(Written this past Saturday.)
Good morning, sunshines. It is currently 12:10 pm, and I am in a rather humorous state of twitchiness. Part of it’s the lack of sleep – my apartment has been invaded by fleas for the past few weeks, and last night I kept worrying they’d get in my bed and even half-dreamed about it, meaning I didn’t sleep a wink until sometime after 3. Then scumbag body, used to my 8 am wakeups for morning class, decided that 8:30 was a good time to wake. The other part, though, what I imagine is the major part, is my resolution of the day.
Okay, so we all know that Twitter is being stupid and has changed its policy on censorship, right? If not, plz to Google. They’re trying to do it in the best way possible, and I respect that, but doing a bad thing in the best way possible doesn’t make it good. So today some randomers on the intarwebs decided to hold a blackout protest, with random Twitterites like me pledging not to tweet today.
Twitter has kind of become my addiction, which is part of why I don’t blog as much – little point when most of what’d get said on this blog instead gets said on my feed. So I figured it might ease my resistance of microblogging’s allure – and provide an interesting experience – if today I just went entirely internet-free.
Thus the twitchiness. I am completely aware that I have a behavioral addiction to the internet. Not internet’ing is like spending an entire day without speaking or listening to anyone speak. It feels closed-off and bizarre. Like my entire wide world has been torn away, and all I’m left with is little Gainesville and a messy apartment and fleas.
Okay. So it’s not that bad. Mostly because I know that when I wake up tomorrow, I will let myself Internet once again. If I thought it were going to be a long parting, I’d probably be in mourning.
A great chunk of my twitchy is the lack of Twitter. I kind of live immersed in this mess of blurbs about other’s lives, connecting and sometimes not-connecting with people I’ve never met in person, almost but not quite as if I were living side-by-side with them. I tell them things and they tell me things and it feels beautifully connected, like being constantly in the presence of friends, even when I’m in the presence of naught but my beloved iPhone Kei-kun.
The other great chunk of my twitchy is the lack of information. No morning browse of the day’s news (granted, I’d have it if my Wall Street Journal subscription weren’t malfunctioning), other than my already-downloaded edition of this week’s Economist. Today I heard a hilarious but unbelievable story and wasn’t able to find out if it were true. And there are a million tiny things that I’ve just wanted to know that I haven’t been able to learn.
Okay. Maybe not a million. Still.
This has been an interesting experience. And one thing that it has taught me, in the whole four hours that have passed since I woke up, is that to love the internet is not a bad thing, not at all.
People idealize being offline. They poo-poo the mess of distractions, the social networks, the living glued to the screen. They treat it as an isolating creation, as if it personally punched human interaction in the face and stole its wallet. “We no longer know our neighbors!” they cry.
Yeah, fuck that. Sure, I’m a bit less distracted than normal… sort of. I didn’t spend an hour on Cracked today. I did spend an unknown period of time on a book. And no, one is not superior to the other.* In fact, Cracked is probably more educational than Locke Lamora, much as I love them both.
And being cut off from people, while perfectly tolerable for today, isn’t really tolerable in the long run. Very nearly my entire social sphere – both online-only and face-to-face – are people I’ve met because of the Internet. I have three close friends I regularly talk to that I met through non-internet things. Three. And for all three of them (even my roommate, which, okay, that doesn’t help my argument), most of our communication is online. Hell, if I went offline entirely, I wouldn’t be able to speak to Kuri again for years.
There’s nothing wrong with meeting people because of common interests instead of geographical location. And, really, that’s all there is to it.
So I shall survive my cut-off day today. Probably put myself through another cut-off day sometime in the future, just out of self-directed schadenfreude (no, seriously, you have no idea how hilarious I’m finding my own twitchy reaction to net dep). But this experience hasn’t Freed me, or taught me how I Don’t Need the Internet. If anything, it’s taught me how much the Internet provides for me, and what an incredible source of knowledge it is.
*On books: While I fucking adore books, treat them as my life obsession, and can’t really imagine even pulling off a conversation with someone who didn’t regularly read, I do not understand why people idealize books. Reading books isn’t actually superior to television or comics or anything. There’s just as high a percentage of mainstream trash books as there are mainstream trash TV shows and comics, and there’s just as low a percentage of utterly brilliant works of prose that will entirely change your lifeview as there are for TV and comics. Moreover, bound volumes of fiction are also not inherently superior to magazine articles, internet articles, fanfiction, weblit, etc. etc. and so forth. (They are, however, inherently superior to the crap people stick in the middle of comic books under the bizarre assumption that you picked up a comic so you could read prose.)
(So, how'd I do? I gave up on the no-internet by evening. It seemed pointless. I also then accidentally started posting to Twitter - no, seriously, I didn't even realize until 20 minutes in that I'd been posting because it's such a habit. Faaaaaail.)