Engineering student with a penchant for obsessive, sporadic and spontaneous behaviour. Take pictures, talk politics, design structures, think.
The internet is like a great ocean; each piece of information a fish within that vast ocean. We surf it. It’s tides an un-breaking crescendo of ingenuity and progress. It’s shores connect us all. Despite some oil slicks, its purity is a boon to humanity; Our greatest achievement.
It’s been nearly a decade since I left school: a decade of personal metamorphosis and change. At school and for a few years following I was self-loathing; a closeted young gay; anti-american; catholic and a unionist. I was a dreary reminder of the lack of self-confidence many Scots fall victim to. A turbulent sea of frustration held back by a flimsy dam of low self-worth, often resulting in torrents of illogical and irrational anger and hatred.
School is a difficult time for children uncomfortable in themselves. For many, including myself, the 13 years we spend in education is a constant battle of suppression; an endless struggle to drown out one’s true self for fear of rejection. Many feel that it is much easier to swim with, rather than against the flow, regardless of the personal and psychological problems it may lead to. I attended a Catholic school, which in many respects made my situation slightly more difficult to deal with than those attending a non-denominational institution.
My ‘problems’ were many. For starters, I was never really very religious at all. Santa Clause never fooled me, and I don’t think Jesus ever did either. So what was I thinking by becoming communed, confirmed and everything else in-between? - I wasn’t. Someone or something else was doing my thinking for me. I was just going with the flow; taking the easy route so as not to be cast adrift. I over-compensated as a result. You probably know how that goes.
These ‘problems’ didn’t end with religion. I always knew I was ‘different.’ I now recognise that difference as ‘being gay,’ but during school this natural and fairly acceptable part of me was very much taboo. To be suspected of being gay was the biggest insult. Ashamed, I locked this part of me away and scuttled it. I tormented myself. I hated myself. I would question my normality, my humanity. I sacrificed my own mental health for the appeasement and acceptance of others.
Religion, sexuality and politics were all affected by my anger. My unionism was so pronounced that I’m actually quite embarrassed to reminisce. I used to deny Scotland’s existence as a country. “We’re not a country, we’re a region.” I still hear people use the same watery arguments. “We can’t afford it, we’re useless.” I used to froth at the mouth at the thought of the ‘illustrious history’ of the British Empire, the Queen and would revel in the ‘pride’ wars inflicted upon other nations brought me. Power before people.
Access to the internet, more specifically access to people and information, brought a tsunami of personal change. People who shared my experiences, and information which dealt with truth and facts in a more intelligent and thoughtful manner led me down a course of rediscovery. Ingrained untruths were slowly eroded; self-hate washed away; and ignorance slowly carried off in a current of transformation.
The best thing a young person, with difficulty accepting themselves, can do is speak to people like them - that’s what I did. I spoke to other young gay guys. Shared experiences. Visited help websites. I quickly learned that there was nothing wrong with me and that there was a niche community which would accept me without question and a wider society were acceptance was growing exponentially. When I finally plucked up the courage I told my parents, my relatives, my friends - they didn’t care. Nobody cared. I spent all that time torturing myself for nothing.
Upon accessing the internet, my vehement and stubborn Unionism was flushed out rather swiftly. It began with a genuine desire to understand how to improve the state of the UK. I discovered that things I had previously taken as gospel weren’t quite as true as they appeared. When you discover you’ve been lied to you generally take a more cynical approach, and that’s what I did. I read more and more on the topic and finally arrived at one conclusion: For the benefit of the people of these islands, the constitution needs a dramatic shake-up. With such a slim chance of this change happening from within, I determined that outright independence was the easier option to achieve.
With my self-loathing cleansed, I was able to see previously indoctrinated, and often anger induced opinions in a new, fresh light. One ripple of information grew into an unstoppable wave of reformed opinions, of new knowledge and a new perspective. It’s safe to say that the internet changed my life, as it has changed the way that human society functions. Without it, I would still be the same negative, angry and pessimistic school boy I once was.
The internet is like a great ocean; each piece of information a fish within that vast ocean. I’ve certainly done a lot of fishing. Thanks, internet, for all the fish.