This is a teen-written article from our friends at Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization that helps marginalized youth develop their full potential through reading and writing.
By Jorge Cruz
When I was a kid back in Ecuador, I used to be addicted to the Internet. I’d spend thousands of hours sitting like a zombie in front of a computer, just watching videos of funny squirrels, or cats.
I used to observe my sister, who is six years older than me, spend time on Myspace and Hotmail. I felt really curious because she seemed happy when she was sitting at the computer.
But I also saw my friends and sister having problems online, with bullying and gossip. My sister used to have problems with her boyfriend because of social networks; both would get jealous when they talked to other people. My friends used to fight about dumb topics like which were the best football teams.
One of my friends was even involved in a relationship with a girl from another country, whom he had met through the Internet and never seen in person. He was in love with this girl. I told him many times that an Internet relationship was not real because they would never meet each other.
I have found that people who are always in front of computers are often likely to be shy in person. I’ve had friends who are really expressive when they write online, but face-to-face they’re afraid to speak up. That used to happen to me sometimes, but I thought about it and decided to change. I think it’s important to face other people and speak up for yourself.
I’m a Flintstone
I was also frustrated because of groups like hipsters, emo, and headbangers that were on these social networks. In real life, some of them were really nice people. But I didn’t like the way some of these people would proclaim all day on the social networks that they were different, but weren’t doing anything to actually achieve it.
When I was 15, I stopped going on social networks because I really felt tired of all the people in there, and the lack of sincerity. It could be because I’m a Flintstone and I do not get it (I wish I could be a Jetson), or maybe I’m just not a social person. But I didn’t want to be like everyone I saw on social media, promoting themselves as original when they just copied what everyone else was doing online.
Instead of spending time on social networks, I got into something new:
MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). At the time I was into it; I used to play Metin2, Ragnarok, World of Warcraft, Tibia, Habbo, Warcraft III, Runescape, and many more. What I enjoyed most about these games was the interaction with other people and the teamwork the games required. It felt like a more authentic way to connect to people online.
Reprinted with permission from Youth Communication.