Sunday, September 2, 2007

Online Addictions

Maybe people claim that they are addicted to being online, some are serious addicts who need to pull the plug on the computer or turn it off, but many simply spend a lot of time on the Internet, looking at things and reading about all the world has to offer. I consider myself part of the later group. After all, I do have a blog.

But i do more than just work with Lo Specchio e La Spugna, I am on Facebook and Wikipedia too, and recently I've just gotten into Craigslist. It is amazing how much people are willing to give, especially in the personals section. Of course many of the postings are not serious there, but I have been looking at the writing gigs, going to magazines that need submissions and sending in some of my work. It is a fantastic device for bringing people together, the essence of the Internet. If you need something, there is a good chance you will be able to find it on there.

Because I am a writer, I also spend time looking at literary sites. One of them is Cosmoetica, which I like because its author is very open and honest with his criticism and I learn a lot from his dissection of poetry modern and old. I don't always agree with him, but I don't agree with myself half the time. He helps me understand what I believe. Also, I go on a lot of sites with information for writers, listings of literary magazines and calls for submissions to anthologies. The New Pages guide has a good list with information for every magazine they feature. The Writer's Directory is another good one.

The problem with all of this information and then reading about submissions and what my friends are up to, is that it gets in the way of working. I don't end up with anything as tangible as a finished poem or short story. It does not affect my friendships and going out, but I do admit to missing a meal or a shower because I was engrossed in something online. I'm sure you all can relate, I know this is not a rare issue.

What I am wondering is why we do it? We usually have something else we could be doing, something that once finished will usually give us more pleasure than the slight buzz of finding out about the atomic weight of Gold or what group our best friend in high school just joined on Facebook. This only applies IF there is an alternative. If you have nothing better to do, truly nothign better, then going online and reading and browsing makes more sense. It would be like going out for a stroll at night because everyone is out of town.

I think the reason we spend so much time online to the detriment of activities we know we will appreciate, is that we are in a sense addicted to the feeling of control the internet gives us. We can keep tabs on people we know, learn about countries and celebrities, see the weather wherever we want, and submit our work to communities for evaluation. It is especially tempting when we live in a world where so much of it is beyond comprhension. So much is beyond our control and we are reminded of it more than every before, thanks in no small part to the very internet we look fo rinformation on.

One might say it is a cruel paradox, the thing that we spend all our time on drives us to it. Online news stories and headlines remind us of a world that is at our fingertips, but refuses to let us pet it or do tricks for us. Perhaps it is best to cut out the internet of one's life, or maybe instead to embrace fully that one has such little econtrol, but reading about it, thinking about it, and wasting time trying to dance aroud it, will not do. We need to do something that truly does give us a feeling of control. We must create.