Freedom of the Internet Speak

One of the things that gets to me the most in this world is a lack of freedom. 

The internet for me has always been a place you could express your opinions, and not get in trouble for it. I started blogging at the age of 13, in the LiveJournal days. Back then, blogging was literally the same as keeping an online journal.

Now, we have to watch what we say, and we could even get arrested or sued for it. Newsbeat posted about how the UK is “too heavy-handed” with online trolls, and Lord McAlpine is suing several Twitter users for falsely naming him a sex offender.  

I’m no advocate for trolls online (I mean, I wrote a whole post about being nice to each other) but, should people be arrested for things they say on their Twitter accounts or blogs? Shouldn’t we have some degree of freedom to say what we would like? Whether it’s mean or not?

And what other freedom will be taken away from us after our internet use? Our right to say what we want in day to day conversation?

The “Virtual Friend”

With the rise of social networking and the magic of the internet, it seems more and more people have “virtual friends”. 

Last year the Telegraph wrote about how people now have twice as many virtual friends as real friends. That’s a pretty shocking statistic if you ask me, and if I’m honest, I don’t think it’s relevant to everyone. 

Truth is, I have a virtual friend, a guy I’ve been talking to online since I was 13/14 (Hold off on the warning bells for a second). He was 15 at the time, we met on Myspace (yes, THAT long ago) on a Linkin Park fan page. 

We Skyped for the first time today, after emailing and instant messaging back and forth for over five years. It was a pretty monumental moment in my life to be perfectly honest. 

But, when I tell my “real life” friends this, they all look at me like I’ve lost my head.

“You can’t talk to him, he’s a stranger, off the internet”

If I had a pound for every time I got that reaction, I’d be a very rich lady. Not that people aren’t right to worry, but in a society where it’s perfectly acceptable to go to a bar or nightclub and talk to strangers, is the internet really that scary? 

So, sorry Telegraph, but I don’t agree with your statement. I think people are still in the mindset that everyone on the internet is a paedophile in disguise, so they’re not out making virtual friends. 

Then again, I could be wrong. Do you have a virtual friend? If so, tell me about it, I want to know your stories! 

Anti-Doping? Or Just Dopey?

Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned from cycling for life on the count of doping.

Is this harsh punishment? Or is it justified?

The 41-year-old Texan cyclist is most famous for winning Tour de France seven years in a row, after surviving cancer at the age of 25.

Armstrong was diagnosed in February 1996 with stage three testicular cancer that spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. He underwent chemotherapy until late 1996 when he was declared cancer-free. At this stage in his life he had already won two Tour de France stages.

He went on to become a legend in the world of sports, winning seven consecutive Tour de France titles from 1999 onwards.

However, in August this year the USADA removed Armstrong’s titles from 1998 onwards. A lifetime ban was also issued, so Armstrong is no longer allowed to compete in any sport or event under the World Anti-Doping Code. This also led to Armstrong losing all sponsors.

My question to you – Do you agree with the actions of the USADA?

He won the first title 13 years ago, should it be taken away from him now? He is an American hero, he’s an inspiration to so many, he achieved masses after the threat of death. Now because of one slip up, that’s all taken away from him, all of that doesn’t matter?

Just Wait with the Hate.

Why are humans so spiteful? Okay, so not everyone is 100% guilty of this, but the large majority of our species are.

Life would be so much easier if people could learn to be nice. 

After the death of Amanda Todd recently there has been a surge in anti-bullying websites, Facebook pages and forums. I personally have always been an advocate for anti-bullying, especially anti-cyber bullying. There is nothing more cowardly than sending someone abuse over the internet.

One of my all time favourite quotes related to this subject is a little pearl from Scottish author and theologian John Watson;

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

I believe it’s something we should all keep at the forefront of our minds. People are strong yes, but that strength is lost when they are isolated.

In a world where people are losing their sense of community in favour of their sense of self, we need to re-evaluate where we are in terms of morality. We have people thinking it’s perfectly fine, and that it’s human nature to be mean, and that’s just not the case.

So, stand up, speak out. Be nice, be kind, be the best you can be to every person you meet. Imagine that every person you meet is the next Amanda Todd, Raz Atias, or Matthew Montagna.

Welcome to Solent

My name is Melissa Allen. I am a student at Southampton Solent university (Yes, the OTHER university, no, I’m not studying fashion). I have just started working towards a degree in Magazine Journalism and Feature Writing. I have uprooted from a small town in Berkshire called Bracknell, and moved to the reasonably sized city of Southampton. Adjusting to a new city, new flatmates, a new course direction and new classmates is a lot, but I’m pretty good at adapting, so we’ll just see how it goes.