Internet culture is a fascinating, terrifying, distorted reflection of human behaviour. Social media is a House of Mirrors which warps context, subverts emphasis and provokes opinion.
I’ve learned from experience that emotionally investing in online interactions is a hazardous pastime which can lead to dark places.
It can also be incredibly rewarding.
In the past, I’ve had some success with a blog focused on video games and another blog discussing healthcare. Both topics are passions of mine; the former a hobby, the latter my profession. Writing both led to other opportunities for which I am grateful.
Sadly, for various reasons, my writing output declined in more recent years. Mostly, this was due to other responsibilities taking precedence; having a young family, unwell relatives, and a career.
But also, I developed a growing unease with the kind of interactions I was witness to and sometimes participating in. Facebook exchanges with former colleagues and friends became combative. Twitter was increasingly comprised of aggressive, hypercritical hashtag-led trends requiring a binary stance.
Everyone had an opinion and they weren’t afraid to share it, whether or not it was well-informed (which, ironically, is also subject to opinion).
So, for my own sanity, as well as the aforementioned lack of time and emotional resources, I stepped back and became an observer. Of course, I still had opinions on some things, but I already knew what they were. Instead, I spent much of my time online trying to understand the opinions of others. I’m not sure I’ve made much progress – there’s a lot of noise out there and it’s hard to cut through and separate fact from opinion. But I suppose, if nothing else, I’ve become better at trying to keep an open mind.
Why then, am I now planning to once again contribute to the noise? Doesn’t that make me a hypocrite?
Maybe. But I feel that the connectivity that internet culture provides is an important factor in the intellectual and emotional evolution of our species. If to err is human, the internet is amplifying our ability to err (and react) on a massive scale. We need to learn how to navigate our way through these stormy waters and to ensure our children can too, and I certainly can’t do that with silence.
I recognise that as a middle-aged, middle-class, white, heterosexual, cis-gender, English male, I tick all sorts of privilege boxes which require me to listen rather than speak, but I hope that my recent life experiences and my ongoing attempts to understand our world give me the credibility to share and discuss a thought or opinion from time to time.
To be honest, a lot of the future content might end up being a lot more random and lighthearted than this warm-up post suggests. I’ve got a backlog of deep and/or inane thoughts I need to put somewhere, and there’s also some important discussion to be had relating to a podcast and a documentary that I’ve been involved in. But equally someone needs to hear my rants about timeshares, school-runs, and office toilet etiquette.
People don’t have to read it all.
But I hope you will.