The Internet Fast
In Lauren Groff’s latest novel, “Arcadia”, a college professor assigns his students a digital fast. They have to eschew all things digital, mobile phones, e-tablets, e-books, e-ceteras for a prescribed time and enter their thoughts and observations in a hand written journal.
I love the Internet. I love checking the tides so that I can go kayaking. That’s if I can pull myself away from the Internet.
I love the Internet. I love checking the weather forecasts so that I will know what conditions to expect so I can go for a bike ride, or a walk along the boardwalk, or go fishing, or go kayaking. That’s if I can pull myself away from the Internet.
I love the Internet. When I’m working on the my novel I love to be able to research things on the largest information asset ever imagined...the biggest museum, the biggest library, the biggest research centre in all the world...ever!
Except I get sidetracked from the novel. I check in on my Face Book friends, or read snippets about politics, or chuckle over cute pictures of little kittens and fluffy puppies and then a few hours later....
I love the Internet. I love getting in heated political debates. I love responding to hateful stupid comments. I love hurling insults and diatribes at bigots and haters. I walk away with a feeling of righteousness. I am a crusader for all that is good and fair and just. Of course the reality is that I doubt I change anyone’s minds. I just piss them off and increase their blood pressure and mine.
The most I can hope for is the encounter of like minds. And that is worthwhile and positive. I have met people online in chat groups and Face Book groups that I genuinely like, care for and respect. I love to drop into my favourite Face Book Group and visit my new friends that live half an earth away from me and whom I’ve never seen in the flesh.
One of my new friends recently took her son to the dentists. While there...there was a segment on the television with shooting victim Gabby Gifford. A man in the waiting room loudly voiced his disapproval by asking, “Why do they keep showing that idiot? She can’t even talk right!”. Apparently my friend was so upset she had to be restrained by her son. When it came time for her son to go into the dentist, my friend turned to the man and said to him, “She was shot in the head. What’s your excuse?”
How can you not love a friend like that?
I have another friend who recounted an experience with her daughter. She took her daughter to the site where Civil Rights Activist, Viola Luizzo, was shot and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1965 while driving young African Americans to voting booths. My friend told her daughter about Viola’s commitment to the cause and the high price she paid for her beliefs. She and her daughter then sent flowers and a thank you note to Viola’s daughter in commemoration.
How can you not love a friend like that?
These are among the many decent interesting folks I’ve encountered on the Internet.
You miss people like this. You miss their in-put. They reaffirm your faith and hope in people. In this world of bumper sticker hate, the inane uninformed ranting of Fox and Friends, the bullying willful ignorance of media idols like Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, Hannity and O’Reilly, amidst the hateful tirades of the gun lobby and the maniacal propaganda of the NRA, the stunning refusal of those to accept the unadulterated fact that the planet is warming, you need affirmation that the decent, the compassionate, the intelligent and the informed are out there.
All these good things can be abused and over used. They can become a habit. They can become an addiction.
Not as bad as cigarettes, heroine, alcohol or crack but still an addiction.
The internet addiction may not give you lung cancer or emphysema...but it could contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases and ailments associated with sitting on your posterior for much of the day. And it certainly can lead you off task. The day can suddenly disappear with projects incomplete or not even started.
I am obviously not alone in this addiction. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
So I’ve decided to go on an Internet Fast. One check of my email in the morning and that’s it. Abstinence for three days. I will work on my book. I will write in a journal. I will finish some incomplete jobs.
I will return with a plan and a discipline...an Internet Diet.