This isn’t really an anime related post, but I wanted to write about this topic anyway. It’s my blog, after all. I’ll do what I want with it.
Warning: Incoherent ramblings ahead.
I think that one of the biggest issues with the internet is positive reinforcement. The internet is widely available, and many young, impressionable individuals are finding a place on this big, scary network. Of course the issue I’m bringing up isn’t exclusive to young people, but I think that’s where it’s going to cause the most problems long-term. I think it’s about time I get to the point, so I’ll stop yabbering on. Basically, when someone has a problem there’s a place on the internet full of people with the same problem , and they’ll be telling you that it’s perfectly fine to have that problem. You’re not alone in your messed up, possibly sociopathic, ways!
Perhaps and example will make my point a little clearer. I’ll use an identity that I fucking despise; the nice guy. Say I’m a guy in his early-to-mid teens at high school. There’s a girl I like, so I try to be as nice as possible to her and anyone else when she’s around. I’m going to be earning loads of points! When I finally think I’ve collected enough nice guy points, I’ll go cash them in by asking the girl out. Surely I deserve her, after all my hard work! Oh, I got rejected. But why? I’m nice, therefore she should like me! I deserve something for being nice! Well, time to go on the internet and tell people about my awful day.
This is where the small problem becomes a bigger one. The internet is full of these people who expect some sort of reward for being nice, it literally attracts them (newsflash, being nice and expecting something in return isn’t actually being nice; it’s pretty much the opposite). These like-minded people will reassure you that there’s nothing wrong with you, you were perfectly right to expect things for being nice, and that the girl who rejected you is just a bitch and only likes dick heads. You can probably tell that I dislike these kinds of people, so I’ll stop ranting about that particular example and go back to a more general approach. Back to my point, the internet will always have a community that will positively reinforce your shitty behaviour and tell you that you’re right. I think it can be quite a serious problem because this can really have some serious effects on someone. In these situations, everyone is telling you that you did nothing wrong. You’re probably going to believe that, and continue along being a sociopath.
Where am I going with this… I’m really starting to ramble on. Hmm. Well, I’m not saying that these issues are exclusive to the internet. You could quite possibly end up with a group of people doing the same thing in real life. Heck, you can even turn to fiction to do this. These characters run from their problems, so it’s fine for me to do that too! Do you know why Hideaki Anno included the hospital scene with Shinji and Asuka in The End of Evangelion? Because people were self-inserting. They’d completely missed the point of Shinji’s character, and Anno wanted to ruin that for those people.
However, on the internet it’s much quicker and easier to find this shit. Especially since most people who have some sort of problem are just looking for similar people to tell them they’re fine. It’s basically just denial. And I don’t think it’s limited to cases such as the nice guy. It’s a way of building walls around yourself for protection. Protection from hurt and pain because it’s okay for you to be whatever the fuck you are! You and I have done it many times (probably). Even little things, like searching for health risks of energy drinks, only to find there’s nothing too bad so I can continue drinking them guilt-free. Of course they’re not good for you, but by doing that I’ve allowed myself to carry on. I lie to myself about much worse things, but I’ll spare you the details.
A Youtuber I like has covered a similar topic a couple of times, though he focuses specifically on tumblr. Please check the videos out below, he covers this topic far better than I can.