The Internet Can Aid Personal Growth Immensely
There are an awful lot of stereotypes directed at the Internet and its users, although to some extent these stereotypes are becoming less prominent. Regardless of the changing opinions of individuals, however, there is still a hard-wired impression that those of us who choose to spend a fair portion of our life online must be socially inadequate, and in some way not equipped to live a “normal life”. It should not be ignored that the people who express this impression most vocally are rarely much of a role model for anyone – and their unfounded prejudices may well suggest that they are quite the opposite. The Internet can, in fact, work excellently as a tool for personal development.
Think about it this way. If you are growing up in a relatively small town with very clearly defined values and preferences, and happen to grow up with a mindset that is at odds with those values and preferences, life can be pretty lonely. Geography in this sense is incredibly limiting. With the advent of the Internet, however, it has become possible for like minded individuals from locations poles apart to form strong bonds of friendship. There are caveats to this process, of course – taking people at face value is inadvisable – but these caveats are no more pronounced than those which arise when interacting with someone who is physically in the same room as you. It is always important to keep an eye out for people who are keen to dissemble and distract.
Online forums are one way of getting to know people who have similar interests. There are so many forums and message boards on the Internet, devoted to such a wide range of interests, that it would be quicker to name the subjects that are not catered to than those that are. Sports, music, politics, whatever interests you there is likely to be a community or two (or a few thousand) devoted to it. On here, you may get the kind of conversation that you simply cannot have with a geographical neighbour. In addition, it is an excellent way to get a bit of debating practice – by speaking to people whose opinions on your subject of interest differ from yours, you can build a greater understanding of matters, something which aids personal growth immensely.
Social networking sites are often viewed very dimly by media commentators and everyday skeptics. There is a certain selective interpretation of the medium in this – for one thing, the media commentators are a little concerned that they will cease to be as relevant, and secondly the most scathing attitudes to social networking are based on a hugely skewed sample. Yes, there are some complete and utter fools on these sites, and when their pronouncements are frozen for posterity online it is hard not to cringe. But some real deep thinkers also use these sites simply because they have so much difficulty finding like-minded people nearby. By using the Internet wisely, you can find people who are really worth talking to. Like anything else, it is a matter of knowing how to separate the good from the bad.
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Simplepersonaldevelopment.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Entrepreneur Journey site. This article originally published on the above website on May 19, 2009.
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