What happens when you run out of online information to look through and react to? What’s there to keep you interested in stuff that makes you furious, sad, pleased, or all of the above at the same time? What can Facebook, Google, or Twitter do to hold your attention and keep you coming back like a zombie hungry for more? Is this a new feature? A change to the algorithm? Nope. It all comes back to you at the end of the day. When there isn’t enough to entice you back in, it’ll be up to you to keep you occupied. Not only are these corporations forcing us to pursue our own tails, but they may also be harming our mental health. That’s what happened to mine, and it took me a long time to figure it out.
History: My involvement with the internet began when I was about 12 years old. I’m 42, so I’ve had 30 years of “education.” That makes me both pleased and afraid. I’ve seen every major platform grow, and I’ve always been fascinated by the social aspects of things — even on bulletin board systems when there were only two phone lines available for people to connect to. I was the oddball that waited for someone else to get on so I could greet them with a “HI HOW ARE YOU WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” And sure, I was just as obnoxious on that version of the internet.
For me, the need and need to connect has always existed, and computers have just made it simpler. Millions of individuals helped me cope with a cancer diagnosis in 2009, and it would be the most Boomer thing I could possibly do to pivot and claim the internet is terrible for you. But here I am, stating the obvious: the internet may be harmful to your health, and you are a more eager participant than you realize. Is it because of the trolls and horrible individuals that lurk behind internet screens, tearing you down, making fun of your appearance, and speaking horribly about your sexual preferences or skin color?
Partially: However, the dirty little secret is that your biggest internet foe could be you. It’s certainly the case for me and some of the people I’ve talked to during the last two years, which have seen the strangest simultaneous slowdown and speedup of technology in the last 30 years. The technology itself hasn’t progressed much, but the need and desire to interact with people has.