Right now, I am posting on a blog on the Internet. After I'm finished, I will continue to be connected to the world wide web (I like saying/typing it too), checking my favorite sites at least once. I don't generally keep track, but the hours a day I spend online is quite possibly mind boggling. This isn't merely something I do a lot. Without the Internet for a prolonged length of time, and without something else to do, I am noticeably upset. It's not like that happens much, save for the occasional technological malfunction. On a summer camping trip I was overjoyed to find that they offered free wireless Internet.
So why am I so attached to this all powerful invisible entity we simply call "the Net"? I suppose there are several reasons. One is the instantaneous knowledge about anything and everything that is apparently at my fingertips. A simple search and everything I ever wanted to know about anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to complex nuclear physics is right there. The information out there is so extensive that it often takes hours to sift through the most innocent of google searches. As someone who is constantly in search of more information, this can be appealing. But does more mean better? Does fast access mean credible?
As Neil Postman says, " it does not help us, neither does television or any other 19th- or 20th-century medium (except perhaps the telephone), to solve the problem of what is significant information. " (Postman)
So while I know exactly how to find enough information to possibly fill several libraries, the Net doesn't help me to decide if any of it is worthwhile. The fact that anyone can publish anything on the Internet makes this seemingly impossible task slightly more problematic. If I were to say right now that the sky was purple, it would forever exists on the Internet without the warning that it is simply an interesting fabrication. In my search for information, I learned to be cautious, and that more isn't better.
I must also remember that just because I know more, doesn't mean I can feel better about the news of the "greater world", wherever that is. I like to always know what's happening, in terms of natural disasters. crime, war, or what is in other words "the news". But knowing all this doesn't fix anything. Knowing all this means that these problems will still exists, especially when knowledge is a passive process.
As Neil Postman also says, " we are deluded into thinking that the serious social problems of our time would be solved if only we had more information, and still more information. " (Postman)
So why else do I have an obsession with the world wide web (it is fun to type)?
I think my obsession and slight dependence come from the connections. When my best friend was in China for 2 months, I could speak to her every day as I normally did. When all my friends went to different cities hours away for university, I could talk to them as much as ever through instant messaging. Other forms of technology allow this, but the world wide web allows in instantly, and at no cost. When the Internet replaces human connections, it becomes a problem. Although through social networking cites such as Facebook, you get the illusion of being connected, in the end, you are alone at your computer. However, when great distances prevent physically seeing important people, the Internet gives many options of keeping in touch.
I'm off to explore more of the online world now, but I will always exercise caution. After this post, I realize that limiting Internet time might be a good thing, so that this doesn't become a dependence that interferes with daily life. Cutting off the Internet entirely isn't really necessary, and being slightly addicted I might not be able to handle it. It's not as though I'm a slave to the Internet. It just influences most aspects of my daily life...that's all!
On a side note, you will notice I have changed the title of my blog. I might do it a few times. This one is the title of a great song by Superchick.
Until next time,
Postman, Neil. "The Humanism of Media Ecology." 16jun2000 13 Sep 2008 <http://www.media-ecology.org/publications/MEA_proceedings/v1/humanism_of_media_ecology.html>.
6 years ago