The disconnect of using the internet

I’ve been thinking about this article on Robin Williams for a while, but haven’t had a chance to really express my thoughts on it till now:

Our ability to take just about any event and turn it into an online argument is one of our modern society’s mentally unhealthy habits. In fact, if we wanted to build a culture that deliberately cultivated feelings of depression, isolation, anger, and despair, how different would it look from the one we have now?

The first key aspect of this perfect depressive dystopia would be to get as many people as possible interacting with screens, instead of with flesh-and-blood human beings, as often as possible. (Pause for the irony that you’re almost certainly reading this on a screen.) Prevalent aspects of human contact from the dawn of human civilization — eye contact, tone of voice, volume of voice, sarcasm and inflection, posture, body language — would be removed from the increasingly common forms of communication, and everyone would spend as much time as possible interpreting the true meaning of hieroglyphics that are supposed to resemble human faces. Miscommunications, perceived insults, and fights would grow apace.

This depressive world would remove the tactile sensation of human touch, expressed in a romantic and sexual sense but also in the gestures of a handshake, a hand on the shoulder, a hug, a pat on the back. Entire friendships would begin and end online, with the individuals never interacting in person.

This might be one of the reasons I’ve never really threw myself into blogging the way others have.  As much as I enjoy expressing myself in the written form, I’m ever mindful of the fact that I must constantly pull my punches in order not to draw the ire of an anonymous internet, which has no aversion to completely destroying and ruining the lives of people simply because of a difference in opinion.  I’m not an actual human being whose philosophy has been driven in large part by his life experience.  I’m merely words on a screen to be attacked with all the rage and furor of a demon hellbeast because my words don’t fit the prescribed and acceptable Narrative of the Day.

The constantly online life would undoubtedly come at the expense of the offline life. People would interact with their neighbors less. There would be fewer shared social experiences — the social phenomenon of Bowling Alone on steroids. The offline world would seem more full of strangers, more suspicious, more potentially dangerous, full of vivid, widely covered stories of violence and wrongdoing reminding us to not trust each other.

The constant online presence would lead to a world of nonstop instant reaction, where everyone could immediately transmit the first thought that popped into his head in response to news. Everyone’s first reaction would become his defining reaction, particularly if it’s dumb or knee-jerk. If it was racist, sexist, hateful, or obnoxious, even better. Those horrified would then share and retweet it to their friends and followers, spreading the perception that the world was overpopulated with hateful idiots, and that average Americans — or average human beings! — were rather nasty, ignorant creatures unworthy of respect or affection….

The widespread perception that almost everyone else was a moron — why, just look at the things people post and say on the Internet! — would facilitate a certain philosophy of narcissism; we would have people walking around convinced they’re much smarter, and much more sophisticated and enlightened, than everyone else.

I think I may be more sensitive to this than most, because of a combination of introversion and inability to hear normally, the internet isn’t merely a place of escape as it tends to be for others; it’s where I actually live (as horrific an admission as that might be).  Heck I even bought my car online.

I seem to forget that the average internet user is only submerged in this strange online world a couple of blow-off hours a day, while I’m here all day. I work here.

And sometimes I forget my imperative to disconnect and then I wind up playing here after having worked here all day.

As much as the internet tends to provide huge benefits to people like me, along with the freedom of not being tied down to a cubicle in some dark corner of the office, it’s also brought about a mentally unhealthy disconnect that I’m seeking to correct.  I’ve made the assumption for too long that how I use the internet is also how nearly everyone else uses it, and due to that assumption, there’s been no end of frustration trying to connect to people who live most of their lives (sociably and otherwise) off-line.

To some extent I blame the area I live in now, the bubble of Long Island that has made it nearly impossible for me to connect to the communities (or lack thereof) here in a meaningful way.  There are, as couples approaching the end would say, irreconcilable differences between me and this place, leaving me no other recourse but to simply move.  Dealing with the hostility of what I’ve come to regard as a truly evil place has driven me ever inward and deeper into my personal man cave, reducing any outings to quick runs at the supermarket after hours.

This isn’t fanciful thinking either; I’ve read far too many emails from people who left New York telling me stories of how their lives were completely transformed by the move.  They could finally spread their wings like a butterfly and explore the world around them with a sense of joy and peace.

I’ve come to realize the internet simply can’t replicate that; there are certain things I can only truly appreciate the fullness of by living it in real life rather than online.

Tying up loose ends

Man, I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last post.  I’m still hoping to blog semi-regularly, but it’s taken some time to adjust to a new routine, working a job that operates on a completely different level than what I’ve normally become accustomed to.  The mind needed a reawakening period, with synapses that hadn’t been fired in years suddenly being jumpstarted as I take on new responsibilities that require me to actually think about what I do for a living now.

I’m now deep into a transitional period as I try to grapple with what loose ends I need to tie up before I pull the trigger on a permanent move.  Who knew transitional periods could be so… transitional?

One of those things has involved slimming down my stuff even more and maximizing my desk space.  I decided to treat my MacBook as an all in one desktop/notebook solution, planning to eventually ditch the huge desktop PC I have now for a docked solution (called a Henge Dock), something I can easily dock my MacBook to with all the wires already in place.  Kinda cool as I explore this and figure out how to ideally optimize my home office productivity.

It also occured to me that there’s still some unfinished business in regards to New York City.  Despite loving the city (as opposed to hating Long guuyyYYyland), there’s still a few bucket list items I’d like to cross off while I’m here.  I still have yet to visit the Statue of Liberty for one, and it’s been ages since I’ve been to the Met, or explored all of Central Park, or visited a myriad of the other wonders the city had to offer.  Once I leave it’s not likely that I’ll ever come back, so I’m planning to set aside some time and play tourist to rediscover Manhattan… one last time.

