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Saturday, February 28, 2015

To my-sixth-grade-self,

Pretty soon, all your friends will have MySpace pages and you will not have the permission from your mother to make a page of your own. No worries, your best friend will make a page for you and she’ll keep it secret until your mom’s answer changes from ‘no’ to ‘I really wish you wouldn’t.’ As a person who cares more about your well being than anyone else in the world, including you, I feel it would best come from me. You’re on the brink of discovering something huge. You won’t know when it happens or why you fell in the first place, but the television will soon step aside and be replaced by the Internet, and you’ll fall in love with it.

I know what you’re thinking (I am you after all). “How is that possible? What about the news?” you ask yourself. One day, you’ll have access to all the news you could ever want to know on the internet. The news broadcasts you watch on TV will have websites of their own to share the world’s happenings in this new way. Think about the news slide presentation on AOL. You look at it all the time just before logging into instant message. Just like that but on an exponentially larger scale. In the future, you will not frequent instant message or MySpace but the online world is yours for the taking.

I’d like to offer you a head of caution before you get in over your head. Don’t get me wrong, digital media is, for the part, most as great as it sounds but it does have it’s drawbacks. There is a such thing as information overload. Any information truthful or not can be found with just a little searching. Be careful of what you search for because you won’t be able to un-see the darkest depths on the online world and trust me you’ll want to. You’ll be in the know about the things happening thousands of miles away the same seconds they happen. I know it sounds cool but put your eyeballs back in your head and read these words carefully. Many things go wrong with lightning fast reporting. Think about the game ‘telephone’ where everyone stands in a circle and whispers a phrase into the next person’s ear. The message that comes out is never exactly the same as what it started as. It’s not until the excitement is over that you learn where the phrase went wrong and it’s not the player’s fault for mishearing the phrase but it does take time to accurately sort out the information flow. (At the end of the year you’ll play a huge game of telephone with the entire 6th grade and you won’t care that the teachers are trying to convey this very message.)

Unlike the news you watch on TV, you will have to sort out for yourself when the media is being truthful and honest. You’ll need to learn how to tell when the media is trying to get you to agree with their opinion. It will take time, but once you know how to pick up on these reporting tactics, you’ll feel like nothing will get past you. It is important to carefully inspect sources but be skeptical of all of them. Even when you do realize the inaccuracies, but do not throw those sources aside. You may find things you don’t agree with will strengthen your opinion and sometimes things that you do agree with will end up weakening your support.

I do not want to scare you away from the internet, though I know that would be very hard for anyone to do. You should grab the online universe by the balls. With your security setting locked tight you should make a YouTube account before all your friends do, share pictures of yourself and your friends on Instagram, and tweet to all the celebrities you wish to because you never just how many people might see.

For the next 10 years you'll be okay,
Katie from the future

P.S. When that one girl gets bratty with you, find a better best friend. You’ll be doing everyone involved a favor.

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