Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'm in an abusive relationship with the internet

Way back in mid-90s when Al Gore invented the internet, it was mainly used to get people all "hot and bothered."  We didn't know what to make of it entirely, but the oldest profession in the world got with the newest platform in the world and created a lot of... well... you know it when you see it... Ahem.

Oh, how times have changed. Today, instead of getting most people all "hot and bothered," the interweb is largely responsible for getting people just "bothered."

I mean, I'm on it.  And probably too much.  I get real time updates from home and all over the world right here in Western Kenya.  I watch touching videos of my beloved niece and nephews, an ocean away, right here in my living room. I wouldn't go back to a world without it.  But, it's also a source of unique irritation in my life.  Here's why:

(1) I love that there's always an answer to "What's for dinner?" what with the series of tubes on the case.  But here's my beef (<-- did you see what I did there?):

I look up something I'm craving, like chicken tikka masala, and can easily find the recipe that has the highest rating with the most reviewers.  But then, I dig a little deeper into those glowing reviews, and get to comments like this:

"I absolutely loved this recipe   It was perfect.  I made just a few adjustments.  I removed the curry and turmeric, doubled the garlic, added a pinch of cilantro and then rolled up the whole thing in a tortilla and ate it like a taco.  Great recipe. My family, who normally hates Indian food, was asking for seconds. Five stars!!"

Look, if you have to change anything about a recipe it is. not. five. stars. Just give it 3 stars, and we can all move on.  If I have to read a dozen reviews to determine the quality of a recipe it kind of defeats the efficiency of searching up a recipe online.  Ok?  let's move on...

(2) Pinterest.  Why oh why do I get sucked into looking at sun-lit pictures of domestic tranquility and order?  It's calming, like a spa day for the eyes. And then there are clever little ideas that entice you into thinking a better life is just a more orderly sock drawer away.
No problem some yarn, a glue stick and precision folding can't cute-ify.
But then it's that much more jarring when I return to this action:
I was feeling OK about this because, you see, the clothes are folded. But Pinterest is wagging it's finger at the mess on the top. 

(3) I'd like to keep this light, but the political discourse on the World Wide Webbernet, that is when the partisans emerge from their echo chambers to spar with each other, gives me heart palpitations.  I should probably just ignore these little anonymous battles in the comment section of a news articles, but there's something about a good fight that keeps me reading despite my better judgment.  Then I find I'm all worked up (and not in the old sense of the internet kind of way...), feeling defensive on behalf of muckraker03 and wanting to give Redstayte a serious piece of my mind. But if I engage, it only sucks me into some 4th grade mud-slinging battleground that I can only escape by turning off the computer and swallowing some Zanax.  (I don't do either.)

(4) I think we all know I'm avoiding the profitless 1 billion strong elephant in the room.  The book of face.  There's a lot to be annoyed with here: the constantly changing interface, the dubious privacy settings, the greater ease it allows for stalking and cyberbullying, the irritating political rants from distant acquaintances, the false veneer of fabulous on everyone's public personas, the hours lost investigating the travel photos from someone I barely care about.

And despite all this I find myself proselytizing facebook to the few holdouts because I don't know how we'll maintain a friendship if they can't be sucked down this feel-bad vortex with me.

(5) Why can't I leave this list at four items?  Darnit all. I have to find a fifth.  Why? I don't know.  I think I have to blame...  you know people, I'm running out of euphemisms for the Internet, so can we just call it the Internet?  Whew.  That's a load off.    Not to get too meta here, but read enough blogs and you start to think in lists.  So, making me feel bad about failing think of 5 things is my fifth thing.

But, despite all this, Internet, I really do love you, OK?  It's not you, sugarcakes, it's me.  You know how I am -- it's my own insecurity and lack of self control at the root of all my gripes.  So, please take the above rant as me just letting of some steam, which we all need to do at times, right?  And let's not even think of punishing me by slowing down or crashing. Because I need you lovemuffin.  Tomorrow I'll bring you some bytes or bits or something, whatever you like....  I'll even read all the online recipe reviews to make sure they're perfect.

