When The Internet Makes You Mad
I can’t tell you how many days I’ve woken up in a pretty good mood, only to log into Facebook or Twitter, and have that mood completely turned on its head.
Maybe it was a headline. It could have been a smart remark from a ‘friend’. Sometimes it’s something as innocent as a picture of a friend lounging at a beach somewhere. Maybe it’s just me, but seeing a friend lounging on the beach an hour or so before I have to go to work isn’t my idea of ‘uplifting’. Whatever it may be on any given morning, it’s a very rare occasion that I log on first thing without regretting it a half hour later.
Yet I keep logging on.
I’m addicted to the hit.
It’s that for every 25 instances of the internet making me feel lousy, there’s that one shining moment when the world seems to become a little bit clearer — when that one post that I needed to see is right there in front of me. It’s like golf. I’m terrible at golf. It’s not even that I’m terrible at it; it’s worse than that. It’s that I do well to even make contact with the ball most of the time. More often than not, I’m just swinging at air. Even so, I find myself clumsily hitting a good shot every now and then, and the elation that accompanies those rare moments gives me the fuel to trudge on.
Until I just get too discouraged to enjoy myself any longer.
Until I rip up the scorecard, toss all of my golf clubs, and slit the tires on my golf cart.
You know, figuratively.
Why do I keep logging on when I can feel a very real heaviness settling on me that is so closely connected to me hitting that Refresh button that it might as well be one and the same.
And this is just a personal thing, but I find Facebook to be a lot more infuriating than Twitter, or other social networks where I don’t personally know many people. Facebook is, by design, full of people you actually know in real life — people you may see at church, or at the grocery store. I’m not going to see the vast majority of my Twitter timeline in real life ever, which is FINE. I guess it’s that smart comments from strangers are just smart comments from strangers, while smart comments from friends and family members feel a whole lot different. They introduce an incredibly unnecessary tension into a very real relationship. I get so carried away, and then it’s like WOW I DID NOT WANT TO ARGUE ABOUT GUN CONTROL WITH MY COUSIN TODAY. Some conversations are fine, but some of them go too far, and all it takes is one word. If you were sitting in a room with that person, there’s no way you’d talk to them that way. Who would even want to? You’d exchange niceties, and would be driving full-throttle in the opposite direction of introducing tension into a real relationship over something people are mad about on the internet.
SPEAKING OF PEOPLE BEING MAD ON THE INTERNET.
People are selling outrage these days. I call them ‘outrage merchants’, and they’re everywhere — like rats, roaches, and STDs. Outrage has become very profitable in this new everyone-is-an-activist world, and every side of every argument is peddling it like knockoff designer accessories on Times Square. And best of all, it’s completely free! (HA)
I’m pretty comfortable opining that there is not one opinion on this earth that a person could share on Twitter that wouldn’t spark outrage from some corner of the spectrum. Now, let me admit that I love Twitter. It’s the one social network that I don’t feel myself needing to take a break from. For whatever reason, it’s not heavy for me. That being said, I know that Twitter is a tool. Some of us use it to shitpost. Russians use it to meddle in elections. Activists use it to mobilize. Most people use it to just broadly correct people all the time (amirite?).
I’m rambling. Back to the topic at hand.
Shit. I forgot what I was going to say.
I’ve become an old man yelling at the clouds.
What I’ll say is to pay attention to how the internet is affecting you mentally. Pay attention to how obsessively you’re checking it. Pay attention to whether you’re using IT, or whether IT is using you. Pay attention to your heart, and pay attention to what really matters to you. Don’t let the outrage machine distract you. You’re here for a reason, and you’re only here for a little while.
Most of all, don’t let the internet make you mad. Just turn that shit off, man.
You’ll thank me later.