How the Internet Is Really Helpful Yet Super Confusing (& Sometimes Dangerous)

Ah, technology, the good ol’ double-edged sword. On one hand, we can read our favorite singer’s Tuesday morning thoughts (thanks, Twitter); on the other, trolls no longer live under bridges (thanks, Twitter). 😉 But, on a serious note, I’d like to discuss how the excess of information online can be educational…but it can also be intimidating and/or misleading.

An over-abundance of search results

Anyone and everyone can use and post things to the big, wide web. And, for that reason, the internet is saturated with information. Some of that is based on facts, science, and statistics, but much of it is based on opinions, subjective experiences, and straight-up BS. [Unfortunately, those in the BS category aren’t required to wear a sign that reads, “Hey, don’t take me seriously; I’m full of it!”]

Shameless plug: While most people use Google for searches, you should try Ecosia because they use their profits to plant trees. ♥

I become defeated quickly when searching things. For instance, I’d like to make homemade potpourri with some aromatic mint leaves. I temporarily gave up because everybody (along with their mamas, their daddies, their brothers and sisters, their cousins…you get the point) recommends a different method. As I type this rough draft Sunday, I’m feeling frustrated that I just spent an hour looking up solutions to hair issues (oily and flat hair, itchy scalp). Again, there are so many search results–all suggesting their own methods for fixing the issues, all recommending different products.

I recently learned not to trust everything these random websites suggest. Because I read Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub last month, I have a heightened, disconcerting awareness of my sugar consumption levels. After noticing there are over fifty grams of sugar + several preservatives in my International Delight coffee creamer, I decided to try making my own. Several websites provided a simple recipe for homemade creamer: combine sweetened-condensed milk with regular milk. I thought, Well, this will contain sugar, but with less sugar than the other creamer and no preservatives, maybe this is a step in the right direction. As it turns out, the taste of sweetened-condensed milk repulses me. Yuck! Talk about trial and ERROR.

What’s even worse than inconvenience–misinformation

Above, I referred to the inconvenience of wading through a flood of search results (like trying to find a cute dress at a ratchet Goodwill). But what’s worse than being inconvenienced is being misinformed. I’ve seen this text image floating around social media, which implies that ignorant people are ignorant by choice, since they could easily look up any question/topic, thanks to the internet.

I acknowledge the point of the post, but I don’t think it accounts for the whole “double-edged sword” concept behind the internet. In other words, this sentiment assumes undeniably blatant truths and answers exist. I’m not so sure. Even where objective truth exists, people will disagree about it, anyways.

Some truths and answers seem clear to many people, but at the end of the day, what/who we perceive as a reliable source affects what we believe. For instance, most people accept that vaccines are good and necessary as “clear truth.” Anti-vaxxers, however, don’t trust the sources that support vaccines. I assume they trust other sources that “clearly” demonstrate why vaccines are harmful. (Not trying to poke a bear, just using a random example)

I hope you see the connections I’m drawing…more info sources on the internet means more choices on who/what to trust…

Misinformation in the pandemic

I can’t be the only one who’s tasted every flavor of Coronavirus opinion or theory. I’m talking everything from “They did this to tank Trump’s economy in his re-election year” to “Far more people actually have the disease than what has been reported” to “Hospitals are claiming more people died of COVID-19 to get extra funding” to “Lifting the stay-at-home orders now will trigger a much-worse second wave.”

I live in NC (in the US), and the question of how to re-open in stages looms over us. We only have a few hundred deaths in the whole state. Part of me thinks Yes, we should re-open; the risk in our state is low. But then, the other half of me wonders, Do we only have a few hundred deaths because of social distancing, and if so, would ending it be detrimental? Many have vilified the stupidity/short-sightedness of those protesting at our capital to re-open the state. I understand the critics’ concerns for public safety; God forbid if someone I know caught this and died! I also saw a meme this week that read, “I lost my home and my business, but at least I didn’t get a virus with a less than 1% mortality rate!” I understand the concerns of those pushing to re-open; will we wind up damaging people’s lives with these rules more than the virus would in its natural course? The fact that so many loud and self-assured voices are screaming their viewpoints on the internet doesn’t help with discerning reality and rationality from panic and outright lies.


