I wonder if the invention of the internet was a good thing.
At least, is it good for the younger generation, exposed and vulnerable to the world around them?
Of course the web has facilitated technological advancements, learning, discovery, entertainment and much more, but could this be too powerful for those who are inundated with it at a young age?
Now it is through reflection that I am pondering this, not by some outdated, anti-technology, tin-foil hat ideology.
Recently I began spending more of my time during the day watching videos, and sleeping later and later into the night, staying up to absorb all kinds of media and information. Youtubers, singers, pranksters, celebrities, news, economics, sports, global crises, environmental issues, conservation, psychology, humanitarian crises, and music are just to name some.
But it wasn’t the content itself that was the problem, it was the emotions and reactions that resulted.
By having such boundless access to every corner and crevice in the discovered world, my brain was able to consume an endless stream of information.
Watching my favourite personalities on youtube made me laugh and fill up with admiration, but more importantly it drove me to search for more videos so I could continue living in their exciting, colourful, fun-filled world.
Videos about rivers becoming landfills, toxic sludge spilling out onto coral reefs, red alert health risks in China, plastic outnumbering sea life, political subterfuge, presidency elections, terrorist threats and attacks, domestic violence stories, prevailing racial discrimination, the gender wage gap, homeless living conditions, rape and masculine culture, war and violence, and world hunger and poverty compose the most minute portion of media covering global issues, but each and every one attacks my moral conscience and fills me with a strong sense of injustice and defiance, compelling me to find solutions.
When I see stories about inventors creating costless saline lanterns, doctors with new bandages that stem major tissue wounds, entrepreneurs, charities, philanthropists and governments fighting to amend problems in society, the economy, and environment, I feel a deep sense of respect, pride, happiness, empathy, awe and a light tingling sensation along my back which is more powerful and inspiring than anything else in the world.
With a torrent of different feelings, emotions, thoughts and ideas, I feel myself freeze up in my chair and continue to click on new videos, prevented from closing my browser by my moral-righteousness and curiosity.
“Sensory Overload” – Artist “Dehydrating”
But this had all been fine, I was able to live my life without too much distraction from the internet for a long time, until today.
Today I learnt of the death of Christina Grimmie, shot dead by a homicidal man, assumed to be a fan, right after her concert.
Her passing, at age 22, came as a shock to many, but for me, I was completely stunned.
I had first heard of Christina Grimmie around five years ago, and had chanced upon one of her songs on her channel.
Like many young youtubers beginning their career her videos were recorded in her small, cosy bedroom with a slightly muffled microphone and low quality camera.
Youtube was definitely a very intimate and sincere beginnings for aspiring pop singers, so I was surprised but hopeful when I saw that she had auditioned for the Voice.
Coming third in the competition, she soon gained recognition for her bright and bold voice, and I was overjoyed to see someone I watched on youtube and felt a personal attachment to, bring her talents into the great world of mainstream music.
And just as she began gaining traction in the world, performing at venues, acquiring a larger and larger fan base, writing new music and spreading her songs throughout the world, this young, modest singer was killed.
Her career was ended. Her life was taken away from her.
The young girl sitting in front of her camera in her small, cosy bedroom would have never guessed that five years later, she would die.
The horrible injustice of her passing shook me greatly.
How could a youtuber, someone in this perfect image of life, who created their own lives, showcased their incredible talents, and whom millions of fans come back day after day to see their videos, just be gone? How could a bright, bubbly personality just fizzle away? How could her voice, so strong and so brave, be silenced? By a nutty, homicidal idiot? These questions remained in my mind and in my conscience without me asking them.
I couldn’t and I still can’t believe how someone like that could just be gone so quickly, wiped out of existence.
It made me feel confused, worried and tore at my sense of reality.
It’s hard for me to enjoy anything or learn anything with a cloud of her death over my mind.
I feel like I have to put my life on pause, and wait for this moment to pass. But ignoring it is a violation of my ethics, to simply brush under the rug the loss of a beautiful person.
Maybe it is dangerous to have so much knowledge at the tip of our fingers, at the touch of our hands. Perhaps the internet is too powerful for our empathetic minds.
R.I.P. Christina Grimmie, I hope you keep making music in the afterlife or post-existence you are in. You’ll be sorely missed. You were gone too soon.
Update: Rip all 53 Orlando shooting victims and I feel so devastated for the 56 other injured men and for their families. Let this kind of madness never happen again. This is all too tragic…