Well, dear readers, it seems the internet gods have deemed it necessary to bless me with a night uninterrupted from tweets, chirps, pokes, chats, favorites, follows, friends, profiles, posts, shares, statuses, stickies, stumbles, tumbles, grumbles, flickrs, stickers, and whatever we can say that rhymes with quicker.
Quicker- quicker than your little ten waving digits can possibly rally over the keyboard, faster than my piano scales after being popped in the butt with a steroid injection at the ER. Faster than this meat cleaver I call an excuse for a brain can comprehend…or keep up with.
My internet has failed to work and I’m stalled in silence, with only an overheating laptop and my own mind twanging away at 4AM to keep me company. Alas.
It’s like stepping into a forest, shrouding the noise pollution of a busy highway at 5PM – startling. Humbling. Lonely at first but…familiar.
Strange that something so easy as turning off the internet could produce such results. Strange that, if it were left up to me, I would’ve never probably turned the damn thing off to begin with. Yet here we are. …well, here I am, I should say, because I write this without the hope of a soon-to-be-babble-blog.
Silence may be the salvation for writers. Peace to be alone with your thoughts and let your creative juices flow without pulp. You generate one thought pattern, and you follow it, watch it flower before you like a budding blossom, one petal unfurling a new story, a new character, a new wave of consciousness.
And yet we don’t.
We hound our subconscious with such an overwhelming flood of social networking, it’s not even social anymore. Some of us are morphing like Power Rangers gone back in time, acting like competitive warlords with separation anxieties. SOME of us (hint hint) are hoarding over our petty pieces of internet land propaganda, claiming connection and communication as the key to our success.
It’s not market strategy, it’s not even market expansion. It’s more like market dominance.
Sure, it’s a good feeling if you’re playing Monopoly, but sooner or later you have to come down from your high, because that’s all it is…a game.
As I write this I can feel my social networking followers crumbling, aghast beneath me at not my audacity, but probably my naivety. What train station did I get off, that I dare question this awesome, powerful internet that has granted me the ability to apply for medical school while discovering a new hip-hop-infused-trance-dance-group, dressed in nothing more professional than a sweaty tank top (it’s humid in the Midwest) and buried underneath about fourteen pillows….(I like something to hug when I sleep).
Buddhism teaches us that every.one. has a valuable, worthwhile thought, an enlightening perspective simply because it is their own. To likewise listen, to share, is a beautiful thing.
Buddhism also teaches us, don’t take yourself too seriously. Invite interest, invite instigation, take challenges. It’s not through the waging war of the SEO battle that we unite. It is when the desire to communicate comes from our hearts, that we truly connect.
I have enough faith in mankind to believe that the blogs and tweets and posts and statuses (this word always makes me think of static cling, and I can’t help but remark on their similarities) are actually generated by people who genuinely care about their content. It’s not their fault they’ve got to share that interesting video or 500-word article or once-a-week-coupon-deal on about sixteen other social networking sets, complete with profile pics and witty bios and, oh wait, you’re not on StumbleUpon? Well, screw you, I’m sorry, we can’t hire someone who isn’t trying hard enough to get out there.
But we ARE out there. We’re stretched so thin that we’ve equated quality with quantity. I see a million citizen newspapers competing with a million magazines competing with a million blogs competing with a million statuses competing with a million tweets that dumb down War and Peace into 140 words of succinct profundity. We throw out the thesaurus to replace it w/2 #wrds. We spend so much time glittering and google free templates to stand out from the rest, and why?
The easy answer is that because of the faceless medium that is the world wide connect, users are forced to find creative ways to a) express their cute little personalities and b) maximize their search engine results. It’s like ten year olds trying to figure out who pitches first by stacking fists on a bat – who comes out number one, on top in Google, wins. Until the next inning.
Now, before you think I’m going to suggest that the apocalypse mentions in detail how the demise of our great people will be brought on by internet demons, I do not believe the internet is in any shape or form evil, if there is such a thing.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge is knowledge, no matter where it comes from. You can learn what you know on the street, in the pen, with a pen, from your professor, from your grandmother. What matters, what matters to ME, is what you do with it.
Do you generate thought? Do you use your knowledge to obtain more? Do you spread it in a way that is liberal, free, open, flexible like the winds of change skipping over lily pads in the rapids of the Kern River? It’s not the best analogy, considering lily pads and white water rapids don’t go quite well together in Southern California, but you get the idea.
