Last week I tried to break up with the Internet. Our relationship had reached crisis point, with Internet requiring more and more of my time – stopping by my work on a co-worker’s iPad, roping me in to “just one more” episode on Hulu, taking me shopping (even though the Internet knows good and well that I’m as poor as a church mouse), etc. It was bad, it was making me codependent, and I wanted out. So like a Hollywood marriage, we parted ways, citing “irreconcilable differences” as the cause. (Although we both knew that the real reason was the affair I was having with a paperback novel. What can I say? The book was much better in bed.)
The thing is, you can’t just up and stop using the Internet these days. It’s just not possible. And so one quick check of email became a quick glance at Facebook and then a perusal of a few blogs, and then a few hours later I end up sprawled out on the mattress, spooning the Mac once more and smoking a post-browse cigarette in an attempt to cover up the smell of my bleary-eyed, slothful shame.
I think there’s a good balance for us somewhere, Internet and me. But I think in order to find it I will need to become less of a passive observer and more of a participant in this two way street. The more I do – creatively – online, the better I feel about how I’ve used my time with the Internet. The more I aimlessly surf, the more I want to, well, aimlessly surf. And I end up feeling used up and useless in the end.
It just makes me feel bad, is the thing. And who wants that? Not me. (Not L. Not my kids. And also did I mention: not me.) So we’re in counseling right now, Internet and me, taking things one click at a time and learning to bring out the best in each other again. I’m trying to turn it off enough so that it can keep turning me on. Rekindle some of that romance we had in the early days when we didn’t live in the same house and share a bathroom. And like any good therapist will tell me: I can’t change someone else, I can only change myself. I won’t change the Internet, I’ll only change my behavior around it. Which only makes the old cliched adage about our problems truer, Internet: it’s not you, it’s me.