Ironically, I judge people by how much time they spend online. This is part of my ongoing "What the fuck is happening?!" slow roll freakout reaction to the internet. I tend to view these people as suckers who either don't know how to disentangle themselves from the doubtlessly banal, pointless or sad things they must be doing online (getting into political arguments on reddit, looking at photos of their exes on Facebook, self-diagnosing on webmd, or...gaming*), or as people whose lives are shitty enough that the internet is preferable.
How do I explain my own presence on the web? First of all, blow me, you don't know me. Secondly, I am taking online classes, and thirdly, my best friends in the world all live far away, and how else am I supposed to communicate with them? If those sound like bullshit excuses, it's because they are. Also, the online class thing only works on older people. Older people who won't ask questions like, "Oh, are your classes on Pinterest?"
I'm as guilty as anyone else of being too present on the internet. The longer this goes on, the more normal it seems, and while I think I am probably only middling on the spectrum of internet-loserdom (somewhere, someone just leapt a horse over a fence or is Jeremiah Johnsoning it up in the wilderness, but someone somewhere else is on their (his, who are we kidding) 7th consecutive hour of World of Warcraft), I don't want to sink any lower. That's why I'm no longer participating in any new sites that one has to join. I sure hope nothing cool gets developed, because I am not signing up for it. I think there are a lot of undetectable, negative side effects to the internet. Comparing oneself to others is an ancient human favorite when it comes to self-damaging activities, and now it is possible to compare yourself to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD. Wondering if you are attractive? You're not, here are photos of 178,000 people who prove this. Feeling like a champ because you made the Dean's List? What a child. Forget evaluating yourself against your classmates, friends or family to figure out who is having the best time; that's small time nickel and dime, as the greatest rapper of all time would say. The sky is the limit for finding people who are better than you are. There are people who are so much more successful than you are that your lame, second-rate brain can't even comprehend the magnitude of your whateverness.
I also find this culture of display to be really weird. You know damn well that most times a camera comes out at an event or on a trip, it's because they're already envisioning posting that shit on their Facebook or blog. Yeah, they probably want to remember the moment, but they really want to share it with people who had no part in it. I think they want to portray an enviable, constantly-interesting, well-turned-out life. I guess anyone would want that, but really, that much? I believe that most of these people who carefully craft their online images are actually unfulfilled, possibly unhappy people seeking to live vicariously through their own fictionalized lives. Isn't it also fun to give no fucks about what people think about you, and to not be aware of what they think? Yeah, I'm wearing an inside out Edgar Allan Poe shirt and my grandma's bra (story for another day); you have a problem? If you do, guess what, don't care, and in all reality, probably don't know. It's for the best!
I totally buy all of these alarmist articles on HuffPo about how the internet is eroding millenia of lessons about human interaction, self-perception, blah blah. I read these articles on the internet. I know.
This brings me to my long-anticipated point. I have spent a lot of time not on the internet this week, and have thereby discovered a type of productivity hitherto unknown to me. Thereby and hitherto in the same sentence, are you still reading? I have been cat-sitting at my grandmother's house. She doesn't have cable. She doesn't have wifi. Her computer blows. To entertain myself, I have been forced to do homework and read books, and it has kind of been the time of my life, within reason. After three consecutive weeks of totally fucking off with my classes, I have completed a great deal of work. I have read several books! I wish I could say that I was also completing other tasks, but it's too hot and my S.A.D. is still in effect due to summer.
So basically, I have to figure out how to draw a strong line between me and the internet, because I would like to continue my newfound success, and really, I kind of hate being informed of what every person I know is doing all day long. I experience guilt and embarrassment when posting to Facebook. I am only really interested in what about 3 of my Facebook friends have to say. Again, what is this life?! I don't like enough other people to have signed myself up for a constantly rolling bottom ticker about their kids' first days of school or what they ate for dinner or all of their wrong political opinions! No! I don't need to read every blog and article, and I sure as hell don't need to read the comments on them. A decent portion of my time online is spent saying shitty things to other people based on their wrongness, and while I generally stand behind this, in the end I am only giving myself a heart attack. How many internet arguments have resolved with anything like, "Hey, I never thought about it that way! Thanks for your perspective! No hard feelings, pally!" No. They end with people trying to curse each other with their keyboards and telling each other that they hope the other gets hit by a bus in front of their family. As someone who is genetically predisposed to being pissed off, I really don't need this shit. I have plenty of things to be mad about all by myself without ever having to read what some fucking jag in Kentucky thinks about "the feminist agenda".
Obligatory commentary re: the internet isn't all bad: duh. I understand that I would not be able to cook anything or find cheap textbooks or figure out where to go on vacation or know everything about anything without the internet. I mean, I guess there are encyclopedias and recipe books, but I am on a schedule here. I have made friends on the internet; good ones, too. Anita and I met on Livejournal in 2001, and she is one of my best main-style buddies for life! The internet allows me to commiserate with other people and/or learn that no one's life is necessarily going the way they want it to, which is apparently a necessary comfort. Without the internet, I would not have Bitches Gotta Eat, Angeliska Gazette, Hark a Vagrant, Achewood, innumerable awesome podcasts, and the veritable universe of blogs written by middle aged gay men ostensibly for the main purpose of NEVER LETTING NORMA DESMOND DIE. And I wouldn't have found my new 100% greatest life inspiration Caitlin Moran, or all of the other things I need in order to enjoy life. I would still be able to send long, rambling letters to my best friends and to hear about their lives all the time, but this makes it faster. So, great.
But I'm seriously still going to scale it back.
*Obviously I have done all of these things, except gaming, because come on. I think I left out what most people are actually doing online, though: PORN. I forget about that one.
I seriously have to explain the grandma bra thing at some point just because I don't want that one dangling without clarification (not that it gets better!), but I have to go not be at a computer now.