The internet. Hundreds of our friends at the tip of our fingertip, 1000s of acquaintances a virtual poke away and millions of strangers who may come into my world with the creation of a witty hashtag. Such is the connectivity of the whole venture it is a wonder why we bother meeting in person anymore! Instead of bumping into the girl of my dreams on the street I can just bluff my way through a few noughts and crosses on Tinder and win a few hearts. Instead of going to the cinema to watch Joaquin Phoenix mumble a bunch of words I can download him onto my laptop and still not understand a word of what he is saying! (I really do love Joaquin, fantastic actor, he just enunciates in a truly unique way.) Instead of catching up with my friends in person, I can just chuck them a few messages on Facebook or Whatsapp or Twitter or Instagram or Linkdin or Snapchat or I could just send them a text message, an email or fuck it, I could even just shoot them a FaceTime and have myself a glimpse of their 5 o’clock shadow without having to leave the house! And hey, instead of actually booking flights to Bangladesh, Barbados or Brunei, I can just go to the myriad of travel websites and forums and witness the experiences of those who have been there, done that and bought the T-shirt. With friends like the internet, do I really need real friends at all? Everything is right there on my screen, on my phone, in my bedroom, in my bathroom, even on my fridge. Shopping, entertainment, books, movies, television, public debate, money, power, a career, a car, a wife, a husband, a sister, a brother, a family, a country, a world and a universe. Thank God I’ve got the Internet.
The Internet is the best friend you can have. The Internet teaches you to hold onto as many friends as you can for as long as you can, even the ones who would rather watch a series of unfortunate motor accidents than actually come to see you in person. Sure, you probably should commit to a smaller circle of buddies who would consider giving you a kidney or even a chunk of their own liver to give you another three months of pernicious binge drinking with the lads but the Internet allows you to extend your web of connections to the endth degree. Remember Billy, your best friend in Kindergarten?? Well, he’s got a job shearing sheep and he’s married to his cousin. Without the Internet we would never know about Billy’s wife Lisa having a cold sore and an itchy rash from sharing a bed with their flea-ridden dog. We also wouldn’t have the ability to feel better about ourselves when we search the pages of the lost souls who went to our high school or the lack of direction the school bully has over his/her life.
And yet, you haven’t replied to your best friend’s text from two days ago in which he questions your loyalty to him. Also, you’ve forgotten your dad’s birthday, your grandma misses you and your mood is spiralling out of control. How can this be? Why am I so glum? Surely one of my other friends can reply on my behalf and Mum’s already bought Dad my half of the present… Let’s face it, Grandma doesn’t even remember my name anymore. I also received like 25 compliments on my selfie upload today. Thank God I still have the Internet and my 1000 Facebook friends.
It’s 10PM, I’m not quite awake enough to get up and watch the stars and I’m not quite sleepy enough to let the stars watch me. A few clicks and I’m away, watching my favourite episode of Seinfeld for the 423rd time. ‘Master of my domain baby!’ I’m the master of my own destiny. I can watch whatever I want in the privacy of my own Queen sized bed. Ironically my defence is slipping and I’m closer to becoming the jester in my own castle. Or should I say, the ‘jerker’ in my own castle. Who am I kidding, there’s no need to be subtle about pornography. Porn, porn, porn. Without it we would all be lonely right? Having to actually convince each other that we should just take our clothes off and enjoy the scent of a woman/man for real. That’s overrated.
But let’s not get distracted by the whole Youjizz, redtube, objectifyingwomen.org and heyheyitsabitofharmlessfun.edu.au craze. It’s just a passing phase, they said. The kids will get over the whole act of touching themselves, they promised. And yet here we are, still bombing on about the morals of pornography as the market share of free internet porn gets bigger and the volume of unpaid amateur performers expands by the hour as our sperm counts get considerably lower. It doesn’t matter, we can do what we want in the privacy of our own bedrooms, right? Even if it is just watching our own collective happiness get sapped as we recklessly and indiscriminately… fap. I’m sorry, I have to be crude to get my point across here. We should be allowed to download entire seasons of television programs because actors are generally rich. We should be able to rip album after album of up and coming artists because they make all their money on their tours anyway! And hey, plagiarism of one’s individual work is a defunct concept. Free sharing for everyone! Share and share alike, even if the 100,000 likes you are receiving on your Facebook page are only there because you posted a few beautiful words from some dead poet without giving her any sort of recognition. That 119,347th like might just be the like to kickstart your career in being a
over under appreciated cockhead cokehead glorified promo model for products nobody really needs.
Let’s not worry about the actors in theatres busting their gut for 25 people, the bands who play the rooms that housing developers eye greedily from their apartments and that dead poet who slipped deep into the abyss long before she died because her overactive mind led to her greatest strength becoming the weakness that conquered her spirit. Thank God I still have the internet, my 1000 Facebook friends and my unlimited downloads.
You can really get tired of yourself sometimes. Tired of having to deal with the same bullshit that goes through your head, the same old problems that seem to plague your life and the same reflection you see everyday in the mirror. Some days I could kiss my belt and then head a little lower to celebrate my being. Other days I just really want to, dare I say it, belt myself with that said belt. It’s frustrating because we are all tarred with the same brush of genome being passed down through generations which could lead to infidelity tossed from the top of the coconut tree to the soft sand below. Or a powerful social anxiety, or worse, the destiny written in the blood of a hereditary disease such as Huntington’s disease.
