In the broad domain of the internet, I have been coming across some things that, to be honest, frighten to me. The products with which seemingly the majority of the world accepts as a necessity and are vital to life just flat out are not important to everyday life. Take any social media site, for example, and ask the owner why it is important to have it. Usually their answers will go along the lines of “it helps me stay connected to my family and friends who are not near me anymore,” or “they help you with entertainment or business opportunities.” Now, I am not saying these are not benefits; however, do we really need these things to lead full, productive lives? Most people would ultimately say no we don’t, but they will assert that these things enhance ourselves. Well, in the realm of today’s uber-connected world, I am going to make the statement that these sites do not matter in terms of life changing content. They are instead a quick getaway from reality, but the danger here is that quick getaway has become a permanent move into the virtual fantasies based off the real events of the world around us. I do not use social media as much anymore, and I am on the verge of getting rid of it completely for a time for a couple reasons. First, these sites, along with other distracting content, take away from the time one can use to make quality content in the world. Second, no matter where we are in life, someone’s world looks better than the world we live in, and that can bring up the nasty feelings of jealously, greed and envy, while also promoting laziness and sadness. I can say with good conscience that the benefits of social media and the like do not outweigh the negatives we allow to come into our lives if they become a huge portion of our everyday lives.
That is not to say, however, that war should be waged against social media and the internet. In itself the internet is not evil, nor is it good. It is morally ambiguous. That is why it is a tool and not a lifestyle. A tool helps whoever the wielder is bring their own creative work to our world. I am not out here to bash people for using the internet (it is the reason you are reading this post); rather, I believe it to be in the interest of most folk to look at their tendencies on the web and decide for themselves if they abuse it or not. Boredom, as I am finding out, is a good thing. It is in boredom that ideas are born. Being able to block out the noise and distraction of life is a quality that is of benefit instead of one to be avoided, like others tend to do. I like to observe the world around me, and what I have been observing lately are what my friends do in between activities. Whether it be in line at the store, waiting on work to start, or waiting on the movie to begin, I have taken it on to look at myself and others to see what we do in these moments. And it only took three times of doing this to see that we love distraction. I am definitely not immune to this practice, however, I am now trying to understand why it is that most of society is on their phones in those times. I am no sociologist but the explanation that is clear to me is one thing: the internet is more than a tool for most of us. Whether it is movies, random articles, or social media, the internet has become too seductive and leaves us with a supposed solution to boredom. But, that is just the thing. Boredom has never been meant to be solved. It is this state that we find ways to truly express ourselves. Heck, even this writing was inspired out of the boredom that I have begun inviting into my life again. For me, and I can say that probably most of you reading as well, we have to stop thinking of stagnation as an enemy, but let it be a part of our lives to the point that when we encounter it, we get to work because we do not want it to hang around. There is also an ethical reason for my overall wariness about the habitual use of the internet, and that begins with self value.
I am not here to accuse you of being jealous or envious. However, I know that these are common conditions of humanity, so like me you may, probably, and, more likely, definitely have struggled with these in the past or present. And whether it is at the forefront of our conscience or not, the internet has allowed these nasty qualities to rear their ugly heads in a way that is troubling. These problems are particularly personal and if we are not accountable, it can steep further into our habits. It is because of an improper view of our lives as compared to other people’s lives. And boy, the internet can exacerbate that to a whole different level. The self image issue that comes out of these problems are on both sides of the equation. You have the client, or viewer, who believes the seller, or presenter, has either achieved or is doing things better that the client’s own situation. Realize though that the seller never puts any of the bad stuff of his or her life that they do not want the client to see. Do not think for a moment that one person is worse or better than you, because the only reality on social media is the fantasy reality that others create for themselves. It doesn’t deal with the nasty, unwanted feelings or events that happen unexpectedly. It doesn’t post pictures that are not perfectly curated to the seller’s preference. Life is more than just the approval of a set band of people you know well or have had a passing acquaintance with. Our self images improve when we realize that a tool does not dictate the wielder and we stop giving it the power to do so. After all, who has ever seen a hammer tell the carpenter what he is to build?
If there is one thing that I want you to get from this post (if you are still reading because you did not get offended) it is that the life we lead in the world around us is so much better, has so much more beauty and give us a full spectrum of the human experience that the internet and social media cannot give you. I do not believe these tools are bad, but I believe we can give them that quality if we so choose to allow them that opportunity. Welcome moments of boredom and seek out the lulls in life that improve our cognitive ability to work with higher capacity. I do not believe in New Year’s resolution. I believe in everyone’s choice to turn around at any given notice, whether it be the turn of the year or in the middle of a hot afternoon in June. With that being said, Happy New Years everyone!