The thing that bothers me most about the internet is that it provides the allusion that a place exists that has all the answers.
Sure, you can find many answers to many questions on the internet (whether they are correct answers is another matter), but I’m thinking more about those life questions that are, in essence, unanswerable. The ineffable aspects of the world and the worlds we create inside our heads. Or even answerable questions that require an environment opposite to the internet, namely a quiet look inward to our most individualized souls.
You may think that I’m a hypocrite, complaining about the internet and yet having a website and posting to a blog here. But I’ve been writing my whole life and the only thing that ever seemed to be missing from that rewarding hobby was an ability to share it, which the internet so easily and readily provides. So there’s the crux of it. I can complain about its faults and be thankful for its strengths. And if we reduce that to the question Is the internet good or bad? it would be unanswerable.
Admittedly, that is a loaded question. And it garners opinions. But the internet has no aversion to those questions. On the contrary, it could be argued that those types of questions illicit even more answers here on the web. Thus enabling someone to search and research endlessly with the possibility of never reaching any truth. In many cases, after a good ol’ fashioned internet deep-dive, an answer that we should’ve probably found introspectively, is perverted by the sway of others.
I often find myself drawn to the allure of the internet’s possible answers to daunting questions I have on a range of subjects, including many in the realms of Is this okay to think? and How should I handle this area of my life? and What would happen if I did this? The search often jumbles my thoughts, distracts me from my IRL duties and pleasures, and leaves me wanting, more confused than ever.
I have an antidote to the seduction. It is my diary (or journal). No matter how lost I’ve gotten in my labyrinth internet rabbit-holes, I’ve always been able to find myself again in freshly written pages of my diary. Sometimes a short entry will do, other times it takes days or weeks of circuitous rambling to get there. And still I feel guilt for the hours, electricity, broadband, and sanity wasted in the hope-spurred attempts to find a shortcut online for the many difficult realities that is living life.
I aspire to curb my fruitless internet searches altogether, but I doubt that I will as long as I have access to the internet. My curiosity is too strong, my hope too persistent, my dopamine-seeking brain too primitive. Because even amid all the hours that I waste, I do learn new things sometimes and that feels rewarding.
So here’s a question for you, Internet: how do I use you in a healthy way? Maybe one day scientists, sociologists, and psychologists will discover the right answer (or a right answer). In the meantime, I will struggle. (As much as I would like to attempt an internet-free home, at least for a little while, my husband won’t go for it.) I will struggle to find the balance between seeking advice, available at my fingertips and going on forever, and figuring things out for myself, however arduous it may be.