite the misstep, YouTube dazzles daily by introducing talent the world would be a little bit worse without.

The other internet sensation, at least in my mind—who is a much better example--is Bo Burnham. Did you know that Bo is the youngest comedian to ever perform a Comedy Central special?

Charice Pempengco is another entertainer, discovered via YouTube, who has subsequently risen to fame. Though she entered several singing competitions in the Philippines, it was not until a Swedish record label released her demo that her career really took off. Ellen, Glee, four studio albums, and several TV and movie appearances later, Pempengco is still flourishing.

But entertainment isn’t the only industry getting the big internet assist.

With the increasing popularity of websites like Linked In and, companies and organizations more easily find untapped potential. The advent of new mediums transform how older, more established mediums function. They transform to self-preserve.

Along those lines, many TV shows employ the twitter hashtag to generate discussion and further interest in their show. Shows even extend across all media platforms, and offer fans a fuller experience. Social media further promotes these other mediums. Most news sites, for example, operate a Twitter, a Facebook, a blog, and an Instagram. Companies search for content creators while also looking for social media managers.

The internet also leads to more unpleasant outcomes. The prevalence of cyber-bullying has led to suicide, fearful victims, and other less-than-ideal consequences.

Recently, and very visibly, Anita Sarkeesian "dared" to upload YouTube videos questioning what she
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz
perceives as sexism in the sacred industry of video games. And since then, Sarkeesian continually receives threats of rape, death threats, and other forms of blatant harassment online.

Very recently, Caitlyn Jenner revealed her true self. As Jon Stewart noted, the media has dealt with the topic surprisingly graciously, even if coverage is focused on her appearance. Drake Bell, of the well-known Nickelodeon show, does not respect her new identity.

The web can also be a cesspool showcasing the worst of humanity, but this medium is here to stay. The best way to deal with it is just to adapt. Familiarizing yourself with media literacy may be a helpful first step. Analyzing media to determine how it should fit into your life is a useful skill. Just like "in real life" you deal with jerks, although hopefully not anonymous jerks. Fight back when you can. Show that your love for humanity is stronger than hate based on ignorance and apathy.

It is exciting to anticipate what further good could come from the internet, especially if enough people learn to use it responsibly.


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