(originally appeared on ConsiderReconsider.com – May 9th, 2012)
It was an affair that started out deliciously well. Before me stood a machine that enabled me connect with anyone, everyone, all the time, everywhere. As a kid who grew up listening to records alone in my bedroom I felt electrified by the possibilities the internet provided. Beyond that keyboard and the screen was a world of people just like myself, and finally I was able to connect with them.
As the years wore on the luster of the internet faded. What initially presented itself to be a gateway of freedom and expression instead had morphed into a jail cell and a cage. Emotional imprisonment courtesy of technology.
There’s a variety of reasons that the internet has bummed me out. Here are a few of them.
1) The internet has made me realize there really aren’t any people out there like me.
Before the internet I was certain there were thousands, maybe millions of people just like myself. People who felt the same music the way I felt it. People who organized their massive Berenstain Bear collections the same way I did. People who loved Nancy Drew, Big Macs, Madonna, and Sonic Youth. And didn’t drink or do drugs.
Through the internet I have met people with similar interests but it was a bummer to realize there aren’t tons of people who share the same exact mixture of interests. Naturally we never want to meet someone who is just like ourselves…but who wouldn’t want to meet someone at least 65%?
2) The internet reduces us all to a .jpeg that people quickly judge.
At first the prospect of online dating was exciting. Chat rooms were an online space to meet, talk, and exchange ideas. If you found someone in the chat room you connected with you could continue to converse in a private chat.
Chat rooms have gone the way of the horse and buggy. The new way to meet each other is through browsing “dating” sites. A photograph of ourselves is given exactly one second face time – a browsing person glances, judges, dismisses, and moves on. In my perusing of the net I do the same thing to other people. It’s how things are now.
In the new way we look for new friends/partners/dates the sound of a laugh, the tone of the voice, and even the construction of a sentence are no longer factors. We have reduced ourselves completely into a primal society where we are only interested in images. I’m fucked – I don’t photograph well.
3) As time goes on, we are expressing ourselves less and less on the internet.
I hate twitter. I miss the days of Live Journal where we wrote long rambling entries and spilled our guts to our virtual friends. When Live Journal was replaced by MySpace, our ten paragraph rants then became three paragraph blog posts.
With Facebook replacing MySpace, our three paragraphs were replaced by three sentence status updates. Now with Twitter, we are limited to expressing ourselves in less than two hundred characters. In no time flat we will be communicating with grunts again. So much for eloquence.
4) Internet’s creative society has really become like a vocal warm up: Me me me me me me me.
I miss being a musician on the internet in the 1990s. It was easy to promote yourself. There was a welcoming and accepting audience. If a song was posted, almost everyone you knew listened to it, commented on it, and responded.
Now on Facebook, with a hundred friends all begging you to hear their new song, read their poem, look at their picture, go to their event, sit on their face, it’s all canceling each other out to the point where we are burnt out. I have become a musician who is no longer a fan of musicians. Many times I have reached out via email to musicians who are excessively promoting themselves online. I felt very miffed when I wasn’t responded to – especially considering they had the time to repost their shitty music videos thirty times in a day. If we have all turned into a society of creative people whose focus is “look at me” but we aren’t willing to look at anyone else – we are just going to end up a bunch of people singing to ourselves in the mirror. Me and my mirror don’t get along very well.
5) People on the internet are plain old mean.
I hate message boards. If you ever want to be discouraged about humanity, take a few minutes out of your day to read through the comments on a news article or blog post. Unfortunately computers have given a means for people full of venom to spread their poison. I stay away from comments sections. To be exposed to how much ignorance, hate, and mean-spirit resides in people is something that’s not good for my soul. I made the mistake of reading through the comments on my own articles once. Big mistake.
After being with the internet for over 15 years I found that what works best for me is turning off the computer, opening the curtains, and watching airplanes.