Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Unreal Life

Image courtesy of jonco48.com
In the same way the television is objectionable, the internet is also.

It takes a lot of effort to avoid the garbage, the incessant flow of mind pollution that the internet (just like the TV) brings into one's life.

This pollution bombards you against your will, while you're trying to engage in wholesome, meaningful activities. Examples of pollution: ads, popups, objectionable search results, and commercials, particularly the kind that remind us of the lowest human attribute -- lack of self-control.

Not only that, but spending time with the imaginary world of the internet (or the TV) means you're not spending time with actual flesh-and-blood people.

Like it or not, we are social creatures who need real human contact in order to survive. Remember Harlow's rhesus monkey experiment, where the baby monkeys failed to thrive without a loving touch? Or the institutionalized Romanian orphans of the 1990s or feral children throughout history?

Clearly, our development and progression depends on real, physical contact with real people.

Furthermore, doing things online (or watching TV) means you're not creating anything. Hell, the internet is even worse than TV, because with TV at least your hands are free for crocheting or something.

In fact, being online too much creates a kind of half-life; you seem to be living but not really. Really, you are sitting in front of an electronic box.

All your beautiful consciousness is directed into it; all the miraculous synapses of your brain are working on this imaginary scenario. It's a black hole for consciousness.
Photo courtesy of Vic Nanda, flickr.com
I recognize this half-life notion from a long, long time ago when, for the briefest period, I allowed television into the house and started watching-- yes, I'll admit it-- soap operas.

For that, blessedly short, period of time, it seemed as if my life consisted mostly of doing laundry, folding it while watching soaps, and preparing and cleaning up after meals.

No writing, no studying, no artwork, no creating, no photography, no traveling, no parties, no lunches with friends.

Back then, I called my sister in Texas and told her I was feeling depressed. She asked me to describe my day. When I got to the part about soaps, she stopped me. "Hold on, we've identified your problem," she said.

And she was right. I turned off the TV and never looked back.

But here we are again, with a different little box of commercial messages and commercially motivated hooks for the human spirit.

I feel depressed. Should I call my sister and describe my day?
P.S. Here's an article about a couple whose four year love affair has been carried out entirely on Second Life.

P.P.S. An unsatisfactory little article about a study looking at a link between Facebook and depression. More studies like this are likely to arise.

15 comments:

cecilia said...

I so share your views on this, what a wasteful time it is. And I smiled when I read that watching TV is more creative - I have taken up knitting again (am a periodic knitter and has been since I was 12) and I have a nagging feeling it is so that I can justify watching ANTM, Project Runway and Real Housewives of what have you and still be DOING something with my time.

I have to get a life

Indie said...

Cecilia, I have been spending entirely too much time on Facebook. To the detriment of my blog, since I find myself thinking in little one-sentence updates instead of pondering whole ideas for posts.

I am going to take up crocheting again, now that my thesis is written. So I have to cut back on the computer and rent more movies.

I'm feeling the absence of 1)creativity and 2) real companionship.

You, on the other hand, are one of the most creative, adventurous, and social people I know! You have the most amazing life that I seriously envy. Ah, but it's winter and maybe we both have cabin fever!! Is it cold there?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you should write this at the present time. Just last week I read an article in Women's Health on Facebook. It made me take a long look at my involvement on that site. Then reading this, I question "why am I on there so much? What am I lacking?" In many ways it has been a huge blessing in my life. I have gotten back in touch with so many people. In other ways it has been to my detriment. My own thought is that I need to be more balanced with FB.
Thanks for writing this!

cecilia said...

Indie, I was not recognizing myself at all in your description:). I read it out loud to my husband and we both cracked up as at the time of reading it, it was (is) 8pm on a Friday night and I am wearing my P.J.'s, getting ready for an early night, haha. Social? Adventurous? Moi?!

FB is incredibly addictive, though. I go through faces of it, sometimes I don't FB at all, sometimes I hit "Like" to absolutely everything I read.

