I wouldn’t be the first to write an exposé on the dangers of the Internet. Dangers with far-reaching territories and easy access. The web is an all-mans land of unburied bait, waiting fall of finger and consequential click. I read yesterday, in an internet article, that the average adult spends 10 hours a day consuming online media. I spent twenty minutes reading that article. It was long and didn’t make me feel good. And from that feeling I apparently learned nothing because what followed was: several Vox pieces detailing the most recent horrors of this election, the Pulitzer site for something “lighter,” a check of Instagram for new dog pics, a photo essay on Syrian refugees (still "a thing," guys) and finally, a Twitter fight over how to properly love Bernie Sanders. And that was just the first hour of my day. Who knows what other black holes I’d fall into by noon!
Point being, the Internet has me in a fatal headlock with no countdown buzzer or referee to end the fight. It’s not even really a fight. I give in willingly, happily, eyes glazing as some optometrist’s wallet fattens off the crazy squint I’ve developed as a result of near constant consumption. I wish I were exaggerating, but it’s true. I’ve dug my death-hovel. It has a power strip and excellent wifi. It has little light and one purpose—for me, Lucifer’s favorite angel, to lay down in its bed of tweets, take my final breath mid-infographic gasp, and watch, suspended above my corpse, as it shakes with rigor mortis. Informed as hell.
But maybe what’s more gasp-worthy is this: I don’t need to know everything. I don’t need to see everything. Kardashian beef to electoral beef to that beef your cousin posted on Instagram (I have seen every living human’s Instagram), I am better off with radio silence. I can at the very least loosen the grip, cut my hours in a half. Something around an even five. Which feels doable, or at the least, aspirational.
I’ve yet to find an exercise more exhausting than living in the online space. Its effects are mind numbing when time is not dealt in moderation. There’s no better excuse for having contributed nothing, created nothing, than a day spent slopping at the troughs of my several online feeds. There’s a difference between seeking inspiration on the web’s great vision board and procrastinating my own endeavors in the name of someone else’s. I’d be better off sitting under a tree and waiting to be knocked in the head by overrated fruit. Apples are so lame, guys.
Yesterday, I planned to spend my downtime working on the creative projects I’ve had floating about my to-do list for the past several months. They’ve remained uncrossed-off in the face of other responsibilities, namely making rent, but worse, they’ve been obscured by the haze that surrounds my brain after a day spent almost entirely on a device. And what did I do yesterday? I read every published word, soaked in every posted photo, and collapsed. I can’t have that anymore. My brain will melt. And that would be a mess. What orifice would suffer? My ears? My nose? I do not want to vomit my noodle.
This isn’t an aha moment or a letter taped to the internet’s door. But hopefully it’s a promise to myself. A promise to regulate hours spent online. A promise to hold close through hard times (after naps), while making obvious exceptions for the sake of good humor and health (award shows, famous butts revealed, interviews with psychopaths, artful shade, Ted Cruz photo-shopped defecating snakes). But still, a promise.
So here's to mornings spent not with a stranger's sister's prom pictures, but with a good book. To lunch breaks editing script outlines, not hate-reading an op-ed on Hillary Clinton's likability. To getting some damn sleep. And for the sake of all things good and holy, stop sharing pictures of your dogs. I cannot resist them. Their little paws. Their little paws!