I also need to rework my finances and divvy them up according to what I earmark them for (a house, a car, portfolio, savings, etc.)   I’m fortunate enough to be debt-free with enough of a nest egg that I can make a completely fresh start once I move.  Thank you, Lord.

I’m also working on a complete medical workup to make sure all systems are green across the board, that all my rabies shots are up to date, and I’ve been thoroughly de-warted.

And of course there’s my future hearing dog too, who I hope to pick up in Colorado and keep permanently, maybe sooner than expected.

Overall, the tail end of 2014 is going to be crazy, with so many things in a state of transition and upheaval, but I welcome it all, because it’s been infused with a renewed hope that I will finally break out of this wilderness, and into the promised land that I’ve sort for so long.

Beautiful Highway with Sunset and Mountains

A summer of change

I’ve been REALLY light with the blogging this month, but there’s been a reason for that as I had to focus my attention on changes that were happening in my life, and not simply small, weenie, non-consequential changes, I mean life altering, big time, “wormhole portals into alternative dimensions” like changes.

So here it is: for the first time in many years, I have a NEW job.  And not just a new job, THE one that I’ve been looking for, a career opportunity that could finally unshackle me from the confines of living in the hellish landscape that is Long Island, New York, and free me AT LAST to move to a destination of my choosing.

THE DOOR HAS BEEN OPENED

Or, as Vigo in Ghostbusters would say, “WHAT IS WILL BE NO MORE.”

Bill and Ted saying WHOA

So what does this mean for the immediate future? For now it means my life just got a whole lot busier, so I probably won’t have as much time to blog as I used to, and when I do blog, the tone of it will change significantly to reflect these new (and positive) life changes. It also means the next 12 months will be a transitional one, as I work to prove my chops and be a permanent asset of the company that was crazy en… err I mean smart enough to hire me. I’ve been given enough generous leeway to grow at my own pace and shake off the cobwebs of my brain that haven’t been used since the turn of the century. As far as career changes go, I couldn’t have asked for a better job to help me transition from one industry to another. I believe it is only a matter of time now before I can finally pull the trigger on moving out of New York and to, at long last, a better place, where the people are friendlier, the cost of living isn’t insane, and I can still enjoy a delicious latte in town every morning.

I wish I could leave NOW, but I can’t make any immediate plans until I see where this job leads. Thankfully though, I won’t have to wait too long. In the meantime I can start researching and getting my ducks in a row, getting rid of stuff I don’t need, and putting all my affairs in order so I’m ready for when that day finally arrives: the day I leave New York forever.

I’m still in a state of shock. Before it was just a dream, but to think within a year it could become a reality? INCONCEIVABLE!!!!

Did I mention I’m in shock?  Yep, I’m in shock.  I’m not there yet, but a major, MAJOR hurdle was cleared, and as they often say when it comes to career changes, once you’re on the inside, it’s a lot easier to move around from there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go have babyback ribs to celebrate.

A window into heaven

Last month I spent two glorious weeks in Colorado, hanging out at a cabin neatly tucked away in one of the wrinkles of the San Juan mountains near Durango. As an extra bonus I got to keep Bonnie, my future hearing dog for those two weeks as well. Up to that point I was still unsure if I had what it took to keep and care for a dog, but we had such a great time together that I was really encouraged and more confident than ever that she would complete her training and soon become my dog for good, maybe by Christmas time.

Snowing at a Cabin in Colorado

It was snowing but this was the best kind of snow: one that doesn’t stay on the ground!

I was really nervous the first night Bonnie and I spent together, almost convinced that I would wake up in the morning to all kinds of love droppings on the carpet that I’d have to clean up, or that Bonnie would completely freak, jump through a window and run to destinations unknown, never to be seen again.  But she behaved near perfectly, almost like she understood I was new to all of this.

American Alsatian wearing a vest

Morning time with Bonnie!

As each day went on things got a lot easier, and I began to fall into a comfortable daily routine.  I’m typically a homebody who rarely likes to leave his man cave, but Bonnie forced me out of my shell, and my usual routine literally changed over night: instead of staying up till 2AM, I went to bed early and got up early, went out for morning walks, enjoyed coffee by the pond, and even talked to some of the guests that were staying in other cabins.  Just the routine of walking and feeding a dog seemed to stabilize my life and kick me out of those unhealthy, sedentary habits (like sitting in front of a computer all day).

Dog exploring cabin grounds

I think I heard a bunny!

After a few days I began to explore the area more, including taking a day trip to Silverton, one of the most picturesque old mining towns this side of Colorado.

Main Street in Silverton

Main Street in Silverton

I was a pleasure to take Bonnie everywhere I went, but our day trip to Silverton was probably the best.  This is where the famous Durango-Silverton train stops, but I opted to take the drive from Durango to Silverton instead, and I’m glad I did.

The road to Silverton, traveling on the Million Dollar Highway

The road to Silverton, traveling on the Million Dollar Highway

I took a leisurely drive just outside of Silverton and found a small park for Bonnie and I to hang out at.  The views of the valley here leading into town were incredible.  I could have stayed in that spot all day.

American Alsatian dog poses in front of mountains

Yep, I think I’ll build a doghouse right here…

All in all, it was a great trip, giving me plenty of time to unwind, experience life with a dog, and get just a little slice of the dream life that I’ve always yearned for: a place in the mountains with a faithful, wolfish looking dog, and of course, good pizza.

Snow capped mountains and lake near Surango

I think I’ll live right… there…

You can check out the rest of the photos I took at Flickr:

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