Wrapping up my ramblings, I love and hate the internet. It gives every voice a platform, which can be great and also terrible. That’s the price of freedom, baby! Take EVERYTHING with a grain of salt. 😉

Thanks for reading! What’s your two cents on wading through search results, internet misinformation, “clear truth,” or Coronavirus theories? Let me know in the comments.

Random updates on my searches (in other words, advice welcome):

1. I have purchased a few volumizing products that give body to my flat-as-a-pancake hair. Sweet!

2. If you also have an itchy scalp, TRY ARGAN OIL! Started rubbing it on my head after I get out of the shower (if I wash my hair). It’s definitely helping. I was wary of trying it since my hair gets greasy quickly, but it didn’t make my hair greasy somehow??

3. The best homemade creamer my mom and me have concocted so far is almond milk + a few spoonfuls of sugar. Though I’m probably consuming less sugar than I was with the store-bought creamer, I wish I could use little to no sugar in my coffee. But, apparently, things don’t taste as good without sugar…lol!

4. For the potpourri, I plan to mix up the plant leaves, some essential oils, and orris root powder then let it sit for a few weeks. Wish me luck. I hope this is less of a disaster than the sweetened-condensed milk creamer.

26 comments

  1. I think the Golden Age of the internet was probably in the mid to late 90s. Today, the web is this all-conquering beast, of which we are all servants to. Myself very much included.

    There was an innocence about the Internet back then – yes there were still nasty websites, trolls, and everything else. But overall people used it in much more moderation – it was still in its honeymoon period.

    I think it’s a true case of diminishing returns – the more we rely on the Internet, the worse we are all of for it.

    I grew up in the 2000s, so my ‘Golden Age’ of the Internet was probably around 2007/08 – when I used to be excited about going on the Internet and it was a ‘treat”, in a way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed with your points. I saw on your blog you are 24, and I am 26, so we have both seen technology develop and become all-consuming. Ahh, I remember the days when a family shared one computer, and a Motorola flip phone was the coolest gadget. Even from my high school years to now, the rapidity of technology’s advancement–and our completely obsessive reliance on it–has been crazy to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

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        Like

  2. For the sake of my own mental health, I can only take so much of people treating the coronavirus with such carelessness. That’s because I live in the epicenter, New York City, and I know at least 18 people now (it was 16 a couple days ago) who I’m friends with, or are friends of family or friends of friends, who have died from this. One of the things actually motivating me to do the weekly coronavirus updates on my blog is to show others what this virus can be like if it’s not treated seriously enough quickly enough (as was the case in New York City).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t drink coffee, therefore I don’t care about creamer. However, I did make a homemade version once. For the life of me, I cannot remember what was in there. I know there was vanilla extract. And probably condensed milk. Interesting that you don’t like it.

    I agree with your arguments. I often get annoyed with the different recipes people provide for seemingly the same thing. I just choose the simples one with the ingredients I like. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Like

  4. I remember as a kid, there were only 3 or 4 local channels, and hardly any national news that i saw. You didn’t have to ponder every story and try to determine its validity. (True, we may have been fed a line of bull, the JFK assassination for instance, but it was all consistent.) Ah, the good old days. Now, as you say, anybody and everybody can express their opinions, and it is up to you to determine who is telling the truth, the whole truth , and nothing but the truth. So now, i have become a doubter; i don’t believe anything ! However, relying on my own intellect sounds good until it is a topic of which i am not familiar. Sometimes, i miss just researching in the World Book Encyclopedia. Life was simpler then. 🙂

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  5. Insightful post! I never thought about how the internet is a “double edged sword.” On making your own version of drinks, it’s sometimes hard to duplicate due to sugar and salt. Another issue is natural flavors. If this is in the pre-made coffee drink you enjoy, it will be a little more difficult to duplicate depending on what flavor you prefer. Flavors like vanilla are easier to duplicate whereas flavors like Hazelnut are more of a challenge. (I have barista experience) 🙂

    Like

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