Day 27: The internet is no longer a place for information

As the month has gone on my desire to write daily has really waned and at first this bothered me but now it doesn’t.  I’m not going to make the (arbitrary) target of 50,000 words this month but I will make around 25,000.  I’ve learnt quite a bit, but I’ll save that for the last day’s post (or perhaps December 1).

What I was thinking about tonight is FOMO.  If you don’t know what that stands for, you will have definitely felt it at some point in your life.  Fear of missing out.  The Internet and Facebook particularly are fuelled by it.  My extended period of illness has seen me lose most of the social life FOMO, simply because I felt worse when I went out, which made me happier to stay home and for that feeling I was thankful.  I know it works the other way for a lot of people, who feel really bad staying home when friends and family are out having fun.  Perhaps I have always been someone ok with a book or a movie at home – or writing, and so it hasn’t hit as hard.

I remember writing in the early days about how I would search for hours online for advice and information, trying to get to the bottom of my illness or find someone with the answers.  Over the 3 years I’ve noticed a change (for the worse) in that most of the information I find online is advertisements.  And some of them cleverly disguised as opinion which has been a sales tactic for years.  I’ve gotten to the point where I only trust sources like the CDC or Mayo Clinic, sites that you know can be held accountable for the information they provide – so it can’t be false or misleading – or personal sites like WordPress where people are sharing their own experiences.  Everything else is just advertising of some sort or another… ‘try this tonic, do this yoga, read this book, get this pillow and life will be better’.  I feel like Facebook, Instagram and all those are so crowded with the same stuff, over and over, and it’s easy to lose sight of how amazing the Internet can be or has been for education and connection.

My daughter and I spent Friday evening on Google Earth looking up anywhere we could think of – Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty and it was the first thing that’s interested me online in a long time.  We talked about how nothing beats actually seeing something with your own eyes and she already understood that instinctively which really pleased me.  She won’t be in danger of becoming a shut in assuming the Internet can fulfil all her needs.  Something that really surprised me with Google Earth is you can find buildings to enter and see inside.  We did this by accident, clicking on a blue dot and ending up in an office space.  So we tried a few more and had great fun wandering around hospitals and town halls.  One blue dot in Adelaide took us down to the middle of a circle of Uni students!  Obviously the man taking the images had gotten them all to stand with him and it was pretty surprising in a nice way to see them all suddenly grinning at you.  Try it if you can find it, they’re somewhere around Westpac House on King William Street.

I enjoyed this use of the Internet.  It didn’t give me FOMO but it did give me a fear of something.  Perhaps the future.  One I don’t understand.  I was trying to wrap my head around block chain technology today and couldn’t and I wonder how this will affect my job 10 years from now.  Will being a travel agent still be useful and required?  I hope so (or I think I do, but that’s probably another post).  I closed my Uber account today because of their security breach and also because (see above) I don’t go out!  So the first time I used Uber was in January this year and that was on a coupon from a friend and that’s the last time I’ve need a ride somewhere!

I’m rambling tonight and perhaps this is starting to sound like some old fuddy duddy trying to grasp the future and failing, but I think my message was that I hope the Internet will prevail and turn out to be a good thing for human life, and not detrimental.  I understand it’s only a tool and obviously people are using that tool, like anything else to do a sales job on each other.  Life seems to come down to one big sales job, someone’s always selling and someone’s always buying.

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