Writing in this blog is difficult. I think it’s because there’s a mix of two drives – a need to share, and a rather strong distaste for the medium in which I’m sharing.
I’ve been on the net, in one form or another, since I was maybe seventeen or eighteen. That’s… around twenty-five years now, give or take. My first experience on the Internet (not including earlier BBSes) was on a VMS machine at the college I was attending, and it’s defined my life and social life ever since, in a very real way. I got my first job directly because of the Internet, the woman I lost my virginity with, I met on the Internet… and same for all of my partners since. For the past twenty-five (or more) years, there has rarely been a day that I have not been on the Internet or glued to a device in one form or other.
I can’t deny that it’s impacted my life in positive ways. But it’s also impacted my life in very, very negative ways. Including this blog, if I’m being honest. I’m not going to enumerate the positive ways, except to say that with my emotional issues, it’s probably the only way I could have survived – I think I’d be on a form of permanent disability if it didn’t exist. So I’m not saying it’s all bad, just that it’s not all good.
There are several very large problems with the Internet, in my view. The biggest problem is that when you’re on the net, your mind is not in your body. That’s of course, true for almost any social interaction, but it’s magnified a hundred fold here. It’s an amazing escape. For example, I can troll away on YouTube and find a million different things (seemingly literally) to completely forget where I am and what I’m doing corporally. I can pass a lot of it off as “I’m learning something”, and often, that’s even true. It doesn’t matter. My mind is elsewhere. I can go on any of a hundred websites or social media sites I might like and get lost in the comment sections – interacting with other people whose minds are also not in their bodies – but on the pages we’re interacting on.
In a real way, we’ve become cyborgs, just haven’t made it official yet.
Another problem, and it’s almost as big, is that on the Internet, you only interact with a subset of people. You interact with the people who choose (or need) to use the net for the purpose of social interaction. This self-selects for people who aren’t… willing or able to interact in person to some degree or other. I must count myself as one of those people. The problem is that this (generally) also self-selects for people with particular political or social values, because people who choose (or need) to use the net for the purpose of social interaction also tend to have emotional or psychological issues that make it difficult to interact with people on an in-person level. These are also the people with unresolved trauma who are hyper-sensitive to slights or exclusion, and thus also tend to be the people who lean left.
In other words, people who don’t share my values.
This leads to a situation where my entire world (for the most part) is pretty much filled exclusively with people who I don’t get along with, and more importantly, don’t get along with me.
Yes, I am aware that there are communities on the net that, on the surface, do share my values. Except they don’t in their own way. Because even people who hang out on conservative forums have the first problem – they don’t play well with others.
Now, I’m not excluding myself from any of this. Perhaps they don’t share my values, but I’ve spent so much time on the Internet for a reason. I don’t play well with others, and the Internet is particularly well suited to my version of not playing well with others. While leftists and the easily triggered will often try to “cancel” people – getting them removed from whatever forum they’re on, I particularly value the ability to completely remove myself from any situation I don’t like, quickly, easily, completely, and permanently. For example, I was on a railfan YouTube channel (hell, I’ll name them, Virtual Railfan, nice people but fuck the moderators) where one of the moderators went on a power trip, more than once. Rather than adapting my behavior to their (stupid and unrealistic, if I’m being honest) expectations, I just left the chat, unsubscribed from the channel, said “don’t recommend it to me again”, and that was it. Never been back. No need. I also had the same thing happen with EEVBlog. The guy who owns it kind of went on a power trip (in this case I’ll admit I could have phrased something better), and I just… left. Never went back. Don’t plan to, either. This has happened in many different cases, at many different times. It’s the reason I consider shutting this blog down, and why people tend to get the vibe that I don’t like comments (I do). I really value that aspect of the Internet – the ability to completely shut down social interactions when I feel like it with absolute finality – and this is not healthy.
Now, I’ll be clear: I’m not saying it’s never my fault when I close down communication like that. I’m also not saying I’m always the reasonable one. I’m just stating facts. It’s how it is.
And when it comes to the fact that I’ve met all of my partners on the Internet, and they’ve all turned out to be duds for one reason or other (again, not necessarily their fault, but they were not well suited to me for varying reasons – maybe one of them being that they used the net healthily, and I didn’t).
Put all these things together, and the Internet has been one of the major positive driving forces of my life, and also possibly the negative one. I’m not sure how I could survive without the net, and it also destroys me a little each day.
I need the ‘net. Not so much for social interactions, but because it’s really the only viable way (for me) to make any kind of a living right now. My chosen profession is in computers. I’ve been doing it forever. I don’t know how I’d be able to do anything different. So I can’t leave it, I can’t just shut it off and go my own way – at least right now, it’s impossible. I’m stuck with it. But I’m not using it in a healthy way, and that needs to change. I don’t know how, but it needs to change.