I always feel better when I am not on the internet.
That’s a difficult thing to admit when you write an online newsletter once a week. It’s true though, and being honest with yourself and others
can make you feel a lot better. That’s what I learned in an article … on the internet.
When I am online, I hunt for ideas that confirm my biases, and I gravitate towards content relating to psychology, mindfulness, well-being, socio-economics, relationships and the general state of the world. I’ve moved away from politics, policy and technology to focus more on these new areas of interest. ‘E’ may be for ‘everything’, but I am human and, therefore, I have biases, interests and a particular point of view — all of which change with time.
That doesn't mean the things I read about today make me feel all warm and fuzzy all the time. In fact, they make me feel the opposite. You might say I am a bit of a masochist when it comes to curating my reading list. Following my biases and point of view on the internet these days leads me to articles such as one about the former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and his thoughts on the ways in which workplace environments exacerbate our national epidemic of loneliness
. Then there's Bret Stephens’s case for why the art of disagreement is dying
or another piece that runs through the facts and figures that show how marriage is becoming a mark of privilege
. Then there’s an opinion piece that leaves me feeling as if I better take care when I call something a “distraction” now
lest I selfishly put myself at the center of the universe, or something.
Loneliness, dying arts, ensconced privilege and selfishly framing of issues and debates ... yeah, I could stand to lighten things up a bit.
The unfortunate truth is, I spend a lot of time on the internet, both for work and play, and I know better than most that bad news and fear sell. While informative and interesting, pieces like these also leave me feeling antsy. I usually finish each article thinking, Yes, but please, someone, give me something to do about it all!
I may not be able to solve the loneliness epidemic, but I can do
something even if it's trivial and selfishly brings me joy.
The magical thing about the internet, is it is full of how-tos. So, recently, I've resolved that I should use the internet for more constructive pursuits in addition to reading about others' ideas. By this I mean, I should more regularly read or watch videos
about learning to sketch, or go online with the intent of learning about how to make mini terrariums
. The internet is a great place to learn more about how to transition my wardrobe back to business casual
after having invested heavily in D.C. formal.
These are the things I should be reading and watching on the internet … and perhaps even writing about.
So, I will — at least I will try. I won’t leave the issues of the world behind. Dr. Murthy’s observations and research on loneliness are incredibly powerful and reassuring even if they do make me a little sad. But I will try to orient myself towards sharing more constructive content, including more about how to do new things (new to me, at least).
The internet is a tool, after all, and it can be used as a mental butt cushion or a springboard back out into the real world. Hopefully, by this time next week, I will have a picture of a terrarium to share with you. No promises, though. I’ll just leave you with this piece on E.E. Cummings from Brain Pickings
and this quote:
"To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
Have a great week, everyone.
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Oh, before I go, there are robber barons of free time and peace of mind online and in the real world too, as Stanford Professor and all-around awesome person Bob Sutton outlines in this interview in Vox about his latest book, “The Asshole Survival Guide”
. ('Talk about a how-to!) The best piece of advice Bob has here (among many good pieces): don’t let an asshole see you giving a sh*t. To that I’ll add: ...and don’t let them distract you from fighting that hardest battle of being your amazing you. 😉