Internet Addiction, Spam and Comboxes

Internet Addiction, Spam and Comboxes November 11, 2011

My spam filter currently has 900 spams, and counting, and the situation can’t be rectified until Monday.

Meanwhile, this weekend is work-packed for me and I’m way too busy this weekend to keep fishing through new spam to find legitimate comments, so I am closing comments through Sunday, and perhaps Monday, depending on whether I get everything done.

Besides, the comboxes are routinely unpleasant these days and I’m kind of sick of that.

There is a whole combox merry-go-round of sneers and snottiness that used to be — at least at this site — more of the exception than the rule. Lately people seem completely unable to just discuss ideas anymore, politely and with a bit of charity and good-humor. It’s all grim fingerwagging and fault-finding — even when, as in the college/apprenticeship post, the fault belongs to all of us. And I have yet to understand the folks — and these are smart folks — whose whole purpose of engagement, on any issue, has ground down to a need to simply mock and jeer at “the others” whoever they happen to be, on the left or the right. I noticed things changed right about the time of the John Corapi debacle, and since then it has continued more unpleasant than pleasant around here, rather like the whole society.

I do think social media has a hand in the world becoming so angry, with every damn issue so quickly devolving into simplistic “you’re stupid,” “no, you’re evil” side-taking and ranting. I know I’ve indulged in it too much for my own good, even when I’ve tried not to, and increasingly, I am thinking that I want off that ride, even if it means turning the direction of the blog a little, because I don’t think it’s particularly good for me.

Read this very interesting and thoughtful column by Elizabeth Duffy
on our virtual pleasure chasing:

Acknowledging that our children and teachers depend on the internet, as do many of us for our jobs, I continued, “But people—you who attend Adult Catechesis on Wednesday night and Mass every Sunday—how many of you are willing to admit that you have a problem with the internet?”

The room was silent for a moment. A woman in the front row raised her hand. “Hello, my name is Karen, and I’m addicted to the internet.”

A man in the back row raised his hand. “I’m willing to admit that I’m addicted to but only because I’m pretty sure I’m related to Moses, and if I just keep digging . . .”

The confessions began to pour fourth, one after another; confessions of logging on to check email, and logging off two hours later, bewildered by what had happened to the time. “I just check email, and Facebook . . . about every hour on the hour.” “I log on to look for gifts for people, and you just get sucked in, clicking and clicking . . .”

In his book The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good, David J. Linden asserts that information (and hence, the internet) is just one of many positive stimuli that influence the choices we make.

You’ll want to read it all. Let’s face it, many of us are not just addicted to the internet, we’re addicted to the confrontations. But if that’s all the comboxes are going to be — fields of combat rather than conversation, then who needs that? It’s not what I started with or ever wanted.

Then again, I admit, I’m buried under work, a little cranky and in no shape to deal with it all, so perhaps some of this grousing might just be me with a bad attitude.

Either way, comments are closed for the weekend.

And I know it’s just gonna drive you crazy because now you all want to respond by telling me that yes, it’s unpleasant and it’s all the fault of those other people, because you’re the reasonable one who’s just trying to have a conversation and make a point, and as a matter of fact, it’s all my fault.

Which may well be true. It’s something I’ve been praying about, and I want to fix it. Just not sure, yet, what the fix will be.

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