Anywho, it’s stressful, to say the least. If anything, we communicate MORE, we distribute MORE, we churn out more knee-jerk quotes and saucy flirtations than any other phase in history. We desperately bookmarking every profile we can claim and connect, purposely repeating ourselves, purposely talking over ourselves. There is a reason why higher learning and academic research rarely accept the internet as a reliable source for information. @Bibliography: follow my Twitter list.
I’m the kid that thinks too much. I’m that nerd in sixth grade who did the biographical book report on Nietszche just because she wanted to show off who he was. I wrote NASAand Hillary Clinton the year before just to introduce myself. The power of words has never been lost on me. If anything, I’m a slight too aware.
And please, I’m already painfully attentive to the fact that while I was being a social little butterfly, everyone else was already getting their first kiss or pushing kids over in the playground. Those are issues best reserved for a state licensed therapist and the giant bag of M&M’s I keep stashed in the air conditioning vent.
Sooo, I digress….
Here is where the internet offers a re-dud such as myself a chance to express controversial thoughts or issues free from face. I can blurt out exactly what I want, when I want, how I want. I can do it practically safe from truly facing the taunts of my peers. If I blunder, make a mistake, whose to know, whose to care.
The odd thing is, we’re hoping that someone cares.
We’re hoping someone pipes up. If our statuses aren’t liked or commented or retweeted or sent on the toes of pigeons across the seas of exchange, it’s garbage. Might as well delete. Might as well melt back into the madness that is the internet and recalculate our approach. With recalculation, I fear, rarely comes a higher chain of thought, just more…thoughts.
Now don’t get snotty with me.
No where in this article do I dare suggest that your thoughts, dreams, goals, even that YouTube video of the cat stuck in a cardboard box that you thought was charming (what the hell is with all the cat videos?), aren’t valuable. It’s the fact that I think you and your flitting nightmares are SO incredibly and dearly valuable that I want to see less of them.
I want to see you savor your thoughts. Turn ‘em about in your head. Don’t blurt the first witty thing that comes to your head out IMMEDIATELY. “Damn, that toothpaste cap sure came off quickly. LMAO”
Mobile for your Facebook? I’m sure as hell glad I’m not the one sitting across from you at the dinner table while you reply to John’s comment on Rebecca’s joke on Aaron’s quiz on what country best suits his personality. It must be terribly pressing, all those people, waiting in anticipation for what you have to say, waiting for your response. If I were your date, I’d be waiting for the check.
But you DON’T have to be yourself. It’s one of the glories. Rather, you can be “yourself”, or the one that you always dreamt of being. Maybe even connect with some cute girls. Maybe get a job! Maybe make millions. Maybe you’ll stumble and flickr so much that you’ll discover that what this world needs is another social networking site specifically for people who enjoy S’Mores, and you’ll make your millions from your garage, and write your life story in slippers.
While life is oh-so-very-obviously-totally about the awesomeness that is S’Mores, it’s certainly NOT about your garage, or your slippers. No, not your smelly bathrobe either. Not the recliner.
I swear, even with the internet turned off, I can hear the smarmy comments of potential readers floating in cyberspace. But it’s my own ego telling me someone out there is actually reading, much less something more than 1,000+ words, and on the internet no less.
As a writer, visiting Borders and Barnes & Noble used to depress me in a way. Back when I hadn’t yet realized that I was the hottest thing since edible thongs, I used to sit on the third floor overlooking the Santa Monica Promenade, gazing up in loss at the hundreds of books surrounding me. Olds authors, new ideas, incomprehensible amounts of original, beautiful, enticing content. I could never read them all in my life. Never admire the classics to the point of their worth, never catch up on Oprah’s Book Club…never compete.
You see, I too fell into the trap that I was sent out with a creative hoe to farm not ideas nor imagination, but plow competition. Most other times, I’m completely perfect. Ask my mommy.
So I had to hold my breath. Figuratively…I had to….think. Let those little seeds take root in my right brain and cultivate my hippocampus until my amygdala caught wind of the good news and we all started working together again. I had to let myself become myself, rather than just become another obstruction for another’s tired ideas to pass through, regurgitated and dried out.
