Sometimes I love the internet. When I’m looking for something to procrastinate with – like pictures of cats, cats falling off things, anything by Adam Buxton, or this cricket match for example. Or when it helps me find out that an Texan senator is fillibustering for 11 hours straight to stop a bill being passed that would be massively detrimental to women’s rights. Or when it allows me to watch a man jump out of a rocket and land safely on earth. Or allows me to find out who Charlotte Despard is when I wonder who a pub is named after. That’s when my computer really is the “everything machine”.
But there are times when I really don’t like the internet. Or more specifically the people who use the internet. The problem with it is this. Everyone has an opinion. But now everyone can publish their opinion. And everyone else can argue against their opinion. I’m not a big fan of argument for argument’s sake. I’m not really a big fan of arguing. I do debate things, but I don’t actually enjoy it, and unless I’m in a really bad mood you won’t find me playing devil’s advocate that often. I’m emphatic. That is true, but not overly argumentative. And the internet is REALLY argumentative. People just HAVE to say what they think about something someone else has done. I have a rule that I never read the comments section of anything. And the reason is the arguments. If you read the comments section you’ll disagree with someone on there, and then there appears to be a temptation to TELL them. And if you can’t tell them on the comments section, why not find the email address, or Facebook page, or twitter account of the person you disagree with and tell them there instead? I left Facebook a while ago because someone I didn’t know felt the need to argue with me about something I’d said to a mutual friend. That wasn’t the only reason I left. It was one of many but it was the final straw. My mate Wendy wrote this for the Huffington Post. I liked it, but a lot of people didn’t. I didn’t feel the need to tell her I liked it, but boy, do people feel the need to tell her they don’t!
I suppose what I hate is the negativity of it all. We are so quick to tell people when we don’t like something. And I don’t know why. Why do we take it so personally when a piece of art, or comedy, or writing isn’t to our personal taste or doesn’t fit with our politics and beliefs? I don’t like a lot of stuff, but I have rarely been so incensed by a bad piece of theatre or art or television or a blog that I’ve felt the need to tell the world. If I don’t like something, I stop reading it or watching it. Or I make all of my friends watch it so that they can feel my pain. But I don’t think (and I may be wrong) I’ve ever felt the need to comment about it on a public forum. I’m not talking about important things, like torture or human rights or a journalist slagging off a dead pop star with erroneous facts (I did complain vociferously and publicly about that). I’m talking about whether people like The Wright Way or not. And I don’t mean making a jokey comment about it, I mean when people get self-righteous and angry and aggressive or insulting about something and start a verbal fight.
Maybe it’s that we now think that a facebook friend is a real friend? So me texting friends, “Turn on BBC1 now, I insist. You must see this execrable waste of talent, time, money and energy”, is the equivalent of someone else saying, “U are rubbish, I hate ur views, Rgue with me” online. I’m aware that this blog is opinion. But I write this more for myself than anything else, because writing this is a good way of kickstarting my brain for proper writing work. And I’ve disabled the comments section (mostly because all I get in response is “Hey I like your words you wrote, this is a good blog, now check out this website www.getyourcreditcarddetailsstolenyouidiot.com”) and I don’t have a contact me section (or at least I don’t think I do because I’m technologically inept and need someone else to set that up for me) I’ve done this not because I don’t care about other people’s views, but because I don’t care to argue. And because if you don’t agree with what I say you can write your own blog saying so, and I will read it and think, “Oh, I don’t agree with that” and then go and eat some foam bananas that I won at a pub quiz. Which reminds me. I won some foam bananas at a pub quiz last night. I’m off to eat the spoils of my general knowledge. And leave you with a reason to love the internet. (but you might hate me afterwards – it’s very very catchy…)