I got up really late this morning. And even after I woke up, I stayed in my bed for hours, just kind of tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling, not able to summon the will to stand up and get going. I reached for my cell phone and killed another hour or two on the mobile Internet. It’s gotten to the point where I can stay on the Internet indefinitely, not doing anything at all. I’ll go through my Facebook news feed, reading the statuses of my Facebook friends, a lot of people I haven’t even spoken to in years, just kind of indirectly keeping tabs on everybody’s lives.
And it’s weird because a lot of people don’t really use Facebook anymore. Or if they use it, they only lurk in the background, they’re not actually posting daily content. So it’s just this weird mix of friends, relatives, people that I went to school with twenty years ago, people that I’ve worked with ten years ago. And so I can always waste ten or fifteen minutes scrolling all the way the down, keep scrolling, keep loading more stories.
Then to Twitter. I’m really bad at Twitter. As in, I’m not really actively involved. I’m following something like seventy people, but I don’t really know how I chose those seventy. I’ll follow people on a whim, usually because Twitter suggests it. When I first started using it, I’d see a funny Twitter joke and I’d be like, “Ha! Follow!” only to realize that maybe that was the one funny thing that this person ever wrote in an otherwise boring list of daily nonsense. Like why am I following Ensign Wesley Crusher from Star Trek? If I ever tweeted out, “I’m drinking an IPA!” that would be a huge waste of everybody’s time. But Wil Wheaton does it and somehow I’m reading about it. I guess Twitter is really just like a backup Facebook, like if I’m very bored and I seriously just want time to disappear I’ll go through the feeds of all of these people that I really don’t have any connections to at all in real life.
And look at that, Reddit has a mobile app too. Whereas Facebook and Twitter are perfect for eliminating time in ten to fifteen minute chunks, Reddit is a great way to make a whole day vanish, as if you never had off in the first place. Let’s just look at stupid pictures and lame jokes, but indefinitely, a never ending sea of blue links to be clicked and mindlessly consumed. I sometimes have to make it a conscious activity just to refrain from even going to the home page, it’s that dangerous.
The worst part is, if and when I ever pry myself away from Reddit, I’ll get all anxious, looking at the clock, seeing how I’ve let the day totally slip away, something I had, time that I’ve lost that I’ll never get back. I’ll jump up, not standing up entirely, but I’ll leap up in bed and think, I’ve got to do something here, I’ve got to get going. But then I’ll look at my phone again. Well, after I check Facebook. I’ve been on Twitter and Reddit for so long that by now there has to be a whole new list of status updates to scroll through. And the process repeats itself.
There’s no escape. It’s not like I can just not have a phone. What am I supposed to do? How do I turn it all off? I can’t. I don’t know what else I’d do. And I can’t even turn to anybody or anything for any guidance. History doesn’t have any advice. We’re in new territory here. The great minds of humanity never had to deal with such bullshit problems like Facebook and Reddit. How can Plato or Socrates or any of the other great philosophers help me out when I can’t even get through a whole sentence without being distracted by the email sound going off on my iPhone? And look at that, it’s junk mail! What a surprise!
There’s no going back. We can’t turn off progress. But there’s got to be a better way.