Talking About Using the Internet Less While Using the Internet: A Millennial’s Tale of Sacrifice

The internet is a beautiful place, a magical place full of YouTube videos of people performing, well, magic and anything else you can thing of. I’m fairly certain it was the internet Jesus was referring to in the biblical quote, “Ask and you shall receive.” I mean, the internet is such a big deal, it’s not even a big deal anymore. On the internet, anything is possible.

You need a chicken noodle soup recipe? Check.

Porn? Check.

Porn about chicken noodle soup? Well, I searched it and all I found was a comedy sketch show that happens to have an episode entitled Porn Star Pete- The Chicken Noodle Soup, which was not porn, but was still deeply satisfying in all the weird, wonderful ways the internet can be. You see? Magic.

Anyway, I’ve decided to take a break from the places in this digitized world wherein I waste the most time, namely, Facebook, Instagram and all forms of online shopping  for TEN WHOLE DAYS. So, why would I do this asks the hypothetical audience in my head? Well, for one, rich and famous people check out from the internet all the time so it must be a good idea. But really, it’s because the internet gives us the power to access seemingly any information, anywhere, anytime and as Spiderman’s wise old Uncle Ben taught us, “With great power comes great responsibility”- and I just used that power to google the phrase “porn about chicken noodle soup” without a second thought.

What a fucking privilege.

Truly.

It is a privilege to act as stupid as I do on the World Wide Interwebs and I want to ensure I remain grateful for that privilege as well as limit the amount of time I spend watching cat videos and comedy sketches about fake porn stars. And thanks to my Catholic upbringing, I know that there is no better way to remain grateful for something than to deprive yourself of it. I’m referring to the ancient ritual of “fasting”.

And while I no longer believe in the Judeo-Christian God I grew up with, I am grateful to my parents for raising me in a faith that reveres the observation of ritualistic worship practices. Various studies in the fields of psychology and anthropology have actually found positive correlations between rituals and healthy brain functioning, specifically in the development of crazy adolescent brains. In college, I wrote a shitty paper about this very notion. But here is a link to a much shorter and more broadly interesting article written by someone with a PhD about how rituals can actually decrease feelings of anxiety, which is one of my least favorite feelings in the world.

So- fasting is a cool ancient ritual and the importance and potentially positive effects of practicing rituals are, like, scientifically proven and shit. Also, rituals don’t have to be religious, they just have to mean something to the observer. Also, contrary to how it might appear on the surface, fasting is not about focusing on the things you’re fasting from, it’s about finding and creating space where the things you’re fasting from used to be and then, most importantly, intentionally filling that space with things that add value and a sense of purpose and meaning to your current state of affairs. And that is why I’m not fasting from the entire internet.

I find many things online that add value and meaning to my life, such as this blog, because I know there are a few people who actually read it. And that fills me with a sense of purpose.

But as for Facebook and Instagram…holy shit can I waste my life on social media. One minute I’m innocently looking at my friend’s wedding photos and the next thing I know four hours have gone by and I can tell you the name, birthday and favorite holiday of my cousin’s best friend’s brother’s veterinarian’s aunt’s cousin. (Elizabeth, born August 17, 1993, Christmas.)

Basically, if I am not intentional about the way I interact with the world digitally, I risk interacting with the world superficially. Although, for the record, interacting with the world on a surface level is abso-fucking-lutely okay sometimes. I fucking love cat videos and creeping on people on my way down the rabbit hole of online social media connections. I can’t get enough, man. In fact, I got so bored within 47 minutes of discontinuing use of my Facebook and Instagram accounts, I decided to check out the ol’ Tinder account I hadn’t used for a couple years and I swear to all gods this is what I found, memorialized in the seedy underbelly of “dating” apps:

spiderman

Yep. There I am. And seeing myself at this level of idiocy that I had completely forgot about brought me the greatest, deepest joy.

I’m not hating on stupid internet shenanigans in the slightest, you guys.

I’m not suggesting we need to examine our lives from every angle at every moment.

But I am suggesting that sometimes it is abso-fucking-lutely necessary to step away from the parts of the world (digital and otherwise) that are constantly asking for our attention without honoring our intention, to think deeply about how we are moving through these spaces, to ensure we are still asking the big, hard, good questions about why we are here and what in the actual fuck we are supposed to be doing with all this Life we’ve been given. And while I don’t expect to ever have a completely satisfying answer to those questions, I do know that asking them always lights up another candle in what can be a very dark, little world.

Here’s to lighting some matches.

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret

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