Thanks to all of you who left comments on my What Are We Looking For? post -- I love that it seemed to resonate with so many of you, and that I'm not alone in my mindless web-surfing, and in the somewhat-let-down feeling that often ensues. So many of your comments gave me so much food for thought, and I've been mulling them over all weekend. I don't know that I've come up with any deep insights or ultimate wisdom, but here's what I'm thinking so far:
1. I don't think surfing is entirely related to an aversion to being alone. I'm not saying that there aren't some who surf their smart phones or computers to avoid being alone -- I totally understand that this could be the case -- but what I am saying is that I don't think this aversion encompasses why everyone does it. I think sometimes we just surf merely because we're just looking for something to do -- like doodling. I don't think it's always a sign that there's something wrong with us.
I think sometimes we just surf because it's there.
2. I don't think the internet is inherently evil. Ultimately, I think the good of the Internet, much like the good of television, far outweighs the negative. I mean, honestly, I love the fact that if I get lost in a city, all I have to do is whip out my cell phone, and there's a map at my disposal. I love the fact that if, for example, I'm out with friends having lively conversation, and the question of which actor played Harry's best friend in the movie When Harry Met Sally comes up, a smart phone can quickly give the answer, and help move the conversation along (FYI, Bruno Kirby). I have learned, and connected, and been inspired by countless sites on the web, a fact for which I'll forever be grateful. And I suspect I'm not the only one who feels this way, too.
3. I think ultimately, when we surf the web, we hope to be uplifted. I think we each define "uplifted" in a myriad of different ways -- some of us look for connection, others for inspiration; or we want to laugh, or we want to think, or we want to learn -- but ultimately, this is really what we all crave. All of us. I think, if we're honest with ourselves, we don't surf the web to become angry, or sad, or despondent, or discouraged. I believe this, because I believe it's human nature to seek light. The problem is that in the seeking, we can get distracted.
4. I think surfing the web is akin to drinking from a fire hose. I think there's just so much out there, and it's just so easy for everyone to put content on the web, that when we surf, we're just deluged with ... stuff. Stuff that is near impossible to sift through (because, let's face it, Google doesn't do that efficient of a job). And unfortunately, while we all might innately seek light, content creators aren't really incentivized to put uplifting things on the internet -- not when we're so easily distracted by sensationalism, and violence, and anger, and shame. And since many of these content-creators -- news outllets and online magazines and commercial websites, yes, but also bloggers and Facebookers and individual content creators, too -- place a lot of their value in maximizing the number of eyes that see their work, distraction, rather than inspiration, is an easy way to make that happen.
I find myself in the position of being both a consumer of the Internet, as well as someone who makes a considerable part of her living as a content creator, putting stuff out on the internet. And given the points above, I've come to two conclusions, so far:
1. I need to continue to be very vigilant about what I consume. I work online and in social media, so unfortunately, I'm required to keep tab on lots of networks; however, as a consumer, I can always be more mindful about what I follow and what I choose to mute. In the comments of my Friday post, several of you shared how you limit what you consume, and this gives me so much food for thought. Thank you for this, truly.
2. I need to be very vigilant about what I create. I am generally very good about ensuring that what I share online is positive, but I think there are areas where I can improve. I'd like Chookooloonks to be a site that is consistently soul satisifying -- so that if someone is waiting at the doctor's office, say, mindlessly surfing the web, and he stumbles upon this site, he ends up feeling better after being here than before -- consistently and every time. I realize that this is a pretty lofty goal, but there it is. And I hope it guides my content for you guys in the coming year.
So there you have it. I don't know that this is anything particularly profound, but I'm hoping it's enough to look at my familiar site with new(ish) eyes.