A Picture Slightly Larger Than Usual
"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
As most may have surmised, I am a pretty big fan of Emerson. I was introduced to his work during a time of exploration in my life and have studied transcendental thought with great interest ever since. There is much about transcendentalism that is open to interpretation, which is why I enjoy it so much, but there is one consistent thread that continues to reel me in...the idea of self-reliance.
As with all philosophy, the ideas contained within are pure supposition based on observation, left open to the world so that they may be interpreted to oblivion, but self-reliance and individuality tend to ring more true to me as I see each gradually slip from view the further we "progress" along our tepid timeline.
Since the advent of mass media it has been said that our constant connection to the rest of the world has allowed us to grow as a global community, shedding the skins that may have caused conflict in the past. Hopefully most of you can see this is total crap, but if you can't, I'd like to throw some ideas your way that will light a metaphorical fire under the intelligent parts of your rapidly dwindling brain.
Replacement of Experience
There is much to be said for the "Call of the Screen." It is so much easier to sit down at an internet capable device and access whatever information you may want instantaneously, but there is no journey in that. This instant access to information has caused us to not only become lazy, but to forfeit one of the most essential building blocks of a useful human being...experience.
The average internet user scans peer reviews, editorials, videos, and any number of media opinions before they make the choice to have an experience or not. While scanning through the dramatic recounts of their "peers," users get caught up in the starred ratings, capitalized letters, and adamant warnings, forgetting all about the fact that every single person on the planet has the ability to write a review. Every person pissed off at a company, every person who had a bad day, every person who may work for a company, etc.
Bottom Line: When you count on the internet to give you experience, you are consciously giving away your opportunity to experience anything. If something interests you, GO EXPERIENCE IT! Find out on your own how many stars Bob's Mortuary deserves.
Loss of Identity
Many have argued that exposure to the rest of the world through the internet has allowed users to display their individuality in ways once unfounded. I would argue that individuality is being stamped out by constant exposure to the internet.
Even if the idea that was let loose on the web started out as original, purely by associating it with the internet it slowly loses its identity and becomes watered down by the identity of every person that adds their voice to the number of views, likes, etc.
Yes, the entire point was for the idea to have an impact, but because of the rapid dissemination of information, no idea that is internet bound has the chance to take root in actual human minds before it is trumped by the next idea in line. This same thing happens to the creator of the idea, they get lost in the throngs of people shouting to be heard. Lost to the attention deprived masses.
No Other Option
Many think that because everyone uses the internet to access information that it is the only place information can be shared. Even as I write this, I understand that I am using the internet to purvey an idea.
Understand this. Reading an article on the internet rarely sticks with the reader, they move on to the next catchy title or flashing advertisement to get their fix, leaving your piece of work to be shared into the void. A good conversation, on the other hand, gets replayed in the mind over and over again until it is an experience that molds a person (similar to how this entire thought was started, thanks to my beautiful wife).
Remember this the next time you sit down at a computer: The internet is a wonderful tool that can provide information to you at astounding speeds and quantities, but it doesn't create the information. Like a library, it is merely the housing, not the occupant. Do yourself a favor, go experience what you have only seen through a screen, you may realize that it takes more than an emoticon to sum up what you find.