Monday, April 23, 2012

Escaping the Black Vortex of the Internet

It's like "Escape from LA," just the only switch is on my computer...

From left to right: My best friend Tom, myself, and my husband Peter.  This photo was taken on Peter's mid-deployment leave from Afghanistan.  We've been best friends forever.  Peter's giving Tom a playful jack to the stomach (I hope it's his stomach...)

I have a little problem with the internet.  It's connected to my argument problem, which I discuss here, but a touch more generalized than that.

I like The Real World.  A lot - I'd rather be in it and participating in The Real World than stuck behind a computer.  I actually hate computers and have a hypothesis about how they play a role in depression and anxiety in modern culture.

And I do.  I genuinely do participate in The Real World at every opportunity.

Peter's mid-deployment leave last October, when he, his parents and I visited a petting zoo at a pumpkin farm.  

Another shot at the petting zoo, this time with my mother in law.  It was sweet for everyone to go because I realized as we were looking at all the animals I was the only one really feeding them and petting them. 
Halloween with my nephews.  I dressed up.  The one on the left is Alex; I'm holding Nicky.  Nicky plays a surprisingly large role in my life.

My problem is, as I see it, that I worry that people find me uninteresting.  The idea that there's billions of people on the internet and the vast majority really aren't interested in anything I have to say is disturbing.

I don't have a whole heck of a lot of friends.  I mean, I have friendly colleagues, my friends from church and people from high school I see sometimes.  But, at the same time, I don't have a lot of "real" friends: people I see every week who really, really know me.

But I do have some.  Tom is one of them.

Yesterday Tom and I went for our weekly coffee.  We do it literally every week; sometimes with my father in law, but usually alone.

This week we added a new dimension: chess.  We talk about everything over coffee, but chess was particularly fun because we both love to play games.

Tom - like church, like my nephews - gets me away from the computer and out to where I'd rather be.

But I get lonely during the week.  Maybe that's absurd; I don't think so.  I also want to talk about things that make me really think.

While you might think a scientist gets to think a lot, in reality it's mostly just like every other job: a beancounter sitting in front of a computer organizing and plotting things like databases.  Maybe 5% is actual thinking, and I've found that 5% is the worst bit because it can really get you into trouble.

Me in my old office with the broken whiteboard.  This was before I got my new office with a window.  It was taken last summer, which is why I'm not wearing nice cloths.
I don't think science is going to work out.  Not just because the actual work of it makes me unhappy - and it does - but because funding cuts and the sheer number of people who now have PhDs in relevant disciplines make finding a permanent, well-paying (>$35,000 a year) job virtually impossible.

So I tend to use the internet as a distraction as well.  I keep looking to it - like I look at religion - as a solution to a problem.  When I don't know what to do, I go into Information Gathering Mode.

I could ramble more like this, but I think I'll just stop here.  It may become a regular blog post: Escaping the Black Vortex of the Internet.


  1. There are people I KNOW on the Internet I like better than the people I KNOW in real life. That would include you, BTW.

  2. I like you, too. I always get the strange sense there's a lot of layers to you; maybe that's the diversity of your interests.

    But internet communication is so delicate and wrought with problems. How many times have you talked to someone on the internet only to have them suddenly just evaporate for no apparent reason?

    I feel more "real" here, though. I feel like in daily life there's so much we're straining not to say. As though we're trying not to break the illusion of how awesome everything is.

  3. I get Shrek references. That's why everybody thinks I'm cool. :-)