Posted on August 19, 2021 by Carla Russo
Before school I’d give myself a pep talk. I was like one of those inspirational sports coaches you see in movies, hyping up their team before the big game: Ok Carla, today’s the day, you’re going to raise your hand in class, just say one thing, one tiny thing, you can do it!
Sometimes I would do it, but a lot of times, I didn’t. I’d gulp down my voice like it was Panadol and feel disappointed in myself. Everyone else seemed to be so good at it, so carefree. I felt a bit broken: Why was it so hard for me? I wished I could just shake the shyness out of myself. Was that too much to ask?
Because it wasn’t like I didn’t have anything to say. I enjoyed learning, I had thoughts and opinions and personality bubbling away inside me. It just felt scary to show to people sometimes.
Me! Hi! I’m Carla a program presenter here at PROJECT ROCKIT ^
Now I’m not a mind reader (I wish) but I reckon you might relate to this. It’s pretty normal to feel like something about you is ‘wrong’ or ‘weird’ – especially in school. Maybe you’re not shy like me, but maybe you feel like you don’t fit in other ways. Maybe you have way more energy than everyone else, or you feel like you haven’t found friends you connect with yet, or maybe you’re a vampire who’s been 17 for 100 years.
Whatever it is, I get that it’s hard, especially online. The Internet is fab, but it’s also a place where we often compare ourselves to others, where we might see hateful comments about us or people we care about. So I’m here to share a few things about keeping yourself and others safe and happy online.
1 ~ Technology is like a potato
Ok, yes I am hungry, but hear me out! Potatoes are versatile. Think about it! One average-looking vegetable brings so many possibilities: mashed, roasted, boiled, cheesy, hot chips, hash browns – ahhhh music to my ears.
Similarly, our phones offer us so many opportunities. This can include some really positive things like giving us tools to express ourselves. In high school, I discovered that writing songs made me feel confident in who I was. Technology allowed me to make singing videos and share them. Even if you feel like you can’t show your true, full self, I’m sure the potato, um, I mean the Internet has some avenues for you to do that! You could make Youtube videos, create animations, chat with likeminded people on Discord, show off your outfits on TikTok or Pinterest, self-publish a story, start an Instagram page for your skateboarding obsession, make a blog where you cook every type of potato, I could go on and on. You don’t have to be ‘good’ at it and it doesn’t have to be for anyone but you.
2 ~ Your news feed is like fries
Just like a bucket of fries you get at Maccas, your feed has so much stuff crammed into it. You can go from a dog video to an infographic about a famine to a stick-thin influencer on the beach. This can be super exhausting for your brain. Just like you shouldn’t eat fries all the time, it’s not healthy to be scrolling all the time either! Sometimes you need some good ol’ fashioned veggies, so setting yourself screen time limits or having an hour of screen-free time before bed can be really handy in giving your mind a rest.
3~ I’m a soggy hash brown and everyone else is a crispy potato gem
Online it can sometimes feel like everyone else is cooler, more exciting and better looking than you. You feel like a cold, mushy hash brown and they’re living their best life as a perfect potato gem. I guarantee everyone feels like this sometimes! Everyone’s putting forward the best image of themselves online, including you! The difference is, you’re in your own brain so you know all the less happy, less exciting parts of your life, while you just assume everyone else is the person they are online. Plus, everyone’s usually too busy worrying about their own stuff than scrutinising your insecurities. Every potato is beautiful!
If you’re feeling down or need support, here’s some great free resources:
4 ~ The potato can go mouldy
Potatoes are probably the best thing ever created, but, like anything, they go off. What I mean is, the Internet can be a nasty place. Like a potato, it can grow some mouldy bits, allowing people to hide behind a screen and post or comment hateful things. Just like a stinky potato, we don’t want this sort of thing in our lives, right? It’s not doing anyone any good. Using the tools available, like turning off comments, blocking and reporting, can help get these hateful comments out of our life so we can focus on potatoey goodness!
5 ~ Don’t blame the potato for being mashed
When someone is targeted online, especially in cases where private photos of theirs are made public, people can blame them. But this isn’t fair. A potato doesn’t mash itself! It’s the person with the masher who does the mashing. Likewise, blaming and shaming the person targeted doesn’t make sense. Instead, supporting them and getting the hate removed is the way to go!
6 ~ Be a sweet potato <3
Chucking out the mouldy potato is good, but then we can just be left hungry. So, when we see someone being targeted online, another thing we can do is spread positivity, or be a sweet potato. This could mean private messaging the person, going up to them at school or commenting on their post – anything to show them that you’ve got their back and that you think they’re great! Even if you don’t know them very well, don’t be afraid to show support. It goes a long way. Surely they’d rather have a sweet potato than just be left with a rancid potato taste in their mouth.
Ok, so I’m off to have a potato feast now. I hope you’re not too hungry and, more importantly, that you’ve learnt a few things to help make the online world the juiciest, tastiest, loveliest potato for everyone!