Gratitude: For the Internet

I think the real reason we tweet, blog and compulsively update our status is that we are looking for a response. We crave even the simple acknowledgment of people “LOL”ing at a link or a throwaway comment. And we need to complain, too. We need to vent. The internet lets us say “out loud” things for which we have no conversational context in regular old analog life.

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, and the office is silent except for the sound of my typing and the faint mumble of newscasters coming from the TV in the break room. It would be awkward, at best, to start spouting all the things on my mind: I’m kindof hungry. I just talked to my mom, and she told me my dad is in the hospital, but she says not to worry. I really like the way NPR is reporting on the Wikileaks story. I have mixed feelings about Julian Assange. I’m worried about my dad, now. Last week was really hard, and I want this week to be better. Yesterday, I totally cried in my boss’s office because I was overwhelmed. I felt stupid. I’m excited about the goat cheese I found at the farmers’ market this weekend. Really looking forward to freezing some local summer produce to save for this winter.

Perhaps this is not what the internet was meant to be, but I do believe it gives us a context for reaching out to people, making connections, and sharing thoughts that sometimes weigh on us or overwhelm us or excite us. Some people will say that our fast-paced, high-tech lifestyle leaves us less connected than ever before, yet I feel more connected in many ways.

Right now, I am really grateful for that connection.

Photo Credit: "Tweet up" by Toni Barros

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Monday Night Nonfiction: The Internet is Serious Business!

On the internet, everything is a joke, which is as it should be. It’s the safe haven of absurdists, and the challenge we need most. Can you hold your ground and keep believing nothing is sacred in the face of the infinite electronic laughter?

Ones and zeros: It’s there or it’s not. We live in an intricate series of yes or no questions that, taken all together, result in a big amorphous maybe.

We thrive on intersections of opposing ideas. It is the age of Hecate and Hermes and Pan all over again. I used to know a witch who swore by Pan’s balls. It only occurs to me now how appropriate that is.

The things that make the least sense to us, the ideas that refuse to be categorized, the questions that cannot be answered — those are where we find our truth. We thrive on nonsense because it makes sense in an age of contradictions. When we grow up learning about the american dream, when it’s en vogue to hate the leader no matter which side you’re on, when we see reflected in ourselves everything that’s wrong with our country and our world, we turn to the absurd, and we say yes.

It’s important not to get too wrapped up. It’s essential not to believe too thoroughly. Faith will disprove itself, we have seen. Absolutes once embraced show us the gaping wounds in their bellies or in their brains.

And despite and because of the uncertainty, we become a conglomerate of hope. We become the new primordial ooze. We are extraordinarily rich with potential, even as we wallow in this mud. Ideas form and flow faster than any of us can think. The collective human computer is at war with itself and producing one failed solution after the next to the unsolvable problem of human nature.

We don’t even have to fear artificial intelligence because we don’t have time to invent a machine that smart. We’re too busy destroying one another. We are our own monster creation. Beautiful and grotesque. The most amazing stage of human evolution is now.

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