Women are gathering in online circles, now is a time for real change

Dominique McMullan shares her refreshing spin on how to make the most – and the best – of the multi-media maelstrom that is our modern online life.

January 2019 will see everyone and their hamster vowing to put their phones down and digitally detox their soul from the evil that is “screentime”. I get it. We’re all spending far too much time looking down, necks bent, spines curved, gazing into the digital abyss, waiting for our next dopameme hit. We’re obsessed. We’re no longer talking to each other and we will soon be doomed to a life spent only communicating through emojis.

I’m the worst offender. I recently downloaded an app to see how much time on average I spend looking at my phone. It’s four hours a day. I even bring my phone to the bathroom and often find myself sitting there scrolling for far too long after is necessary.

But self-control issues aside, the digital world gets an awful lot of flack. Fear of the new is natural. I imagine the world revolted when the printing press arrived. I’m sure mothers and fathers told little Hans how back in their day, they didn’t even know what a pencil was. I imagine people worried that no one would talk to each other any more, as they would all be too busy immersed in books and writing letters (doesn’t that sound dreamy?).

Like overexcited children at Christmas, we took the internet out of the box and played with it until our eyes stung. Now that the initial excitement is ending, we are beginning to see better, more functional and less harmful ways to make use of this tool.

Last year, scandals like Cambridge Analytica taught us valuable lessons about the online space, and how we use it. We know now not to believe everything we read online, and to place value on the information we share and consume. We are moving away from an era of click bait and into a time of truth. More than half the world is now online. We’re beginning to understand how powerful a voice the internet can provide for those previously unheard. 2018 saw communities come together in those spaces in ways they never have before.

On IMAGE.ie, our third-most read article was entitled "Belfast rape trial: hear my truth" by talented young journalist Lauren Heskin, who wrote passionately about the trial. The reaction to the piece spoke volumes. It went straight to most read. People wanted to hear what young women like Lauren had to say. From #MeToo to #IBelieveHer, 2018 saw the internet become a tool for women’s voices to be heard.

Our most read article from last year? A piece from contributor Sophie White in which she muses on the importance of being beautiful for women throughout history, and the hypocrisy of the economy of hotness in which we live now. The piece has been read nearly 100,000 times. Its impact has been far-ranging.

We have seen it on IMAGE.ie as we have seen it across the world. We are living in a paradigm shift. Women are gathering in online circles to discuss their shared experiences. We are ready to hear each other’s voices; digital platforms are being used to protest, to protect and to platform. This is a time for real change.

My digital dream for 2019? That IMAGE.ie and digital platforms across the world continue to give voice to those who were previously unheard. And that the resulting conversations are had with respect. As well, of course, as a continual supply of videos of babies eating lemons and children yodelling in supermarkets. And an alarm to go off when you’ve been sitting in the toilet for more than ten minutes while scrolling through Instagram wouldn’t go amiss either.


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