Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Dealing with the Internet Age

with 6 comments

Folks, I have been thinking hard about a story I’m trying to write — and am stalled at doing, of course — so all sorts of other things have come into my mind.

For example, in the 1930s during the Great Depression, comedies — the wilder, the better — were all in vogue. Yet now, in 2019, after what some call the Great Recession of 2008 (that hasn’t fully recovered in some areas, at least not to pre-Recession levels), what’s in vogue? Depressing stories — such as The Walking Dead. Or George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” epic (AKA HBO’s Game of Thrones).

That doesn’t mean comedies can’t still find their way, mind you. But the comedies that have succeeded, such as Bridesmaids or the various instances of The Hangover (last I knew, it was up to part three), all have a darker edge to them than the ones did in the 1930s.

I hate to think that the 1930s were a simpler time, because that can’t be true. They’d endured what was then called the Great War — what we call World War I — and so many men died there, at least half a generation of men were wiped out. (Note that I say “men” because very few women fought in those days, and even those serving in hospitals and as ambulance drivers tended to be as far away from the fighting as humanly possible. Not that this was all that much all the time, of course — but it was the principle of the thing.)

But the 1930s didn’t have today’s instantaneous communication, either. While they certainly had telephones, and they had telegraphs as well (kids, think about text messaging, and then think about it going over telephone-type wires…while this is imprecise, that’s more or less what telegraphy was meant to be), they lacked 24/7 news coverage. Or the ability to wake up and know what was going on, say, in Bangladesh, even if you were asking from your living room in San Francisco, California.

I’ve read a few stories recently that make me wonder if the world at large knowing so many things at such a shallow level is actually good. Many people, just run-of-the-mill folks, feel either isolated or inundated, and don’t know what to do with themselves.

Moderation is meaningless unless it’s taught. And no one’s taught anyone online how to be moderate whatsoever.

Thus Tweetstorms. Thus random comments from 2013 (or whatever) coming back to bite people…

And that’s why some folks think it’s OK to gang up on others online, because there’s this ideal out there that you’re supposed to be perfect 24/7. And if you can’t be the pattern card of propriety (as the Regency Era would put it), you aren’t worth anything at all.

This era of ours, the Internet Age, sometimes lacks humanity. It also lacks soul. And the reason for both of these problems is very simple: there are too many people who seem to have forgotten to show compassion, or maybe to even feel it.

I don’t know what the answers are to fix these dilemmas. But I do know what you can do to try to moderate yourself as best you can amidst the screaming and the shouting and the horrors often seen.

(Make no mistake, there are plenty of horrors out there. And they should be dealt with. But dwelling on them all the time does not do any good. Back to the post.)

My simple, five-point strategy is this:

  1. Read widely, but take breaks. This means you should question yourself and your assumptions, but you also should take a day off here and there from all of this questioning and assume the world is going to keep spinning.
  2. Practice compassion toward others, even when it’s hard. Try to find someone else’s point of view if at all possible, and if you can’t, ask the other person — the one you don’t understand — to explain himself/herself/themself.
  3. Remember that every day is a new day. And that you do not have to carry yesterday’s mistakes with you forever.
  4. Do what you can to help, or at least not hinder.
  5. And finally, try to find fun amidst all the meaning in your life. Because life is very short, and sometimes the end sneaks up on you in a big hurry.

If you can do all these things, you will be able to shut out some of the yelling, the screaming, the argumentation for the sake of argumentation…and thus be able to live a better and more fulfilling life.

What do you do to find balance in your life during the Internet Age? Tell me about it in the comments!

6 Responses

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  1. “There’s somebody wrong on the Internet and I have to correct him!” 😈

    Seriously, I’ve had to train myself to walk away. If I know that a discussion is going to “raise my blood pressure” (even if I agree with the people discussing the matter), I try to ignore the discussion.

    Now, sometimes I do take part in these “interesting” discussions but I also stay aware of my temper level.

    Finally, I think one of the biggest problems with internet arguing is that it is too easy to fail to realize that the people on the “other side of the screen” are real people. It’s too easy to treat them in a way that you likely wouldn’t treat them in person. So I strongly attempt to keep in mind that no matter how idiotic stupid hateful that person is, they are still “Fellow Children Of Adam & Eve” made in the Image of God. I don’t always succeed but I try to “walk away” before I reach that point.

    Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    June 26, 2019 at 8:37 am

    • Good for you, Paul. I think that’s a good and wise strategy.

      And yes, we’re all people. We have to realize that. And try to find common ground whenever possible.

      What I think is the most discouraging thing about all of this? People who are trying hard to read, but stay on top of, say, only _one_ aspect of things — they’re the ones who start feeling inundated the most. And it doesn’t matter which aspect you read, either, or which one you’re on top of, or how right you feel the ideas are, or any of that — the more you know, sometimes, the more you feel inundated unless you can somehow step back from it.

      And that’s difficult. We all want to fix everything, all the time, as best we can.

      But life doesn’t work that way. And we have to find joy amidst the pain.

      Glad to see you here and commenting, Paul. Take good care.

      Barb Caffrey

      June 27, 2019 at 1:20 pm

  2. I remember taking logic in college. The process of evaluating everything and learning to question. My very last class was a philosophy class, where I didn’t dare come to class unprepared because I could be questioned randomly by the professor and called upon to have ‘a thought’…and able to defend it against the amazing in-depth questions he would ask. He was never rude, but he was always thorough. The dialogue was lively and even heated at times, but always respectable.
    I don’t see those things very often anymore.
    The most absurd statements are made–indefensible by logic and the standards of my prof–and people glibly state them as facts…oh, yeah, ‘alt facts’ they are called. And when people disagree, they are far from respectable. Cruelty and disrespect seem to not only be tolerated, but they also seem to be preferred by some.
    I love this post…as I usually love all your posts. Thanks for sharing.

    L R Davis

    June 26, 2019 at 9:13 am

    • Thank you, L.R. I appreciate your wise words. And I enjoyed hearing about your professor. I wish we had more people like that in this world.

      Barb Caffrey

      June 27, 2019 at 1:23 pm

  3. You…don’t actually have to put anything out there. At all. The world isn’t entitled to your opinions. I rarely post at all, except for things that I can’t stay silent about, or trivial things. The world of the 1930s allowed everyone to keep their thoughts to themselves. We can still do that, and no one’s forcing us to engage, even if it feels that way.

    Jenni

    June 27, 2019 at 6:56 am

    • That’s true, Jenni. But finding the balance is key. If you want to comment — and God/dess help me, I’ve always wanted to comment — you have to be prepared for light as well as heat. Fortunately, I mostly do find light rather than heat, but sometimes…you know how it is.

      And yes, in the 1930s, most people had much more privacy than we do now. And more time to think.

      I believe in some ways we have to find that within ourselves now, and doing that can be difficult. We overschedule because we don’t know any other way to behave. And then we wonder why we’re so tired…or at least, I do. 😉

      Barb Caffrey

      June 27, 2019 at 1:25 pm


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