The Internet is making me stupid

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I lay before you my first piece of evidence, the title of this post. For while it is true, much like the worms that I feel are eating my brain each time I sit in front of the computer/pick up my phone/grab the ipad, it is obvious, not very eloquent and does not contribute to anyone else´s well being… These are some of the faults I feel can be applied to the whole ball of wax that is my use of the world wide web as well. I feel the need to clarify that this is a personal opinion and not a commentary on the Internet as an institution itself. It would be utterly foolish of me to claim that the vast amounts of information now available to students, researchers, teachers, politicians and so many more important positions are stupid or are making other people stupid. But since I am simply a working mother with a healthy interest in world affairs, I am not using the internet and its resources for some greater good as I would like to. Rather I´m afraid it is making me dumber.

I have often hoped maybe I am just doing it wrong, that there actually is really interesting and edifying content out there I am simply too ill informed or lazy to find. I am in a rut, as evidenced by my favorites bar at the top of my browser, which extends to hidden list on the side and  which show trends that run true and deep. Among the favorites are classics like: two food blogs that I once read but then took offense at some comment made or storebought ingredient used which I have no hope of find here in BA and therefore no longer visit. They are joined by the online job search and telecomuter website I signed up for and don´t use, the animal shelter I would like my family to volunteer at one Saturday but have never been to, and a link to Rage Against the Minivan, my favorite mommy blog which is probably the only button I actually ever click on.

I am over the large majority of the “mommy blogs” I have read in the past, finding that other people´s navel gazing or cute pictures of their kids (who I don´t actually know and therefore in the flood of “cute” images one sees these days, are not actually that cute….). I don´t need their advise, don´t find their cooking tips to be of any use (Food52 maybe, but not hacks on how to make chicken nuggets healthy by serving them in a woven nest of shredded carrots, for Christ´s sake!, give me a break) and actually really enjoy my children´s company, pretty much all the time (it´s not a lie, but I work too, so during the week I see them for a grand total of about 5 hours a day, which anyone will tell you is totally manangeable…). I hate to sound smug, but my kids are pretty clean, their bodily functions always happen when and where they are supposed to, both intake and outtake. Which means that crumbs and “explosions” as I believe they are called, are kept to a minimum. I guess even if these things did happen, I sure wouldn´t feel like telling everyone I know and a shitload of people I don´t even know about them and that is the main reason my previous fascination with the world of mommy blogs has suddenly and mysteriously dried up. Mysteriously because now in the clear light of  my own personal “the internet is stupid” day, I wonder why I ever cared in the first place.

I have subscriptions to The Week and the New York Times, which are the only two places I tend to learn about world events. CNN is too bright and colorful and there is too much there. That, coupled with the fact that I don´t nor plan to actually LIVE in the United States makes a lot of their “news” pretty irrelevant to me. The local papers are divided between the one that was part of a multimedia empire that has been disolved by the goverment and therefore really hates them and the one that tends to present the interests of the upper middle class and the agricultural producers, both of which carry far too many outlandish stories of “inseguridad” coupled with useless information about which TV star is sleeping with whom to be of any substantial literal value.

And then there´s Facebook. Which, I have decided, is like the 21st century version of passing notes in class; fun, illict and filled with far more detail and innuendos than one could ever need. I could live without it and when I am fully engrossed in something, be it my children, my kitchen, DRIVING, for instance, I completely forget it even exists (much like the note passing of yore in my more difficult courses).But when I am working (read: operating with only 65% of my brain capacity) it has become a bit of a reflex during the course of the day. Complete a task, take a breath, open Facebook. Look at the past 10 posts since the last time you were there, perhaps read an article, participate in a petition (yeah, because bleeding liberal that I am, I do A LOT of that online) and then return nose to grindstone. Draft next mail, make phone call, open Facebook, rinse, repeat. WHY PEOPLE, WHY???  I love you all but 10 years ago I didn´t know what kind of smoothie you liked in the morning, how your spring cleaning was going, if anyone else was headed to your daughter´s ballet class this afternoon and how amazing your last vacation was. And you know what, I was just fine. We all were! I love being able to share pictures of my family as it grows and learning about the daily lives of people I last saw in person 15 years ago (I think) but I shudder at the thought of how much actually time on the clock I spend each day “checking” on what is happening in other people´s lives. Time I could perhaps spend doing things I really deeply enjoy, like reading a book (though we all know it is possible to open a book between emails without the entire office catching on, or bundle up all of those 2 minute intervals lost over a day into one extra half hour of free time after 9 pm.) But I think we can all agree that time management does not work that way. Just doesn´t happen.

And now, the confession that has prompted this entire post. This week I joined the masses whose brain has been turned to mush by brightly colored gems exploding on their screen. No, it´s not Candy Crush, that would be far too mundane and popular for me. But rather a highly stylized and branded version of the game called Free Fall. Frozen : Free Fall, that is, from the amazing people who brought us Snow White, Dumbo and so many more. Yes, Disney has made their own Candy Crush from their latest franchise and while I have never played the real Candy Crush, this thing is just as addictive. There are of course all sort of little tools that one can purchase and I realized on about level 27 that there are some levels you simply can´t pass without spending $1.99 on a magic wand or 5 bolts of flame, say. And that once you do break down and buy some stupid accessory, the game suddenly rewards you by speeding up and becoming easier. Once you start to use up your purchased extra, it again speeds up and then becomes unbearably slow and frustrating till you purchase something else. The ole “bait and switch” in its purest form and it makes me sick. It makes me even sicker to think that I have already let myself spend $10 a day on three separate occasions just to make artificial gems explode like ice. By now I could have bought myself dinner. Today in the car my husband refused to continue a conversation when he saw that I was playing as I spoke to him. And yesterday he said “I was so happy to have a wife who wasn´t hooked on one of those games.” Ouch….

Any ideas on how to save my intellect without throwing the baby out with the bathwater? I am all ears…..