What Happened to the Sense of Community on the Internet?


Socialization is not the same as it was back in the 90’s or early 2000’s–that’s obvious. Back then, kids wandered the neighborhoods and towns together; now, concerns over safety keep kids close to their parent’s. Going out every night was a lot more common as it now as well, since friends, relatives and significant others are always reachable with a simple text or social media message.

But perhaps the biggest change came from the Internet. As the Internet grew in availability and compatibility, more people started depending on it for more than their jobs. As time progressed, the Internet became a second home to many around the globe, and now we’re here: a world where the Internet is not just a second home, it is our home.

     Sure, we participate in activities that don’t require the Internet, and yea, we go outside to a friend’s place, the store and vice versa, but the Internet remains at our fingertips at all times. Social media platforms cement the home analogy, with some users making a living off their social media platform!The Internet isn’t just our home, it’s the world’s home. Everything is done on the Internet nowadays: group plans, job applications and many jobs, and perhaps the biggest out of them all, socialization.

     However, some argue socialization on the Internet is at an all time low. Their basis? The Internet has become fragmented due to the many social media outlets that exist, fragmenting users across different platforms. But is this true? If so, is it for the better?

Evaluating the Community

There’s no arguing the lack of unification on the Internet. Granted, the early days of the Internet aren’t remembered for their strong, unifying userbase, but it was definitely stronger than it is today, and social media only plays a small part in that.

     Social media is great, but it brings some downsides, mostly what I call “pedestal syndrome”, where one or more people put others up on a pedestal. Pedestal syndrome runs rampant on social media, and it’s because of how users portray themselves on social media, only posting the good in their lives, never sharing the downtrodden moments. Other users–especially younger users–are susceptible to feeling bad about their lives when comparing them to the user in question, and this in itself hurts the community.

     But as I said, social media only plays a small role in the feeling of a fragmented community; the real problem is a lack of trust on the Internet.

     There aren’t many things we trust on the Internet. Come on, we can’t even trust Google to keep our information secure, and they basically run the Internet! I even use a VPN for Amazon Prime content because I can’t bring myself to trust the site.

The community has become untrusting, and it’s not difficult to see why. News outlets, governments and corporations use the Internet to spread false truths. Also, not everyone is trustworthy, and there is no shortage of people who’d scam you on the Internet. for a Ritz cracker.

Is it For the Better?

     Of course not! The early Internet didn’t have a 100% unified community, but it was much more unified than it is today. And while we can blame social media, it’s the fault of scams and falsehoods littering the Internet; All in all, it’s a security issue.

     The security of information and the security of your wellbeing on the Internet. However, these security issues are the type that can only be solved through changes in society. This generation is the first one that grew up with constant access to the Internet, and surely some change will come out of that, due to this generation knowing the harm that can be done with the Internet. All in all, the sense of community has dimmed, but it’s not lost.