Bad Internet, Good Holidays

I miss the days before constant Internet access. Remember those? Where, instead of sitting on the couch thumbing through your phone all evening, you were watching television with your family or, in my case, wholly focused on reading or writing for hours at a time.

I miss those days. I miss the days where I was more present in my own life. Which brings me to something that’s been bugging me more and more lately. I just can’t shake the nagging feeling that the Internet is increasingly trying to tell me how to live my life. Think about it for a minute. It’s not like this is some obvious brainwashing scheme or anything so obviously malevolent. It’s much more subtle, and every time we access Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, we’re subject to it.

Take Facebook for instance. I feel as if I am constantly bombarded by opinions and moral debates and Buzzfeed smugly telling me who I should be voting for if I’m a decent human being, all while also trying to comfort me that my life isn’t going to waste, that all people in my age group are feeling a certain way these days. It’s okay that I don’t have kids yet, here are all the ways I can enjoy my life without those tiny humans. Here’s also why being obsessed with my dog is okay. Buzzfeed is not the only one, but they are constantly putting out articles like this that tell me a certain way of living is the okay one, the right one because everyone else is doing it.

That’s not to say this is necessarily bad, but I just feel like I could be a happier individual sometimes if I didn’t measure my life by Buzzfeed’s standards, or measure my morals by my very liberal college buddy’s feelings on the matter. I hope that makes sense.

Now, Twitter and YouTube. They’ve both come out with these “Moments” and “Trending” tabs on their apps that they’ve put ahead of my subscriptions and mentions tabs. To me, it’s almost as if they are saying what the world is interested in is what I should be checking all the time, not interests that I’ve tagged myself.

I feel that more and more, technology wants to anticipate my needs for me based off whatever they’re trying to advertise at the moment. It’s kind of like my phone constantly reminding me that my GPS is off, would I like to turn it on? Samsung, I love you, but I am smart enough and I will freaking tell you when I want GPS on to drain my battery. I. Will. Tell. You. Not the other way around.

We’re ceding more control of our lives and our opinions to the Internet and technology, in one way or another.

I grew up in a rural area with very conservative views. Those people color my Facebook feed as much as the very liberal people I went to college with and have remained in touch with. This means that I am constantly seeing both sides of an argument and it makes me wonder if I only saw one side, would it color my own opinion on the matter? How many people are influenced by their Facebook feeds? Don’t laugh, you know it’s possible and more than that, it’s happening. More and more, you hear people of all ages saying “Oh you know, I read so and so on Facebook and it said…” We’re all under the influence of social media.

What does this mean for the bigger picture? Maybe nothing, but I doubt that. Social media is a very powerful machine made up of so many dynamic parts that it is easy for us to get lost in the moving pieces and become something we may have never intended. I think that as long as we’re aware though, and we can figure out when to step away from social media for a while, we’ll be okay.

Honestly, I feel that there is so much hate in the world right now and social media is, in a way, perpetuating it. But I have hope things will get better. There’s a saying, “Hope strengthens, fear kills.” We have to keep hope alive. Social media does a little of that too. But we still need to step away from it regularly, and find some good things in this world. I do every time I put my phone down and look at my dog and my husband, see my family together and laughing, talking smack.

There’s still good in this world, and I will never stop believing that. I’ve recently had a revelation. People keep arguing about Christmas and the winter holidays and Keep Christ in Christmas and Jesus is the reason for the season. For you, maybe. But for the rest of us?

Hope is the reason for the season, and honestly that applies to Christians too. Jesus represents hope for them, just like the Winter Solstice does for Pagans, in a way. I’ve always found it funny that the Solstice marks the beginning of winter, but it’s also when the days begin to slowly grow longer again. It’s as if it is a beginning of an end, a time to remember the light is coming back. It’s hope.

Hope is the reason for the season. 

This was a very long and sort of rambling post and if you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read my words. I’m not sure when I’ll post to the Kelswitch again and when I Write Dangerously goes live next Monday, it will take the priority of regularly posting for a while. I sincerely hope you’ll join me on that personal journey. The address is wordstomidnight.wordpress.com.

If we don’t speak again in the next two weeks, Happy Yule. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Blessed be, brothers and sisters. In love and light, let’s have a happy holiday and start 2016 fresh with hope in our hearts.

Kelswitch, over and out.

 

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