Writing and the Internet: Why the Internet is Your Friend

These days, it’s absolutely easy to find information on just about anything. Considering that we’re living in the age of the Internet, where virtually the entire world is connected and is accessible through all sorts of gadgets, it’s not surprising that any regular person can find out about the basic things in most topics, from medicine to science to literature and beyond. News articles are archived, how-to’s are available, and online encyclopedias – from Wikipedia to Encyclopedia.com – can be good repositories of information. Obviously, the Internet won’t be conferring degrees in astrophysics to the regular armchair Internet surfer anytime soon (and it is important to remember that not everything on the Internet is reliable information, and that the good researcher should check and cross-check information before deeming it accurate), but when you need a quick brush-up on surface knowledge on many topics, then the Internet can be hard to beat, really.

All this talk about the Internet — well, what does this have to do with writing, and why should you be concerned about the Internet as a repository of knowledge if you’re a writer? The answer might be painfully obvious, but it is almost as easy to ignore. There’s a saying that goes “write what you know,” but obviously no one knows everything about everything. So following that, “write what you know,” but if you’re not sure about what you’re writing, the next step is “know what you write.” Writing isn’t just about spinning pretty words and vivid sentences into wonderful scenes. A lot of times, in writing, you find that you’re tackling certain topics you’re not entirely sure about, whether they’re technical or otherwise, and you feel like you’re hitting a dead end because you’re not sure if you’re writing about these particular topics properly. What would those familiar with those certain topics say if they come across your writing? We’re all scared of misinformation, and of writing inaccurately, as inaccurate content hurts your text and the chances of readers getting immersed in it. Moreover, your credibility as a writer may also be put at risk.

And here, at this point, is where the Internet comes in. When you write, make sure to do a bit – or a lot, depending on you, really – of research on what you’re writing about. It’s not simply about character development and location, looking up tips on how to write certain kinds of characters or subvert certain tropes. While those are important for your craft, and especially if you want to set yourself apart from existing pieces of written work, those aren’t the only things that you have to pay attention to. Medical scenes, the recovery period of the human body, politics, functions of machines – they’re all very important, as well. You don’t have to go incredibly in-depth to learn anything and everything about, say, about behaviors of certain bird species (this is creative writing, after all, and not a thesis on bird behaviors), but at the very least, you do have to know basic information that’s related to what you’re writing about. Don’t be afraid to use search engines and look up blogs that give out writing tips! There are a lot on the Internet and they’re useful. Good writing is backed by good research — and it will make your writing all the more engaging.

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Creep Collective and the Insidious Internet

The Internet is a very fascinating space because of its very function – a high-speed gateway to virtually everything around the world. Apparently, there are recipes to aid the everyday person in making homemade bombs, poisons, and all sorts of nasty stuff. For every highly useful academic paper, there is a list of tips on how to pull off the perfect murder. For every Elmo’s World, there is the Internet’s Battle Royale.

Everything on the Internet is a contribution by a person, or a group of people. Hence, everything on the Internet is made by everyone else. Everything happening on the Internet, likewise – trends, social media phenomena, big YouTube hits – is caused by everyone else. It’s safe to assume that on the other side of the world, in a different time zone, a person like you is sitting there, commenting on that very photo you’re looking at, either in all caps with a profusion of exclamation marks (zOMG!!!!!!!!) or an unintelligible string of characters.

And the Internet is brilliant, of course. Except when it’s not. Clearly, the unregulated cyberspace encourages people from all walks of life – and from all sorts of Internet speeds – to go all-out and be creative, with very little limit as to what is being posted. Unless it’s illegal and criminal in real life (the seedy underbelly of online trafficking, for example), it’s going on the Internet. And the most horrifying ones you see online don’t exactly fall under the “candid photos from last night’s” list.

I’ve gone on to collect some of the most “inspiring” and interesting things online. While October’s over, and the eyes are trained to that sleigh-manning bearded old man, some of these things are still relevant. Because, of course, everybody needs the creeps. The following are interesting precisely because they’re uncanny, they’re weird, and they’re downright questionable. They’re inspiring because the people who thought of them are living their everyday lives like you do, and hopefully they inspire you to think out of the box and into Uncanny Valley, the Underworld, or somewhere equally unnerving.

A rundown:

  1. This is a personal favourite. If you’re familiar with shows like The Ghost In My Child, where episodes tackle stories of parents whose children pass through certain episodes that suggest that they’ve lived through past lives, this Reddit thread gives a whole lot more of that. Apart from purported past lives, though, there are also children who give out-of-context statements that are enough to terrify.
  2. Atlas Obscura is less of a horror site and more of a sort of database where weird things and places all over the world can be found. The website’s staff and volunteers scour the world over for curiosities like hanging coffins, abandoned research complexes, ghost cities, and haunted houses – among others. Think of Atlas Obscura as a site to help you chart your next unusual getaway. An itinerary that’s a little less Disneyland, a little more Pripyat.
  3. This one is a horror story because it’s real. It’s real life. If you’ve been on Twitter and have been monitoring the trends a few weeks ago, I bet you came across the one trend that managed to break past the microblogging site and into public consciousness – #alexfromtarget. Fifteen minutes of fame, this one’s not. Alex Lee – the famous “Alex from Target” – has, since his overnight celebrity boom, garnered a lot of attention from both online and in real life. Positive and negative attention. And this may be good if you’re up for fame, but not if you’re like Alex who, in this article, admits that he’s “kind of scared to go in public.” It’s amazing how the collective mind of the Internet can work on something this fast. The testament to creativity is not in the random, seemingly out-of-the-blue trendsetting, however. It’s in the existence of Alex From Target fanfiction, which appeared as soon as Alex did.
  4. Creativity seems to manifest itself online better than in real life – or at least it gets more attention faster – because people make the creepiest stuff out of the least creepy things. Take this, for example: the Teletubbies theme song, slowed down by 800%. Whoever thought of this is a genius. But the thing itself is good for nightmare fuel.

A lot of creepy, interesting stuff by creative minds are online, and all are searchable, of course. Some of the things I didn’t list down – and there are a lot, because on the Internet, there can never be a shortage of anything – are creepypastas like Slenderman (who has, since his inception, spawned video games). This list also does not include unnerving pictures of Nicolas Cage Photoshopped on pretty much everything.

I don’t know if this was inspiring, or it fuelled you creatively. Certainly, though, I hope you pick something out of this. The lesson, too, being that you should learn to think out of the box… just don’t endanger people’s lives (Alex From Target, for example).


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