Internet, we need to talk

Don’t worry, I’m not breaking up with you… at least not yet. Since I’m classically not proficient at relationships in general, that would be a long, drawn out process that may take more energy than I have.

Then again, talking this out might be exhausting as well.

It’s not your fault. You’re just doing your job – a job that we gave you. Wasn’t it so much easier when all you had to was show us the information we programmed you to provide? Wouldn’t you love it if we just backed up, remained mute and let you do what you were designed to do?

Then we had to interfere. We had to have a voice and we needed to use you as a tool to connect. Also, we needed our information/data/connection to be instant. So we built you to be stronger, faster and bigger. And we needed to be able to take you anywhere so we built devices to help us ensure you’d never be far away.

But you’re machinery and networking. You don’t have feelings or consciousness (at least not yet). WE do. So as a result, you are whatever we make of you; all of our nefarious schemes and plots are driven through you.

Sure, the positive possibilities are endless: my son doesn’t need a shelf full of Encyclopedia Britannicas. The vast expanse of study aids available to the kiddo is unbelievable and I envy him the knowledge he has access to. Equally, however, is the vast expanse of nonsense. Thankfully, he’s not interested in the nonsense, but that’s because I got lucky. Or maybe it’s in his nature to strictly avoid all things in which I am interested, including my passion for you, Internet. Oh sure, he uses you. He’s memorized and his love for Wikipedia is large. His entertainment is often gleaned from YouTube and I’m alright with that.

I have some major areas of concern:

The death of face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice communication.

I text, I email, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I read my news online. I rarely go to gatherings, parties or bars and the only person I ever really talk to on the phone is my mother. This opens the door wide for misunderstandings. No matter how long you’ve been communicating digitally and no matter how well you think you can ‘read between the lines’, there will always been those times that a combination of the way you write and the perceptions of the recipient does not work. A lesson that I learned painfully is that sarcasm doesn’t translate well.

Despite the transparency currently required to ‘rent’ social media property, it’s still anonymous enough that many feel quite comfortable saying whatever crosses their minds. Sometimes, this is very good, but many times, it’s not; it’s negative, hurtful and damaging to themselves and to others.

Cyberbullying: it’s not just for kids. Why is it that so many people forget that whatever you put out there digitally is there forever? It’s simple: don’t post or email anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read or see. It’s a great rule and it works.

What happens if the world loses power?

How long can we sustain on the power of the sun? I watch TV so I know someone really smart will figure out a way to harness energy for at least a short period of time, but with all of my money, memories and communication wrapped up in you via my various devices, I suspect I’d suffer, at a bare minimum, an intense boredom and I don’t rule out the possibility of starvation, sleep deprivation or even insanity. Do we all even remember how to carry on a regular conversation?

What happens if you take over? I saw the movies, how impossible is it, really?

One word: Skynet. Eek!

I’m not advocating a digital-free life. Change is good and I love technology, but I can see how too much can be… well… too much. Like our attention spans, our propensity for moderation is sadly waning.

All that taken into account, Internet, I do not feel as if I need to sever ties (can you imagine how difficult that would be for someone who walks around with two different iPhones and carries a laptop everywhere?). But I think it may be prudent to spend less time together. For my part, I plan to see other entities, starting with a good book or two. I’m confident, though, that you won’t even notice I’m gone.

Photo by: Luke Wroblewski under the