18 comments:

  1. I've stopped reading the comments section of online news articles because I get so worked up. Usually the comments are more provoking than the article itself, and not in a fun philosophical debate way. More like a stupid, bullying way. A fight should at least be intelligent...grrr.

    I like the pic of your laundry. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy instead of scared and resentful like most Pinterest boards (and lots of blogs) do.

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    1. I know! I spend way too much time in the comment sections. I tell myself it's to keep a "finger on the pulse of public opinion." But it's really to troll for cat fights - or that's what it ends up being. I should do what you do and just stop reading them. Glad my sunlit picture of domestic tranquility made you feel warm and fuzzy. ; )

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  2. My shelves look more like yours! I also have a love hate relationship with the internet - love the way it keeps me connected but hate that my connection is so freaking slow that it wastes so much time loading and often times out before I get to what I want.

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    1. Yes. The slow loading and intermittent service is only serves to highlight my depressing dependence on the thing and how much control it has over my life!! Arg...

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  3. I can't hate the Internet, because well, I'd simply not know what to do with myself (insert a long diatribe about all the useful things I could do if I wasn't face peeled to my laptop, but let's not go there).

    BUT, the Internet breaks my heart daily. Stories of babies and children dying hurt the most. I just can't read those stories. But they pop up, chasing me around as I read blogs, online news etc. Ugh.

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    1. Thanks a really good point Alison! As much as it can bring inspiring stories and comedy into your living room, it can also bombard you with tragedy. Especially if you've ever donated to aid organizations, all your pop-ups and ads will be depressing stories from places with high need around the world. : (

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  4. You had me at the recipes. Does reviewing a recipe mean something different that only you and I don't know about?

    I also read the comments under political posts, but only until I am thoroughly disgusted by the level of nastiness. Then I go scrub out my brain with kittens. Or babies.

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    1. I know! I was thinking it can't just be me getting annoyed with all these 5 star reviews which change fundamental things about the recipe. Pet. peeve. And how does one scrub out their brain with a kitten, because I think mine needs a good kitten scrub... ; )

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  5. I highly recommend the site "Pinterest, You Are Drunk." Sure, it won't reduce your time on the internet, but you'll see some examples of pins that will make you feel better about yourself instead of worse.
    Loved this post!

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    1. I was just welcomed to the pinterestareyoudrunk site with the photo of a jack-o-lantern on a gurney at a hospital giving birth to a baby jack-o-lantern. I'm officially a fan!

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  6. I usually try to avoid the comments sections on any hot topics. Generally there's at least a dozen illiterate people bashing each other, and another 5 preaching fire and brimstone and calling everyone sinners. Rarely is there any intelligent debate, and if it's there it gets lost in the midst of all that bashing.

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  7. I ADORE YOu. I always have but this post seals the deal. The humor is my favorite. I tried to be funny this week, but I was really just gross. You are funny, and insightful, and DEAD ON. You are why I love the Webbernet and Pinterest is why I hate it. More you, less of them.

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  8. I just loved this! I have the same peeve about recipe reviews. Being online is all you say. Can't live with it, can't live without it...

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  9. I LOVED this post! And I'm sharing on my book of face. :-)

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  10. I absolutely loved this! And I don't use those words lightly. Webbernet, book of face, sugarcakes, lovemuffin.. I was laughing out loud. If this doesn't speak for all of us, then nothing ever will. And so well-written!

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  11. You know, the recipe thing bugs the snot out of me, too. I admit that I am the kind of cook that uses a recipe as a guideline and not as a bible, so I often fool around with recipes. But I don't ever post my alterations in a review. That's saved for chefs who got a B+ in Home Ec and are forever trying to erase the shame of not getting an A.

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  12. It is a double edged sword, isn't it? I love it. I hate it. It makes me angry. It fills me with joy. It is an extension of life delivered to my door. But most of all? It allows me to get to know a woman named Mama Mzungu living in Kenya. I am grateful for that.

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  13. I think we all have a love-hate relationship with the internet. I can't imagine a world without it, but I also kind of want to punch it in the face sometimes. And don't get me started on facebook. Think of all the people we'd lose touch with completely if facebook disappeared simply because we don't have their phone numbers or email addresses!

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