Having said that - we should "hook up" on FB and be fb-buddies!
xxx

Indie said...

Anonymous, I agree with you: balance is the answer. You are absolutely right. I'm going to be working on that.

With the blog, at least I feel like I create something. I miss it and intend to blog more.

Cecilia, reading your blog has revived my interest in San Francisco, appreciating it through your eyes, and your lists of reasons to love it, your funny "you know you're in SF when..." posts :) It's actually got me planning a trip to see some of my friends in the Bay Area.

And as for adventurous, do I even need to point out the amazing intrepid spirit it takes to live in another country?

steviewren said...

I'm positive I would be more creative without TV or the Internet...on the other hand, the Internet has opened a whole new world of creative people up to me. It's a toss-up. Being disciplined and balanced is the answer.

Indie said...

Yes, Stevie, I so agree. We are back to that difficult but precious human trait -- self-control. I think it might be *the* trait to work on in the new year.

Melanie said...

This is the reason I did not join facebook. I already spend waaaaay too much time reading blogs and other websites.

Anonymous said...

Pardon, me, Indie. Could you direct me to the Breaking Earthquake News section of your blog?

Indie said...

Anon, we are all ok. I was driving and thought I'd gotten a flat tire! One son was at his girlfriend's in Cutten where pictures fell off the wall and broke. The other son was with the baby on the couch. He covered her with his body fully expecting the ceiling to cave in. His girlfriend was in the shower and almost fell. When I got home later that night, my house looked like it had been gently ransacked, drawers standing open, small things fallen over. This morning my neighbors told me the whole building swayed for awhile afterward.

How are you guys?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for asking, Indie. We are both OK. We rode out the earthquake together, standing in the doorway between the hall and the kitchen, while the house whipped back and forth, just scaring the hell out of us (until it stopped, when we instantly regained our composure, outwardly anyway.)

The quake (don't you think we should name Earthquakes the same way we name hurricanes?) dumped glassware like lamps and curios and vases down onto the floor with such violence that many of them broke even though they landed on our thick carpet.

But the house is OK. The foundation is fine. The new windows didn't crack. And so far, the new roof isn't leaking. Keep your fingers crossed.

Neither of us was hurt during the quake or the cleanup. Broken glass is the usual culprit, but we were careful and haven't gotten cut yet.

Saturday's quake was much stronger and longer than any of the three big jolts of April 1992 here in the old neighborhood. The damage inside the house was much greater than in '92. Even so, the damage was much less severe than you might have expected. So, barring big future quakes, we ought to be able to continue living a good life.

Oh, yeah. The lumber stacked on the high shelves in the garage above my cars DID NOT FALL, giving me a sort of serene aura that surrounds me wherever I go.

My Humboldt County kinfolk are all doing well, unfazed by the quake.

It's a relief to know you and your family are safe and well.

I said it before, and I'll say it again, Best Wishes for the New Year!

Indie said...

Anon, your house is filled with glass and knick-knacks! I hope you didn't lose anything precious!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for remembering and caring, Indie! When the
shaking stopped, we had broken glass all over the floor. The most precious-looking thing was what looked something like a Faberge egg. I asked about it and found out to my surprise, it had come from the Dollar Store! So I guess you could say we got off
light.

In fact, the evening news about Haiti tonight makes it really clear how light all of us local folks got off in Saturday's earthquake.

insidesunvalley said...

Exactly! The internet, like the babel on the tv, is a wasteland of stupidity and mind numbing animosity. People hide behind their computers being vicious dicks just so they can throw mean jabs at other people.

Anonymous said...

InsideSunValley, good and bad exist side-by-side in this world. It pays to be strong enough to bear some pain, because to try to isolate oneself against all meanness requires us to isolate ourselves from all human contact. And that way lies despair and madness.

I hope my cheerful message will lead you to greater happiness in the New Year.