Ok, so before I write anything else, let me be the first to acknowledge the complete irony of me writing about this topic on a BLOG, which will then be linked to my TWITTER, and I’ll probably post it on FACEBOOK, all of which people will only be able to access via the INTERNET.
And let me also say that this post isn’t the precursor to me setting my router on fire and never logging in again. I’ll openly admit that I also kind of love the internet. I’m on it daily (as are you, I’m assuming), and can’t exactly imagine my life without it (although to even write those words makes me cringe. Uuugh, I hate making grand sweeping statements that somehow undermine the true necessities of life!)
But if you can stay with me for a few minutes, and overlook those two points, I really do want to hash out some of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for quite some time.
I think I’m just growing weary of this instant access online world that we are all a part of. I can still remember the first time I saw a commercial for the internet – it was a scene at a party, where a guy was trying to pick up a girl and asked for her phone number, and she hands him a piece of paper. When he opens it, he finds an email address written down. I was probably 13 or 14, and I remember thinking “there is NO way I’ll ever have that. I don’t even UNDERSTAND what the internet is.” The best part is, I don’t even think this commercial was for a specific email server, it was literally just an ad for the world wide web. My how things have changed.
Truthfully, I don’t really know the best way to articulate my thoughts, so I figured I’d just put them down in list form.
Reason # 1: I’m not entirely sure we were ever intended to have access to this much contact with people.
When I think about facebook, I am often reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes (Chapter 3) where it talks about there being a season for everything. And that includes friendships/relationships with others. We were never intended to have ongoing interaction with everyone we have ever met. The internet (not just facebook) has given us a false sense of how many people we can truly maintain relationships with. When we can have access to pictures of their lives, instant messaging and the like, all of the sudden people who naturally would have fallen away years ago, keep in touch. Is this a wonderful gift of the internet? ABSOLUTELY. But can it place on us a burden to be a better friend, or to feel guilty about not keeping up with as many people? Yes, I think so.
Reason # 2: Information Overload.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at my computer to just check my email accounts, and facebook and twitter, and all of the sudden find myself down a rabbit hole of open tabs on my browser. People are constantly posting links to interesting articles, videos and blog posts, and it’s just SO EASY to click away! I watched a video about an octopus yesterday that can literally camouflage into any colour or texture it comes in contact with. This, people, was SUPER interesting. Also? Something I never would have seen if it wasn’t for the link I saw a few times over on facebook. Again, I’m not really bashing access to so much information – I truly do believe this has been a gift to our culture. But I also think we (generally speaking) have gotten careless. Careless with our time, and with the things that fill our heads. Even good, good things may be taking up brain space, emotional energy and our time that really don’t need to be.
Reason # 3: Miley Cyrus
Oh c’mon – you had to know this one was coming. I can not BELIEVE the internet uproar over this girl lately. And just as quickly as thousands of people posted their disdain over her choices, quick on their heels were all the response posts about how judgemental those people were being. You see, the internet has created a world where every opinion is allowed to be heard, and we are invited to judge, and then judge our judgements, and then for good measure, read ONE MORE ARTICLE that has us feeling bad about both judging and then judging our judgements. THis, just tires me out.
Reason # 4: Miley Cyrus
Yep, you read that right. She gets 2 whole list postings here. Because just yesterday, I saw a facebook post about her newest music video for Wrecking Ball, and how appalling it was. And so naturally, I had to check it out myself. But my sole reason for checking it out was so that I could be appalled myself. And I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that. (Who am I to judge?). And so, to the point in reason # 3, there I was, choosing to take 5 minutes of my life to intentionally seek out judgement via a click. But also – to Reason # 4: it really was appalling. And that made me sad. It made me sad that anyone of any age could have access to this video, which, in my mind, borders on pornography. And it made me sad for the students I lead, knowing that likely, they all will see it, and although it won’t shock them – it will be something that they have instant access to look at should sexual lust arise – which it will. And that just opens the door wide open on this reason why I’m kind of tired of the internet. It is FAR to easy to find whatever it is we want to see, whether we should want to see it or not. (and if you haven’t caught on yet, this isn’t actually about Miley Cyrus, goodness knows the media/internet wouldn’t even need her to have this same issue exist)
Reason # 5: Not sure what to title this one – I think it might upset some people.
I sometimes wonder if we are wasting our capacity to love and care for others on the internet. (See? Kind of a touchy subject). Now, don’t get me wrong – SO MUCH GOOD is done through the internet. We can learn more about those in need in the world around us, we can donate supplies, money,etc in a heartbeat, we can write a “thinking of you” email at 3 in the morning to a sick friend, etc, etc etc. But I really got thinking about this, this past May. For those of you that are Canadian, you’ll likely recall the heart-wrenching story of Tim Bosma. And with SO MUCH THANKS to the internet – the world could gather together, support his widow, and mourn together. And exactly at the same time, I had been following a blog of someone I don’t know (but friends of mine knew them) who chronicled the life of their sick little girl with a heart defect, who after 14 months on this earth, passed away. And again, because of the internet, this blog literally reached millions of people around the world who prayed, wrote cards, sent gifts, and supported this family in grief. (And I still read this blog and pray for this family)
And actually, on the same day in May, I read the blog post where this mother announced that their little girl had died the night before, and I wept. And that afternoon, I watched the televised funeral of Tim Bosma, and I shed a few more tears.
But it got me thinking. Is my purpose to mourn for these people and yet know nothing about the hurts of my neighbour next door? Am I called to spend 2 hours watching this funeral and not call up a friend in need?
I REALLY hesitate to write that -because I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to sound pious, and truthfully, I don’t think this is a black and white question – there is TONS of gray to sort through. And I really hope I don’t offend, particularly those who know these families personally – but I do want to ask the question. Have I allowed the internet (the things it’s given me access to) to re-order my priorities of care and love?
Ok – so there is the brain dump of the night. Would love your feedback and thoughts, which yes, I realize, will also come to me via the internet. :)