Once upon a time, in a faraway era I’ll call the 1990s, you had to walk to your computer, turn it on, and search for information on the internet. Then we got laptops, so our computers could travel with us. Now we have iPhones and Blackberries so we can have instant access to information and communication in our pockets, wherever we find ourselves.
Having a personal online presence seems to be a necessity for everyone in the 21st century, from elementary schoolers to Baby Boomers. MySpace gave way to Facebook, often called “Face-Crack,” because of its addictive properties. Cyber-stalking may well be the next Olympic sport. And Twitter, that festering bastion of narcissism, is increasing in popularity.
Tween star Miley Cyrus recently created a firestorm when she deleted her Twitter account. Shortly afterward, she gave an interview to a Chicago radio station and said, “Twitter should just be banned from this universe. You don’t end up living your life and you end up saying things that really is (sic) no-one else’s business.” Preach on, Miley.
I’ve seen “tweets” and “status updates” that were clearly sent from people who were driving, as well as from hospital delivery rooms. Really? There is nothing, as in not one goddamned piece of information, that is so crucial that it must be “tweeted” while driving a vehicle. And if I were in labor and saw my husband posting information about my cervix to the online faceless masses, I’m pretty confident his electronic device would have to be surgically removed from his ass.
Now, I’m not a Luddite. While I can rail on and on about the perils of internet addiction, I consider the internet to be a hugely powerful resource. When we log on with intention and purpose, we literally have the world at our fingertips.
But how often do we really log on with intention and purpose? Online, instant gratification is the order of the day. It always starts innocently enough: you want to make cookies, but only have brown sugar in the house. Is brown sugar interchangeable with regular granulated sugar? Google will know! The next thing you know, you’re listening to D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar. “Ooh, D’Angelo. I wonder what happened to him,” you say to yourself. So then you google “D’Angelo” and wind up spending half an hour on Perez Hilton.com, awash in a sea of licentious gossip and self-loathing.
The internet has, without question, sped things up for all of us. And, for all its flaws, the internet has the power to connect us in countless ways. From online dating to social networking to blogs that inspire, infuriate, and amuse us, we can reach out and be reached more than ever before. This is, as Martha Stewart would say, a good thing.
But after evaluating my own internet habits, I am newly resolved to log on less. I’m challenging myself to make my virtual connections more meaningful and mindful. Who knew? Miley Cyrus and I have something in common.