The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

Week of Mourning: Day 5

During this week of mourning I chose to publish some of my Polish students’ essays in an attempt to spread their light of wisdom and compassion in the current context of commiseration.The essay below was written by Agnieszka Pytel.

Is society today affected by certain flaws or broken relationships?

Nothing and no one today is flaw free. Society today is also affected by some flaws. Nothing is ideal. Every epoch, every time has its own rules and its own defects. There is no such thing like an ideal, harmonious, and fully friendly society.

I think that one of the biggest flaws in society nowadays is the fact that people have moved their lives to the Internet. There are so many social networks helping people to get in touch, to share their life and experiences with others, but only via Internet. As a result, unfortunately, we have less time to spend with our families and friends in real life. We are forced to spend more and more time working and learning new skills. There is no time for lazy evenings with friends, as there is always something to do. I am generalizing a little bit, but I think that this state of spending all our free time on the Internet and not having time for our families is alarming.

When I started studying in Cracow I felt quite lonely in this city. At the beginning I did not have any friends, apart from my friend from high school who was sharing a room in a student flat with me. But she was always busy. Of course I wasn’t angry; I had a lot of things to do too. Once we were sitting in our room in front of our computers and I noticed that she wasn’t learning. I suggested a small talk, but she answered she was very busy and didn’t have time. A few minutes later I saw she was “available” on “Gadu-Gadu” – a very popular instant messenger in Poland. I sent her a few words. I was extremely amazed when she replied and we started chatting… I couldn’t believe it! We were sitting next to each other talking via the Internet. Moreover, she was talking with several people at the same time. She got used to having contact with others in such an unnatural way that she preferred this way of communication to real talk.

Unfortunately people love to keep in touch with each other via the Internet. Maybe the reason is that they have the possibility to recreate themselves in a completely new way. Shy people can pretend to be crazy and very sociable, etc. When I saw some of my friends on a very popular social network, I was wondering – do I know these people? They do not act and behave like people I used to know. And the question is: which personality is the real one? Is it the one I know or the one created over there?

I do not want to act like the biggest opponent of the Internet. Because of that I will write about very interesting article I read a few days ago. The article was about our society. The author, a psychologist, claimed that people were becoming more and more envious. Our generation is more envious than our parents’, and our children’s will be even more envious than ours. The author suggested that the reason is our material or financial situation. In highly developed countries people can afford more and more expensive things and become very successful. In a society in which everybody can achieve more and more and some can’t, the latter become envious. The worst thing about this is that the feeling of envy is inevitable. People cannot get rid of it easily because it is connected with the modern way of life. Of course I do not have to emphasize how destructive envy is in any relationship.

And last but not least: in our times, like never before, people are encouraged to be more selfish. They are convinced that being egotists is normal and even healthy for your psyche. Sometimes it truly is. However, being egoistic is a very bad vice. More and more children are being brought up with the conviction that they deserve everything they want without any effort or any sacrifice from their side and the result of such upbringing can be terrible, as it creates a generation of fully egoistic people.

To sum up, it is impossible to enumerate the main flaws that affect people’s relationships today, as in any other time. We can say that our society is broken but we should also remember that we are “only people,” and there never was a flaw-free society.

O tempora, o mores!

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Filed under: ■ Poland, ■ Week of Mourning 2010, ■ Writing Samples

12 Responses

  1. Imladris says:

    Very interesting essay. The Internet changes our society and the character of interpersonal communication. Community portals and instant messengers are created to help people keep in touch, but users often recreate themselves as other/ better persons. Why is it so? I think that this problem can be better visualised in computer games such as RPG, adventure, action, MMORPG.

    This kind of entertainment gives us the possibility of changing (or concealing) our appearance and/ or “self” (understood as our psychological characteristics, skills, abilities, individual perception). During the play you identify with the game characters; in RPG you can evolve in a chosen way. In a similar way you can also escape into a chosen world.

    The question is: Is the popularity of these games caused by the craving of escaping to the world of your dreams or is it the effect of the disappointment with our society and/ or ourselves?

