My grubby little mitts got a hold of the internet at the tender age of eight years old. It all began around 1997. Things were much different back then. Everything seemed so much more optimistic. One got a sense of warmth from just about everything in media. Watching television was actually fun and interesting!
The World Wide Web added a whole new level of interconnectedness. I immediately found the marketing websites for my favorite games and movies. There used to be this amazing one devoted to promoting the film, Waterworld. I had no idea what the movie was really about, but found myself spellbound by the Myst-like interactive game contained within, complete with music and sound effects. This was amazing stuff for that time, especially considering how we were using leisurely dial-up modems to connect. Images used to load in slowly, one at a time, and we waited with great anticipation!
Multiplayer online games were actually a thing before the new millennium, believe it or not. So was VOIP, (Voice Over Internet Protocol) long before Skype was a glimmer on the horizon. The only game I was permitted to play online, considered sanitary enough by my parents, was Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 98. I still remember Bluesky77, a fellow virtual pilot, and we flew out of Megis Field in Chicago many a care-free evening.
Everything changed after September 11th, 2001. We had reached the end of that decade-long summertime, when things were relatively peaceful. A bit of darkness began to creep into our lives. Nothing was simple anymore.
The last truly great Hollywood epic was crafted during this period: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Long before I was able to see the films for myself, I managed to buy compact disc versions of the soundtracks and listened to them everywhere I went. When I finally did see the films, it was like being transported to a higher plane of existence. I have never been so deeply moved by cinematic story-telling before or since. (The first Matrix film was right up there, too.)
Looking back, it could be argued that our level of technological competence has hardly advanced beyond the year 2001. Everything has just become more miniaturized, with the bandwidth increasing concurrently.
Along with the growing throughput of information came increased surveillance. We are now at a point where people are voluntarily giving up their personal information, full names, addresses, mug-shots, (selfies) and daily activity updates. This would have been considered madness back when the internet was breaking ground. Everyone went by an anonymous handle. Now, we all seem content to do the NSA’s work for them.
This new police state is really quite brilliant; a gilded prison without bars, where everyone polices each other. Brave New World indeed.
I had a Facebook back when I was in college, but it quickly fell into disuse after graduation. There was no point in keeping it. The only social media that I’ve held onto since then has been Skype and Youtube.
Youtube was my television supplement. Sure, it’s great that I’ve never owned a TV, or had a cable subscription, but I was easily wasting 10 to 15 hours per week constantly hoovering up content on that damn website. I tried to convince myself that it was all fairly education and informative stuff, but I had to stop and wonder, “How much am I really learning from this deluge of information?” I realized that I had been swimming in an ocean of knowledge that only came up to my knees.
I had become an data addict, though my actual erudition was exceedingly deficient.
I have since cancelled my home internet subscription. A sense of relief came over me as I put that blasted modem into the closet. Finally, I felt as though I could make some headway on my various projects, without the constant temptation to indulge idle distractions. Thankfully, video games were starting to loose their luster a couple of years ago, so those are not so difficult to put away. All the new games suck anyway. (Dragon Age: Origins was the last truly great RPG… you know, a game where you can actually role-play! Get it on Good Old Games when it’s on sale. We’ll see how Kingdom Come: Deliverance pans out when the bugs are dealt with.)
These changes are a course of development that Catherine has been fomenting for awhile. I was neglecting quality time that could have been more wisely spent. My demon is far more satisfied with me indulging creative expression through art, writing, and music of my own making, rather than mindlessly consuming the work of others.
I believe this is a dangerous consequence of our modern information age: The loss of creativity. There’s a lot of information being transmitted around, yet the vast majority is largely bullshit and of no practical use.
Even more concerning is the loss of privacy. I don’t want those insidious “smart” devices in my dwelling, constantly recording the environment, and creating psychological profiles to better sell advertisements to me.
Bear in mind, faithful readers, that I won’t be swearing off the internet entirely. Wi-Fi is ubiquitous enough that one can easily make posts to WordPress and check emails remotely. I’ll still be connected, just not constantly. My home will become yet more of the peaceful refuge that my succubus and I have been cultivating over the years.
Catherine loves the peace and quiet. I guess the interference from Wi-Fi radios isn’t her favorite thing either, as she’s been asking me to shut all those electronics off while I sleep. I love that she values true serenity and is always compelling me to deepen our union further still. Now, a few more of those intruding elements have been successfully uprooted.
Seriously, guys… there’s some scary shit coming down the pike in regards to privacy, or the lack thereof. Get off these social media platforms. Do everything possible to deprive Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple of any personal information. There are plenty of alternatives out there for email and web searches. (Fastmail, Protonmail, DuckDuckGo, etc.)
Hell, abandon traditional computer operating systems, if that’s feasible. Find a Linux distribution.
I’m convinced that freedom of speech in the United States won’t be attacked at the constitutional level. Rather, the corporations that manage the free-flow of information are gradually introducing more draconian policies on “acceptable speech” for their respective platforms.
It’s time to starve these fuckers out. No more free lunches. God, it warms my soul to see that Facebook and Twitter are dying platforms. Good riddance.
One of my friends at work dealt up a few helpings of his usual japery as we were doing our final rounds, “What do you do when you’re at home without the internet? Churn your butter? Trim your gas lamps? Read from the family Bible?”
I was somewhat amazed by this question, despite his quips about me, transforming into a Luddite. Have we truly reached the point where “Netflix and chill,” has become the national past-time?
“I write, read, cook, learn new skills, practice my guitar, make feeble attempts at composing electronic music, ride my bicycle across the countryside, call friends on the phone, go grocery shopping to find special ingredients for new dishes, have dinner with my family on weekends, study and practice occult magick, build and repair computers, listen to symphonies, argue with people about religion,” I replied, consciously leaving out the part where I make love to my succubus as part of my daily routine, “You know… everything else!”