The Power of the Internet
Internet allows us to be citizens of the world and undermines borders and dictators. Read how it did so for me in this essay.
I was born and raised in Iran. Since childhood I was taught to hide myself. We had a deck of playing cards, but it was illegal so I couldn’t have talked to my friends about the games I played. Alcohol was served in family gatherings, but it was illegal so I shouldn’t have mentioned it to my friends. My parents’ political ideology was left, but that had gotten my father in prison so I had to keep my mouth shut about politics. We listened to music sang by women which was illegal, so I couldn’t talk about the musics I liked either.
So I grew up having learned not to share anything with anyone. I had friends in primary school and high school, but none of them knew who I really was. I went to university and the same story continued. Except now, I had found one more secret: I was gay! Also illegal.
After years of hiding myself, I was introduced to the internet. I could have social media accounts under a false name, I could blog under a false name, and so on… And that allowed me to express my thoughts and beliefs freely. However, it was not easy. I had to learn how to express myself.
It took me years to find communities online where I felt safe. And then I slowly started to talk about myself. I found new friends who knew me better than my IRL friends did. While I still struggled with sharing much about myself, I started to feel closer to people and more alive. A new door was opened for me, a door which allowed me to meet people who lived in a more free world; and that helped me feel like I was living in a more free world. That feeling of freedom is what allowed me to imagine how different my world in Iran could be. Before meeting the world through internet, I was living in my own bubble unaware of what happiness was. Afterwards, I knew how small my bubble was and how it could be. And gradually I started to imagine other possibilities of how our world can be.
I still struggle to be fully myself, but it’s getting easier the more I do it. And while living under an oppressive regime, it gives me a chance to experience freedom. And that is the power of the internet and why oppressive regimes like Iran’s are afraid of it.