I just got back from an "unplugged" vacation, at the lake where I checked my phone daily for Wi-Fi or data access, but only managed to sneak a peak at facebook and e-mail for 20 minutes or so, late Friday afternoon. Saturday night, I got home and after the kids were bathed and in bed, I settled down for some long overdue "nettime."
Don't ask me why. Hours later, I was none the wiser about anything important. If any friend had a crisis or a celebration, it was lost in days of cluttered posts. The "news" articles I read were short on facts but long on links. I read an article about new guidelines for child car seat use, which referred to a 5-point checklist for when your child is ready to move out of a booster seat and use adult seatbelts. The checklist was not in the article, only a link that led to . . . . NOT A CHECKLIST, and after a few additional clicks on likely-looking links, still no checklist.
I moved on, not letting this one little glitch get in the way of all the INSTANTANEOUS awesomeness of the internet. Next up, an article about public breastfeeding, which I could tell would be GOOD because of the comparison to all the over-exposed, oversexualized images and attire we see everywhere. Never mind that my days of public breastfeeding were a mere blip on the radar of my life story. The three weeks per child between the "half-hour per side thank-you-very-much-mom" newborn days, and the "oooh, look at all that stuff I've never seen before" phase of a slightly more alert 4-month-old, was a very small window, during which I never experienced any unpleasant intrusions from strangers.
About five minutes into the article, I was getting riled up, for really no reason. Realistically the two to three morons who managed to make headlines by bullying breastfeeding women, are no more significant to "womankind" everywhere than the two or three morons who park across two parking spaces in the hell-lot at 14 mile and Orchard Lake.
Then I made the mistake of reading a few comments. Sure enough, within the first few, someone made mention of God, which is, on the internet, an automatic trigger for someone to claim the point made is invalid because it depends on belief in a "sky fairy."
At this point, I logged off, but my brain was still logged on, and I started wondering, what value am I getting out of all this internet information? It's all geared to short attention spans, which is not really a problem that I'm afflicted with. And it's all steeped in distance, anonymity and lack of accountability. Make an error online, and if you get called out on it, you can just update, and pretend it never happened. Or ignore it because no one knows who you really are anyway.
In real life, I can't imagine any of my friends, who know me, who know my level of intelligence, skepticism and integrity, dismissing my real belief in God, as a fantasy of a "sky fairy." If anyone would, I'd welcome an opportunity to discuss our beliefs over coffee (or over drinks if that's your preference). But I suspect, that's not a conversation most of us want to engage in, in the "real world." So why do we engage in it online?
For a week, I was unconnected. And I didn't miss anything. One day, I wondered about that famous Canadian hockey player, whose name I couldn't remember. So I asked someone (no, NOT Google) and then I did my head-slap, "of course, Wayne Gretzky, how did I forget that?"
I'm thinking about how to spend less time online. About limiting my access to "lunchbreak" or late evening. Resisting the urge to "clickthrough" to that interesting, controversial and ultimately, meaningless article. Because isn't what's really at stake, what happens in reality? In MY life, under MY sphere of control and influence? The idiocy of some stranger half-way across the country shouldn't really be getting under my skin. Let their own friends and family step up to their support. I've got enough on my plate.
I realize it's a bit hypocritical to be posting this ONLINE. I'm not saying there isn't anything of value online, or that it's not possible to make real connections and real friends. But I need to focus, and make sure the time I'm spending here is enhancing my life, not depleting my hope for the future of humanity.