I’m in the midst of a rough patch with my main man and it has thrust me into a dark spiral, one with endless existential questions that, as you might expect, have no obvious answers. But the partner in question is not my lover, if sex is a necessary deal-sealer for such a title. No, I’m talking about my computer, whose companionship has led to the ultimate love/hate relationship of my life thus far, easily triumphing over all the other hate-laced attractions that I’ve previously endured.
I love my computer after a strenuous and action-packed day—it’s a comfort that supplies me with the perfect amount of mind-numbing material to distract me from reality. Escape is quite literally at my fingertips in the form of Netflix, iTunes, and the black hole that is social media stalking. It doesn’t overtly ask anything of me, yet it still ends up eating much of my time. Its thievery, however, reads more like coddling. Diving deep into the internet often feels exciting and beneficial–we have a one-sided conversation, in which I do none of the talking. I tell myself that the World Wide Web is a worthy pastime, one that will surely reward me with greater knowledge, a broader perspective re: the going’s on of our big universe.
But after a few hours are whittled away, nausea ensues. I feel dirty in a way that’s probably comparable to those supposedly well-meaning politicians who, ahem, stick it where the sun don’t shine…until, courtesy of the search dogs at pubs like The New York Post, it does. I’ve cheated on my wife—except my wife, here, is my life. Real life, the off-screen happenings that once took precedence over my perfectly curated online realm.
I’ve written off the notion of guilty pleasures, but the Internet–having at this point set up shop in my soul–is one that I just can’t shake. Indulgence is fine and all, and I consider occasional mind numbing to be a necessary reset button in the game of getting by. But the Internet dresses itself up as a lot more than that most of the time, convincing me that it’s the ultimate fountain of learning today, one that should be continuously probed if the betterment of my brain is the goal.
I fall for it again and again, but never feel quite fulfilled. Regardless, it continues to coax me back into its shiny sphere, offering greater knowledge and tips for a better life sprinkled amongst its endless listicles and data charts. Procrastinate less, it tells me, by reading these twelve articles on procrastination. An hour later, procrastination has taken the money ($$$ being time) and ran. A blank white word document floats behind ten open tabs, each one having sparked a new idea that I struggle to actually begin amidst the overload of inspiration on hand. I read about thirty articles online a day, yet can only recall specific details from the book I read before bed when thinking over my verbage-intake the next day.
With a little self-talk (that favorite mechanism of therapists everywhere), I finally convince myself to walk away…slamming the screen shut in the way you might scold a sordid lover, which has the strange effect of heightening, rather than diminishing, your desire. For a moment I indulge this feeling, write my concerns off as over-thinking or contra-modern. I trace the apple staring back at me, so menacing in it’s pseudo-innocence—fondle, you might say. But a peek outside gets the better of me. I go for a long walk and remember fresh air, reintroduce myself to humanity as it exists off screen, struggling together in public spaces rather than disappearing into the more-yin-than-yang world of technology-fostered isolation.