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The Internet Helped Me Get Out Of My Shell And Build A Loving Community

Posted by Arunima Gururani in #NoPlace4Hate, Society
December 27, 2017
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

The internet is pretty weird, if you ask me. There are random dudes like this.

But, I’m not here to talk about any of that today.

The internet, in all its glory, has mostly been very kind to me. And I try my best to send out the kindness I receive into the digital universe, so that maybe, one day, creeps like the one mentioned above, slowly fade away.

I am a writer (or so I would like to call myself). I post a lot of my pieces on the internet and share them with the world. I have been writing since I was 10 years old, but it took me a lot of courage and support to put my work out there – though, I’m not super regular as my contemporaries with my posting. However, since the past two years, I have tried to build a community and be part of a larger community of online writers, specifically on Instagram.

While I’m not entirely sure how good my writing is, sometimes, my words seem to work on my readers.

Some days they tell me how I’ve said something they’re feeling or how my words have worked as an antidote for them. The feeling I get at that time is something I cannot possibly express, because it runs so deep, that words can’t explain how it feels to have connected with someone in such a way, despite the fact that I may know nothing about them or their life at all.

At first, when this started happening, I didn’t realize the depth of it. I thought they were just internet comments. I felt this way until the day, one of my regular readers, who has muscular dystrophy, told me how my writing has helped him stay motivated. I didn’t know how to react.

Then, there is a reader from Brazil who has constantly encouraged me to do what I do, and the time when a student in South Africa wanted to recite a poem I had written. All of this is extremely overwhelming.

Like I said, I used to think they’re just comments on the internet. But soon, I learned that these were real people with real feelings, wanting to tell a complete stranger how something that came out of my own darkness or light, has affected them in a certain way. I don’t think I can ever experience something as beautiful as the connecting of human souls with each other. And this makes me understand how important it is to respect the community that the internet, as a whole, is. It makes me see how all of us can peacefully coexist and help each other.

The thing about online communities, no matter how big or small, is the support system they create. Many pieces that I write, sometimes come from a dark place, or maybe on days when I feel very low. On such days, there have been many times when I have received a heartfelt message from a reader to ‘hang in there’. Or, if I didn’t post for a few days, someone would check in to see if I’m okay.

My community of readers, although not very large, has helped me through certain dark times. Some of their comments and messages have enabled me to get out of my shell and accept myself for who I am. They encouraged me to try spoken word poetry, something that I had been putting off for the past three years because I thought I couldn’t do it, even though I desperately wanted to.

 

And the community isn’t limited to those who admire my work. It also consists of others, whose writings are truly inspiring. It is full of people who I have never met, and probably never will – but writing collaborations and exchange of ideas with them have made these people my friends, no matter what corner of the world they live in.

I understand how this is just the nice side of it. There is the ‘followers game’ involved, but honestly, once you stop playing that game, you start to see how your own work improves and starts to attract the followers you wanted. I believe it’s all about what you put out there. If you put out good vibes, you’ll get them back. You don’t need to maintain an image. You need to be you, because someone on the other side of a screen probably needs to see something positive or empathizing, and maybe sometimes you need to see good things too. So why must we live lies?

The internet is full of trolls, but it’s also full of people who want to make the world a better place. It may disappoint us quite often, but there are times when the internet totally wins too! What we need to do is to keep the candle of kindness burning, even though we may feel it’s not enough to push the darkness away. The internet should not be a place for hate, so instead of putting an extra filter on that selfie, why don’t you put one to your thoughts and spread some love and positivity?

If you want to check out what I do, or just drop by to say ‘hi’ and have a chat, you can find me here