I love you. There, I said it.
You have changed my life drastically over the years. I have a place now to go for community for all the strange and wonderful things I love and am interested in. I can find sewing groups and communities based around just wanting a safe community to talk about anything and everything. I can find people who inspire me professionally and I can share things I find interesting, whether or not anyone else reads them. I can be exposed to ideas and knowledge that would have been unthinkable before the internet (because I would not have paid for magazine subscriptions nor would magazines have published many of the wonderful things I have read).
Internet, you have allowed me to encounter people who do amazing things and actually engage with their work by leaving them comments. I can take my work with me wherever I go (as long as I have wifi or at least 3G) and I can share a document and not worry that my collaborator and I are overwriting one another. At least I can do that now – let’s not talk about the last time I did that and had to try to merge changes from two different documents. I can track down people working in fields I am interested in and even read some of their work without having to go anywhere. I can even try to contact them although they may not get back to me… but some of them do and some of them are wonderful. I can check on my assignments even if i don’t have my paper syllabus with me and then share the article I just found with my class, with my friends, or with the entire world (if they bother to look at it).
I can learn so many things, Internet. I can do so many things. I can share my passions, look things up faster than it would ever have been possible to do before, regardless of the resources at my library. I don’t have to wait for inter-library loans to get me a photocopy of an article that our university doesn’t subscribe to. I can learn to knit or unclog my tub drain or properly cite an article and have it at my fingertips.
Internet, can we talk about something? You are an enabler. Sure, you enable me to do some pretty awesome things. But you also enable me to waste a lot of time. It is so easy to follow something down a rabbit hole and lose track of what I was originally working on. It is easy to open another tab, “just for a second,” and end up watching funny cat videos for 20 minutes or checking on Facebook. How I spend my time is now completely in my hands.
I have always had the choice to be distracted. I could pick up a novel, turn on the tv, doodle.
There are just so many options now. If I don’t turn off notifications, I can be intentionally distracted over and over. Ads, suggested videos, all of them want me to check out other things and follow the rabbit down the hole.
Again, I could always do that. It’s just so much easier now. Everything is at my fingertips which means I could be doing anything, looking at anything, checking on anything (that package I ordered, movies playing nearby, who Tweeted about what, a funny Trump meme). Angus makes a good point on his blog: It’s up to us.
Internet, I know that isn’t actually your fault. You have become a haven for information, for connection, for being ourselves (unless you feed the trolls). We are the ones who choose to be endlessly distracted. We are the ones who enable notifications, check email every few minutes, let ourselves run down the rabbit holes, and drive ourselves ragged trying to keep up. We cannot keep up. We have to give up our fear of missing out. We will miss things. We have always missed things. That is okay. If it is really important, it will come up again, someone will mention it, we will be directly told. But Internet, that isn’t your job.
It’s ours. We are still human and we have choices to make.
So let’s go make some good ones.
(and watch these adorable meerkat babies!)