With the rise of the greatest invention of the 20-21st century, the Internet, deeply psychological studies of epic proportions have been swirling around its massive sociological impact, for good and for evil, on individuals, families, communities, nations, and worlds. While the church has all buildings wired for the Internet, said Internet has also become a force multiplier for world-wide secret societies of child pornographers. Recent experiences taught me that the Internet is neither inherently evil nor wholly worth embracing for its essential goodness- it just needs to be tamed.
Let’s start off with one essential, elemental fact- I am an information junkie. Knowing things, just for the sake of knowing them, is a hobby. When true love results in marriage, partners often learn about each other’s oddities that need to be endured or reformed. My new wife quickly learned that I liked to visit museums, and when we did, I would read everything… EVERYTHING (caps lock accurately convey my wife’s opinion). Every plaque, every description, every notation. Fortunately for me, this was an element of my character she chose to endure.
Pre-Internet age had me dreaming of someday owning an information junkie man cave- a staidly library filled floor-to-ceiling with books proudly displaying my love of knowing things, often regardless of their practical applications. For several years my wife’s birthday present to me consisted of unlimited hours in a large bookstore with an unusually large book budget, browsing the aisles and teasing myself with the next new thing I would learn. The arrival of the Internet changed all that.
When the Internet and its associated technologies arrived, it didn’t take long for me to embrace and apply it to my life-long addiction to information. I daydreamed of extremely portable large stores of information accessible via netbooks and e-readers long before Kindles became reality. Lazy weekend wanderings through Amazon’s endless book selection quickly replaced bookstore browsing sessions, and now I’m content with carrying around my information man cave of over 1,000 books (yes, that’s what I said- over 1,000 books- that should impress you) in my Kindle Fire HDX with 64G of storage. Plus, there was no real need to visit museums and historical sites anymore- there was so much more available via Wikipedia and Google than the pithy narrations on display plaques. The most current wrinkle in satisfying the information hobby is to look up in Wikipedia the hometowns of musical reality show (the Voice, the Sing-off, American Idol, etc) contestants that I’m watching with my wife.
An Internet Vacation
Imagine my terror, then, when we decided to visit my budget-conscious son and his wife living blissfully under the sunny skies of Arizona for a week, who have… no… wifi IN THEIR APARTMENT!! How would I survive?
The week has gone surprisingly well. I am being forced to spend a few moments each night down by the pool in their apartment complex accessing public wifi and responding only to the most urgent emails, and actually reading through some of the 1,000+ books on my Kindle- somewhat of an Internet vacation. Similar to documented efforts to break a debilitating laptop addiction several years ago, I rediscovered the clever company of my wife, my son, and his wife.
I also had a chance to rediscover what the kaleidoscope of life must have been like before the Internet took over. We took a day trip to the infamous mining ghost town of Jerome, Arizona. We spent a slow afternoon visiting a few local museums and reading how the ruling residents of Jerome cleverly overcame the hardship of the large evil mining conglomerate from shutting down the town by intentionally reinventing themselves as the world’s largest ghost town. We also visited the world’s largest kaleidoscope store, Nellie Bly II, and were amazing engaged by the undiscovered world of pre-Internet entertainment. I had a kaleidoscope when I was a kid.
So… does the current kaleidoscope of my life include keeping the Internet as just one of the tools to view life? I hope so. I’m ready to tame the Internet, but not abandon it.