    What are the changes involved when we take into consideration MMORPG? It integrates your virtual image and your interaction with other people. There are also virtual worlds with almost infinite possibilities of creating your image that are generated for the main reason of interacting with others instead of focusing on a storyline.

    With the progress of changes in our society the virtual means of communication became increasingly popular.
    With the reduction of free time and the increasing number of duties fast communication has become more useful and even a necessity. Virtual entertainment and communication give us the possibility of becoming someone entirely different, and everyone who participates or plays a part in such virtual theatres should analyse the reasons why he or she acts in a certain way.

  2. theoneandonly says:

    Hi,
    I think you were right saying that more and more Internet users are moving their life to the cyber-reality. Quite a lot of them prefer the fake, cyber-reality to the “real” one, I think. Like you said, they can recreate themselves into a kind of person they can never be. That’s why portals like “Second Life” or games like MMORPG, which my previous speaker mentioned, have become more and more popular.
    You should watch “Surrogates.” The director of this movie had a great idea. I think he wanted to show how today’s cyber-reality can evolve and what tomorrow can look like. Very frightening.
    Hope I wouldn’t wake up someday as a bunch of pixels.
    Cheers :*

    • Alina Alens says:

      Welcome to ELB, theoneandonly!

      Interesting points! I agree with you that the cyber-reality can be frightening. It has already alienated many minds. However, there are many advantages in the use of, say, Internet platforms, for the ones who still keep their feet on real ground.

      Thanks for the recommendation & opinions!

  3. Tomek B says:

    I agree that people spend too much time on the Internet, but it also helps to keep in touch with people who you have met before and are abroad right now.
    You should also consider that people who are usually very shy do not keep in touch with people and the anonymity of the Internet helps them to overcome their shyness.

    • Aga P. says:

      Of course you are right stating that Internet helps very shy people to overcome their problems, but – in my opinion – it is only a temporary solution; they become less shy in relations ‘via Internet’, unfortunately in real life usually they are as shy as they were before.

    • Mariusz says:

      I know a few people who are outgoing and sociable on the Internet, but quite shy and reserved in reality. I try to convince them to go out and speak in person. Unfortunately, they often refuse, because they prefer to use the computer screen and the keyboard instead of real conversation connected with a walk in the park. I think it is quite sad…

    • Szymon H. says:

      But isn’t this a wrong way? Maybe my friends are untypical, but I can’t recall anyone (ok, maybe one) who keeps in touch with people not known to him in reality. So, what’s the reason to recreate oneself?

      • Alina Alens says:

        Note: by “untypical” you mean “atypical” (unconventional, not ordinary, odd, etc)

        As to your question, I, for one, know many people who are creating 2, 3 or more “selves” or “avatars” for themselves.
        I believe that the Internet today facilitates this identity creation a great deal.

      • Szymon H. says:

        Yes, but what’s the advantage of having one or more virtual identities? It’s even impossible to develop relationships using one’s “better Me”. Very important in relationships are, in my opinion, common experiences. This is one of reasons of going out with friends. How to have common experiences with someone, who knows us only from the Internet?

  4. Agnieszka Kow. says:

    I read an article in the magazine “Twój styl” or “Elle” (I don’t remember) about the contact between parents and children. It was very interesting because it showed that the Internet can also help to build up relations. For example it is very hard, in general, to talk with teenagers; they are moody, they don’t listen to adults, they have their secrets, and such an impersonal contact as the one established via the Internet gives them can be called a “weapon” for parents. If they try to write to their child via a communicator or to send an e-mail, it can open up the young person somehow. Also for the parents it is easier to start some serious talks in this way, instead of face to face (and it is always better to talk, than not to talk at all). In using the Internet parents can also send their children a signal like “we aren’t so different from you and we understand this way of life.”

    • Alina Alens says:

      Great input, Agnieszka!

      One note on what you call a communicator.
      Is it a term you translated from Polish?
      I remember coming across this very same term in other papers. I believe you mean instant messenger or other social online platforms, don’t you?
      The term communicator in English does not refer to platforms like Gadu-Gadu and the like.

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