What makes the internet a worthwhile source is it’s accessibility to these new ideas. I can watch the World Cup at six in the morning in California while Stefano chews dinner in Italy and Skypes me his frat brothers laughing at the US fake another stubbed toe. Quicker than a snap of my fingers, because I suck at snapping.
And there are so many people on this overblown planet of ours that 1,500 social profiles let everyone have a piece of the pie. You can open yourself to a whole new world of people, they can open themselves to you.
Just like how @BFranklin distributed the #declarationforindependence and got all those loopy signatures. I fell over myself the other day when I had to manually fax a transcript request form into a university because they required a personal, real-time, incomprehensible, ballpoint pen signature of my very, very own. Unlike spam blockers, it was a little more than simply verifying that I’m not a wooden puppet, I’m real.
The world existed for centuries without the internet. Even the explosion of the technological era still exploded without so much as a dial-up. Before hotmail, before email, there was snail mail.
There is nothing quite as personal, as meaningful, as special, than that traditional letter in the mail. We all remember running down to the mailbox as kids, eagerly riffling through the piles of bills and ads, hoping for someone looking for us, a piece of mail with OUR name on it. Up until we were fourteen and started to catch on that the only things that were coming were sketchy credit card apps, it meant to us that there was someone out there, interested in what we had to say.
The internet gives us that. A cushy, warm kind of feeling like a warm mug of coca, a blanket fresh out of the dryer and bear hugging our shoulders. That somewhere, in a sea of billions and billions of people, someone cares. We just have to reach. And because so many people are reaching too, we have to reach farther, harder, we can’t be psychic octopuses, we’ve got to Photoshop the Gulf and make big results. But it’s just Photoshop.
The internet is real, oh yes. The work people put into it is real. Valuable even, on some levels, in some instances. Websites of newborn babies or a young and talented oil painter fulfill a need, have a place, a purpose, in our lives. Some of us have never known a day without the internet, cannot imagine distribution of information without it.
You want to be creative? You want me to pick my head up from my sullen state of blog boredom and linger on whatever it is you want me to listen to? I love the internet, but I’m not my Facebook page. I’m not even my Twitter and Stumble and YouTube and Hotmailand eBook and Amazon and CatVideoFan profiles COMBINED.
There are all these prompts for me to fill in a bio in 10 words or less, but that’s not a biography, that’s not even a description.
Let me shake your hand, let me laugh at your jokes, let me drink too much coffee and get all jittery and sweaty and spill it on the table, let me see your purple moccasins with holes in the toes, let me see your split ends, let me see your smile too.
Hello, it’s Deanna, and I miss you.
I want to reach out and touch you, I want to hear your voice on the phone. I don’t want a Facebook group invite to your bday bash, Jersey Shore style, although it’s nice to brag to the universe that I know you, because you’re great, but because you’re great, I don’t think the internet is big enough for the both us.
For all of us. It’s meant as a supplement to human interaction, not a replacement. Kindle? Give me a library book in my hands, one I can break the spine on a beach and dogear a quote, and write a dedication to my daughter.
Call me traditional. Call me antiquated. Call this article way to friggen long for a tired rant on one of the greatest inventions of our time. But I find a silence startling when even a writer wonders where all her good ideas have gone. Sometimes TOO much connection can be an intrusion, a bombardment of the senses. You don’t have to be a creative thinker for your words to hold water, weight, importance, meaning.
There is nothing wrong with being inspired by what we see and find on the internet, through whichever medium we so choose. I cannot say I am rife with FEAR that we will one day lose the ability to communicate – however. We have heard that conversation is a art, there are rumors it is a dead one. Nothing is ever dead, not completely. But they do change, one way or another, right now, right then, right next, and now again. That’s why, if you hold on to that thought, the one you had 800 words ago about the toothpaste cap, let it come, let it go. The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Learn to love it, learn to let it grow organically. Thinking doesn’t have to be forced, but it does have to be practiced. You never know what kind of field those seeds will plant. And you never know who you will meet, out in the sun of what you have grown.
Now excuse me, but I have to go post this on my blog. Otherwise, I’m just a babbling kid with an expensive laptop, writing for free while the rest of the West coast sleeps.
Ah, but I know the sun is rising somewhere…and someone is just as bored, or boring, as I.
Peace and Love,
your friendly, neighborhood Deanna.