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.
"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."
~ desmond tutu
Incidentally, while we're talking, I thought I would share a few of my very favourite sites in my blogroll -- ones that consistently make me feel better once I've visited them. I've divided them into three: the ones that are inspirational in their beauty (photography or art), the ones where I feel a connection with the author, and the ones that make me laugh (obviously, there are crossovers with all of them). If any of them are new to you, I invite you to check them out; in addition, if you have any sites that you find consistently uplift you, please leave them in the comments -- I'm always looking for new inspiration.
inspiration through beauty
Street Etiquette -- This is, first and foremost, a style blog: run by Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs from the Bronx in New York, Street Etiquette focuses on male fashion, travel and lifestyle, particularly with from an urban perspective. Even though I'm not a man, I don't wear male fashion, and I'm not from the Bronx, I am riveted by this site: the photography is exquisite, and I feel like Kissi & Gumbs are doing something that no one else is doing, either online or off. A truly gorgeous site.
Today is Going to Be Awesome -- Authored by Oakland-based artist Lisa Congdon, I love her whimsical work and her deeply thoughtful commentary. I never leave her site without feeling like I've learned something new -- in the areas of art, yes, but also social justice, history and culture as well.
inspiration through connection
Nothing But Bonfires -- Holly Burns is an absolutely gifted writer, able to weave a story from the most everyday event. Holly and I are different in almost every way -- she's far younger than me, she's a brand new mom, she lives in San Francisco -- and yet I feel like I relate to everything she says, so beautifully descriptive are her words. She's the kind of writer that I want to grow up to be, seriously.
Ill Doctrine -- Jay Smooth, the man behind this video blog, recently described the purpose of his work as "making a case for human connectedness and compassion" -- and how could I not love this? His background is actually in hip-hop, but more recently he tackles social and political issues of the day. He's so keenly smart and has a facility with words that is jaw-dropping, so that even on the extremely rare off-chance I don't fully agree with him, at the very least he has made me think. Whenever I've read something on the internet that truly enrages me, he's often the person that puts what I'm feeling into words so succinctly that I'm able to listen to him, feel my anger expressed rationally, and then let it go. I'm such a huge fan.
inspiration through humour
The Bloggess -- I admit that Jenny is one of my best friends, but I promise that I would say this even if she wasn't: I think Jenny is a revolutionary writer. She's amazing -- not just because she's profanely hysterical, but because she's gifted with words, not to mention she's fragile and real. She's hilarious, but never at the expense of other people -- a trait which I feel like most humour in media lacks these days. Also, she makes being human something to be celebrated again, and I desperately wish more of this type of writing existed in the world. (But seriously, she curses a lot. Don't click on that link if cursing offends you.)
Hyperbole & a Half -- Technically, this blogger hasn't blogged very much in recent years, but dear Lord, is she funny -- and besides, her book has just hit the shelves, so I figure she should get a well-deserved plug. Allie Brosh creates these crudely drawn, yet very hysterical cartoons, on subjects that range from her dog to why she'll never be an adult (a topic that is actually pretty related to what we've been talking about here). She is insightful and talented and very funny, and like Jenny, she makes being weird feel a little more normal. I love this.
The sites above are just a few of my favourites, and as a disclaimer, what I love may not necessarily be what you love, so no guarantees, of course, that those sites will resonate with you (but I suppose that's actually the upside of actually having an internet that has absolutely everything on it). In any event, I guess the point of all of this is to reinforce the concept that we are each our own very best curators, and we should be really ruthlessly discriminating in both what we consume, and what we put out onto the internet.
So thank you so much for the reminder, friends. And again, if you have any favourite sites that tend to leave you feeling awesome, please share them in the comments. I believe the more we give love to people who are doing great work out there, the better the internet becomes, don't you think?