First off, I want to thank everyone for their support on my "People are Cruel" post. You guys are wonderful. Thank you for reading. You've helped me to realize that you just can't let the assholes of this world get you down.
Speaking of assholes, night before last I went to a panel at The Kitchen hosted by N+1 on the "Internet." The talk was a retraction (of sorts) on their piece in Issue 5 about how the Internet is basically destroying civilization. I went to the reading to offer moral support to one of my friends, but I also went because (duh) I am a blogger, so it felt appropriate. Also, N+1 (as of late) has been growing on me. My only criticism that remains is that they need to get more women on staff, and those women need to be a) not just interns, and b) intelligent and articulate.
I am, like most people in the non-third world, I think, addicted to the internet. I was born into the Internet age (i.e. post 1980) and survived the tremendous popularity of AOL IM and chat rooms. Nowadays, I stick mainly to blogs, facebook, and gmail. But I will tell you: the internet terrifies me.
Although I use facebook mainly to keep in touch with my friends, I find that it has a remarkable effect on the way I perceive my relationships. If someone neglects to invite me to an event, but invites my friends, I can find out. And I don't even want to go into what facebook will do to a romantic relationship, or how much pressure it puts on each party to define their connection: it's a very dangerous site. Ever since the implementation of the News Feed, which (appropriately) came into being literally the day after my boyfriend of two years dumped me over the phone, facebook has keep me awake at night. Even after I leave the computer, I find myself trying to interpret people's behavior on facebook. As if interpreting people in real life wasn't difficult enough.
So, I think the editors (and friends) of N+1 have a point that the Internet induces shame and anxiety and may ultimately cause the downfall of civilization. That said, most of this "bad behavior" on the Internet (and here I'm talking about shit-talking people on blogs, or leaving nasty comments) comes from what I like to call KKK-effect (because I can't remember the official term from AP Psychology). We're hidden on the internet. The screen acts as a mask we can wear to shirk from emotional responsibility. The same goes for text messaging. Why talk to someone when you can just avoid them completely? And the "Internet" acts as a sheet that covers us all. If our activities are suspect, or unpleasant, we can just use the excuse, "Oh, but it's just the internet. I said that on the internet. Who cares?"
All said, the internet does offer me solace. I love getting comments on this blog, and I have to say my heart does a little jump of joy anytime someone tags a photo of me on facebook, or writes on my wall. Although the internet may not be real, it's a solid showing of the fact that someone is thinking about you and they want to show you that they're thinking about you. Granted, the idea of surveillance is creppy mc creeperson. But it's also sort of fantastic, don't you think?
N+1 also discussed the effect the internet has on writing. This is undoubtedly a negative one. When we write for publication we edit, we slave, and we bleed over the page. When we write a blog, there's not so much effort involved. Blogs and news sites and other things you find on the Internet in many ways are meant to be read as distraction, as entertainment, not as engagement. Anyone who tells me he or she reads NYTimes.com the same way they read The New York Times is a liar. So a new, internet language is forming before our very eyes. The question is, will it be a wonderful addition or a decay of language as we know it?
I for one can vouch that there are plenty of bloggers out there who write with great care and aplomb on their blogs, or there are bloggers who post links of intellectual interest, or photography, or art. Take a look at my blogroll: you will find them all there.
In conclusion, I've made a resolution to myself to stop stressing over what's on the internet and focus on what's in front of me (not the screen, but in real life). That won't stop me from writing this blog or reading Jezebel, but pointing out the dangers of the internet feels necessary. For my generation, and especially the one that follows.