Early this morning as I was beginning to wake up, for some reason it occurred to me that I had given a lot of time the evening before, time that would have been better spent on just about anything else, trolling Twitter, Facebook, and some blogs for news to get righteously outraged about. I wondered why, and resolved to do better.
Michael B Dougherty described the experience this way: “Do you lie awake in bed more often these days, unable to sleep, scrolling through Facebook or Twitter on your phone, trying to ignore signs of stress? Perhaps a faint taste of acid in your mouth? . . . Does it make you want to spend more money, or write yourself more reminders to do “self-care?” Maybe you suspect that if anyone else cares about your self it is only to notice that deep down you’re just as much of a hateful loser as they are?”
It’s a useful essay, somewhat of a mea culpa, and I think a sincere one, about his contribution to the problem, since, as he confesses in the title, “I write on the internet.” He diagnoses the problem pretty well, and gives a spot on anecdote from his own experience, that is so spot on to my own experience I cringed as I read it.
The internet doesn’t coddle you in a comforting information bubble. It imprisons you in an information cell and closes the walls in on you by a few microns every day. . . .
An example: I’m worried about the culture on college campuses. Maybe you’re not, but I am. The rash of near-riots against right-wing speakers was troubling enough. But the internet wasn’t satisfied with the level of anxiety that might inspire in me and it quickly delivered to me dozens of stories about an obscure opinion piece written by an obscure group of college students from a college that had been, until that day, rather obscure to me. These people I’d never heard of wrote an editorial which argues that the concept of “objective truth” is propaganda for white supremacy. . . .
In an age in which print journalism reigned supreme, no one would have known about, heard of, or been troubled by this juvenile brain fart unless one of its authors ran for the U.S. Senate decades later. . . . But on the social networks where I used to enjoy looking at pictures and doings of my former classmates, there was this story, waiting to inject a little more of that acid taste in my mouth. . . .
I tried to remind myself that this was trivial bullshit, and didn’t effect anything in the world but pointless outrage. But of course that didn’t help. The poison of it flowed through me. My mind lit up with the desire to see the hands of a silent and awful deity plunging into the green plushy sward of Earth, pulling its tectonic plates apart, and shaking them until all human life and evidence of our civilization is dispersed into the outer oblivion of space. . . .
All of this occurred to me in less than a millisecond. And then I scrolled to the next dumbass news event my friends were sharing.
I am also a dumbass. I am pondering a nice Luddite solution, though it’s going to be difficult and require a lot of creativity. God help me. God help us all.
Read the whole thing, please.