When it comes to life online, there seems to be two types of people. On the one hand you have people like Suzanne Moore, who says we should fully embrace all things digital and we should subsequently immerse ourselves online. She goes even further to suggest that anyone who wants to detox digitally is perhaps displaying a holier-than-thou attitude:
Virtual untethering is mostly virtue signalling. It is deemed good for the soul by just about everyone who talks about social media on social media. Apparently we can reclaim a sense of self, freedom and creativity when we stop our online dependency. We engage more fully and at a deeper level in our personal relationships. We can focus better and concentrate more. All of this is taken as a given by just about everyone who talks about the digital world. In other words, the thing many people do is inherently bad for us…It is possible to accept that social media may cause anxiety and unhappiness and that those networks do not often work out equally, but we surely have to move away from always opposing the real world to the online world. They are integrated. – Suzanne Moore, 11th May 2016, from a Guardian article entitled Stop Telling Us To Switch Off – We Live In A Digital Culture Now
In the other camp you have the likes of one of my favourite comedians Louis CK. Louis recently announced that he was ‘quitting’ the internet. Below are three clips of him talking about the reasons behind his recent digital disconnect. In one clip he reads a touching letter from his young daughter about his brave decision to spend more time in the real world, and in another clip he predicts how the Twitterati would react to the return of Jesus. Enjoy!
I don’t go on the internet anymore. The last month I haven’t been on the internet…I’ve always wanted to [swear off the internet] because I hate this feeling that I’ve got this thing [this phone] in my hand all the time and I can’t [switch off]…it’s a bit of an addiction, you know, and it’s not good, I don’t think it’s good. Everything is mean and weird and upsetting. But every time I say I’m not going to look at the internet I get drawn back to it. So I gave my phone to my 10-year-old daughter and I said put a code in for the restriction and then take me off. So it’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do: my daughter is keeping me off the internet. So it’s been a month and I just feel better because I don’t know what’s going on, first of all, I don’t know anything that’s going on, and it’s exciting when somebody says “Hey, did you hear about the thing the guy said?” And I’m like “What did he say?!” Like I can’t wait to hear, like I get to hear about it, instead of just knowing every little f*****g thing about everybody, I get to hear about it. And when I’m on the streets and I’m looking for something I go up to human beings and I ask them, and then they Google it [LAUGHTER], you know, but I get some human contact. And I’m getting all this culture because I was in an airport and I bought a book. I haven’t read a book since I was like, I don’t know, 19 years old or something like that. And so I want to plug some things that aren’t just my show, because I feel like that’s selfish. So I bought this book at the airport [HOLDS OUT BOOK]. This is Jane Austen, Pride And Prejudice [LAUGHTER]. You can get it at any airport, or any junior high school library…I’m reading it on the subway and everything… – Louis C K, May 2016, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Conan: I noticed that not too long ago you got a Twitter page. I’ve known you for a long time and I didn’t know that you were into social media, are you that interested in it?
Louis: Well I kinda hate it I think it’s awful, and I have Twitter so that I can just tell people what I want them to buy and give me money. I don’t care. People get mad because I don’t follow anybody, there’s zero people that I follow and people are like ‘You’re an arrogant prick.’ Like I get really angry…
Conan: People get mad at you for that?
Louis: They get really…’How dare you not follow…’ But why do they care? It’s like a piece of cake going ‘Come on man, what, I’m right here, why aren’t you eating me?’ Like why do they give a shit? I’m sorry on television. I think it’s…you shouldn’t just do…everything that is available to do isn’t a good idea. There’s a culture right now that says ‘Hey! You get to do this? I’m gonna do it!!!’ There’s no, sort of, like, maybe that’s not…just the constant…nobody takes in life unless it comes through this [mimics holding phone]. Like whenever I see a televised event that’s like a huge, like the Olympics opening ceremony or Time Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve, everybody, they see seas of people all looking at it through their phone. Like there’s explosions and acrobats but they’re looking at it through a little three inch screen. Like I think if Jesus comes back, and starts telling everyone everything, it’ll just…everybody is gonna be Twittering and they won’t…it’ll be like:
[Jesus:] “I am Christ and I have returned”
[Tweeter:] “Oh My God! Jesus is right in front of me right now, I swear to God!!!”
[Jesus:] “I am now going to impart to you…”
[Tweeter:] “I have a Twitpic of Jesus, OMG he is trending, Jesus is trending right now!!!”
[Jesus:] “I…OK, can you just look at me for a second?!”
[makes funny voice and Tweeting gesture]