You can’t beat genetics and you can’t beat the system. You don’t get the choice. You are welcomed into the world one day and dealt a hand. It could be a royal flush or it could be a 3 high. You can’t bet money on it either, you’ve just got to go along with the randomness of the whole situation and pretend it is a game. Some people treat it as a game that has to be won, others just spend their Simoleons and enjoy the ride. The Internet allows me to laugh at every option other people take, be it a quick ride to the morgue or a rampant escalation to infamous outlaw. Perhaps they just like to watch the world burn or post selfies of their latest haircuts. Some individuals like to gloat about their latest trips, others just want those around them to feel as beautiful and free as they currently do. The options are endless. The world is our oyster, the internet is our king! And no matter what they choose to do, there will always be the hecklers, the haterzzzzz, the killjoys, the gullible, the bullies and the brainless. Keeping people accountable, strengthening us individually as they try to pull us down. Thank God I still have the internet, my 1000 Facebook friends, my unlimited downloads and my Youtube comments.
But step back. While I consider my internet, my access all areas pass to people’s personal lives, my opportunities to download whatever I want, whenever I want for absolutely nothing and the chance to keep people accountable for every little choice they make, consider the implications that come with it. Consider the fact that perhaps you’ve only spoken to your friends via the expansive, endless tunnel of synapses without actually touching their hands, witnessing the strain in his forehead when I frustrate him and the gawky grin I receive when I tell a funny joke. Consider the fact that you forget the sound of your own grandmother’s voice. Consider the fact that you’re an expert on every sexual position despite the fact that you’re still a virgin. Consider the fact that your new favourite band might be playing down the street tonight and you’re still keeping up with the fucking Kardashians. Consider the fact that you’ve abused a 10 year old kid on a video because he spelt the word ‘pneumonia’ wrong. Consider the fact that you’ve refreshed your profile page 15 times in the past 10 minutes for one new post from a woman celebrating the purchase of a new toaster. Consider the fact that you have 1000 Facebook friends and whilst 200 of them posted ‘HB’ on your wall, only three of them called you up on your birthday. Consider the fact that you’re looking at travel photos, a travel website and a travel blog with $5000 in the bank and you still can’t justify leaving your casual job behind and jumping on the first plane ride tomorrow. Consider the fact that the Internet, for all the remarkable things it does, is making you feel pretty damn lonely.
Whilst it enriches our existence with ubiquitous access to trends, current events, tips, entertainment, opinion pages, the arts, the things to do, the things to see, the things to be, the things to want!!!, at the very same time it saps us of the essence of, well, everything. Our spontaneity, our anticipation for something real, our desires to be fulfilled. Take this for example…
1) You book tickets to see Arcade Fire. You decide to look up setlists. That shred of mystery that made your stomach feel scrambled in anticipation immediately loses its power and the whole concert isn’t quite as exciting. 2) You message a girl from the remote internet village and take an hour to draft it only for her to reply with a redundant answer and no intention to actually meet up with you. 3) You check every social media app on your phone and find nothing has changed. You check them again to make sure. Again, nothing has blinked. Each of these makes you feel unfulfilled and slightly empty.
You haven’t gone into an event underprepared and realised that every little kick, step, lunge and twirl feels so much more natural and enlightening. You haven’t approached a girl reading ‘The Short History on Nearly Everything’ and noticed her amazing eyelashes or her unique nose and just thrown yourself into an uncertain conversation and you haven’t called your best friend and told him to drop everything and jump into a car for the weekend to Radio Nowhere. Instead, you envy everyone, you feel dirty and unkempt and know far too much about people you’ve never met.
I’m not saying that real life is a walk in the park and every day you are going to meet a beautiful person who changes your life. Far from that. I’m simply hypothesising that avoiding being placed in situations where we are uncomfortable and out of place is setting ourselves up for a life where we are smothered by interaction that is not real, that is not truthful, that is most notably, not human. To be human we need to acknowledge that we will make mistakes and we will feel alone from time to time. But to feel alone in the natural sense of the word is to always discover who we truly are as people. We are all complex creatures with different motivations, ideals, attitudes, wants and desires. To clump us all into the same network would be akin to throwing us into the same pond and watching us suffocate on each other’s desperation.
Connections should be special and feel human, not forced upon us. How will we ever learn about each other if we don’t acknowledge how complex human socialisation is? We’re not meant to all be best friends just as much as we are not meant to automatically consider those around us our enemies and we’re not meant to be connected to everyone just as we are not meant to be an island, separating from our fellow being. We are supposed to connect with others but in ways where we are not crafting ways to appear more interesting or painting ourselves in the most positive life.
We are more connected than ever and yet we are so disconnected from each other. We are envious of those who are succeeding in this game and always seeking to distinguish ourselves from the run of the mill to prove that we are worthy. We are connected to strangers we never spoke to at school and yet we can’t talk to those around us who hold the same interests because we are so distracted by our phones, laptops and IPods. We are technologically mature and yet socially insecure. We have so many faces to smile at and yet we can feel so very lonely.
If I haven’t explained myself well enough, this should make reading my blog worth your while.