How the hell do you protect your kids in the age of the internet?Read More
I’m having a social media wobble. That’s not a Fortnite dance, by the way. in case you were wondering. No, I’m doing that thing where I waver briefly over the big red button I had installed in my house that says ‘ERASE ALL SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS’. It doesn’t actually do anything, but I’m still scared to hit it.
I seem to have them with increasing frequency. It’s all born of a dilemma, and I guess it’s one that we all have to live with, one way or the other.
I love the internet.
I hate the internet.
Still, F. Scott Fitzgerald did say that the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function, so… score?
Anyway, my dilemma, the love side first. I have so many friends who live in my phone, or in my computer. I mean, I’m sure that they live in some kind of physical plane, also, one where they run around like the bags of meat they are, having lives and drinking beer and everything that goes along with it. But in a very real sense they exist for me only in my phone.
There’s all kinds of friends in there – friends who talk to me all about obscure German drugs rock bands and music where people stand on sweaty stages and scream at you until it sounds like they’re going to hock up a lung.
Friends who write all kinds of stories and try to make that something they do for a living, who support each other, give each other tips about story craft and book marketing, and hold each other as they weep into the general abyss that lives just under the keyboard of every writer.
There’s the formerly IRL friends, the ones who you only see a few times a year but can remain entwined in each other’s lives through judicious use of cats, memes, and getting jealous of the cool tattoos they all seem to be suddenly getting.
These relationships are key parts of my life, things which I’m not sure I can reasonably do without, and which I don’t want to do without, either.
But then there’s the other side. The hate side. That’s much easier to define. *dons tin foil*
The internet, it’s becoming increasingly clear, is all four horsemen of the apocalypse, all riding one horse. Or four horses stacked on top of each other. It’s the downfall of civilisation. It’s the festering pustule in which the seeds of our ruination are sowed.
Now, that might strike you as hyperbole. But I’m not entirely sure it is. Let’s check up on this thing. Privacy is an illusion, we all carry microphones in our pockets and station them all over our houses, and broadcast everything to the world. Look, I’m doing it right now! We are all on endless social media where we’re not the customers, even though that’s what they try to tell us. We’re the product. We’re what’s being sold, because that’s the entire business model.
Oh, and the planet is getting hotter and we keep voting for people who don’t seem to care all that much. The freedoms and rights that most of us enjoy are ridiculously fragile things, and right now they’re under a full throated assault by forces which would undo all the progress made by this crazy thing we call civilisation over the last centuries. Yoda was right all along, it seems – anger, fear, hatred, these are the tools of the dark side. They’re as potent now as they were in the 1930’s, as potent as they were in 1914, as potent as they have ever been. And they have weaponised the internet. They looked at the tool which we all say with hippie eyes and optimism and said ‘we’re going to use that to Fuck. Things. Up.’
Okay, shall I take the tin foil off my head again?
I think most of us, or at least those of us on the side that keeps getting its arse handed to it on a regular electoral basis recently, are constantly trying to reconcile these two things. And I’m not entirely sure they can be.
Hence the wobble.
So, I’m going to do the only sensible thing – I’m going to vent about it in a blog post, feel slightly smug about that for a bit, and then carry on exactly as I have been. I’m going to have cull of people on Twitter who I follow for reasons unknown, and I’m going to mute people on Facebook. I’m going to leave a load of groups where people yell at each other in shrill voices about things. Because what the hell else am I going to do?
So there’s my cheery thought for the day. Enjoy the rest of your week!
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon.