I read an amusing, beautiful, and wise article on Malcolm’s Round Table yesterday: The Internet is Drugs.
Malcolm R. Campbell wrote: As I sit here in the sunny kitchen of my father-in-law’s farmhouse, I’m going through withdrawal because the Internet does not exist here. On a typical morning, I would have checked e-mail (pot), looked at several news screens (cocaine) and read everything in my Facebook (meth) news feed.
My Facebook status would be a no-brainer: blitzed, spaced out, and higher than the summit of Mount Everest. I recall those old, fried-egg-in-a-skillet public service announcements: This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions? [Click here to read the rest of the article.]
Malcolm makes the very good point that on the internet, everything is instant gratification, whereas on the farm, everything moves slower, can’t move at the speed of light from one location to another, can’t give you the drug-like gratification one gets from the internet.
For me, the internet is a tranquilizer. It’s a quiet place (since the sound on my computer is turned off), and it quiets my mind. Grief brought me much confusion, not only because of the pain of losing my life mate/soul mate and the loneliness of struggling on by myself, but because of the eternal questions that haunt me.
A couple of days ago I wrote about the physiological changes that grief brings (Grief and Our Lizard Brain). Besides these physiological disturbances and the more commonly known psychological anguish, people who lose a life mate are subject to spiritual and philosophical traumas that upset our normal way of thinking. Death gives life a whole new perspective, and so we are compelled to rethink everything we thought we knew, everything we held dear. Some people find a deeper comfort in religion while others are assailed by new doubts. I found myself with a multitude of questions.
Who am I now that I am no longer part of our survival unit? If he is in a better place, why am still here? If life is a gift, why was it taken from him? In the presence of life, what is the meaning of death? In the presence of death, what is the meaning of life? So many questions!
Yet on the internet, there is no question of who am I. I know who I am. I can see me on Facebook. I can Google me. I can check me out on my website, on my publisher’s website, on Amazon. And I know why I’m here. I’m here to make an impression so maybe people will read my blogs and perhaps buy my books. I don’t need to question the meaning of life and death, because the internet is eternal. (Or at least the electrons are.) As long as there is an internet, there I am.
Walking out in the desert in the real world brings a semblance of peace, but along with that peace come the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life and death? Where do I go from here?
As my grief fades a bit, some of the bigger questions are fading, too, and I’m mostly left with the last question. Where do I go from here? On the internet, I am always “here.” In real life, I will need to relocate, to find a place to start over. But that question, for now, is as unanswerable as all the others that haunt me, so here I am, on the internet, where there is an answer for everything. And if there isn’t, I’m too tranquilized to care.