The internet is an amazing tool if you use it properly. Then again, using it properly is a subject that is fairly open to debate. One may argue its use is limited only by laws of a given region or country but never by its potential. The more important question then may be, “How does the Internet use us”?
Is it true when you look into the abyss it looks back into you? In the case of the Internet, this may not be far from reality. I have found the more time I spend logging in to the Internet the more time it spends hooking itself up to me. Not only does the Web psychologically embed itself in your daily routine by creating a dependency but hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of applications, programs, ad companies, marketing firms, hackers, slashers, choppers, and hoppers are working to create a profile of you by collecting data on every aspect of your usage and information trails. Conglomo Corp can’t handle it if they don’t know (or think they know) how satisfied you are with your Slap Chop and your likelihood of purchasing the Slap Chop 2000 upgrade. Truly, the internet is now using me to shape itself around my activity, tendencies, and typical patterns of thought and desire. Hours and hours I spend looking for something to kill my boredom, a boredom created by a sea of monotony on the web, sitting in front of a bright screen with flashing images. I rarely find anything outside of my ten usual sites I would consider useful or entertaining. I still log in though, almost every night. And honestly, other than direct occurrences of premeditated research, my internet time is spent doing what the Internet told me to do. I go to the sites it suggests, use the tools it determines are best, utilize the preferred browser and search engine, find product information and availability based on what the matrix has determined is the “best match”, talk to friends only through Facebook even though I prefer MySpace which I once hated when I preferred email and the phone before that. It just feels as though I am compelled to turn on my laptop every night to see time wasting crap even though my number one complaint would be lack of time to do the things I love doing. Now that you can feed every curiosity and vice at instant speed you have no choice but be bombarded with temptation and subdued by mindless bits of stimulus. We can be at our worst on the Web or pretend to be our imagined best, but one thing we can’t ever be is ourselves.
The Internet doesn’t want you; it wants an additional port to be plugged into. And every time it plugs into someone you know it becomes harder for you to turn it off because you don’t want to lose those people in your life. You know your friends won’t communicate with you very often because life is so busy and there just isn’t time, but there is time for Facebook. You have to plug in these days because everyone you love is wired up now. The Internet makes you need it. It made me want to be linked in, to be recognized when I signed on, to be noticed, to be important. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I deserved to have an individualized, custom experience and a place designed just for me. So, it created one for me like a benevolent god, or should I say “generated” one based on statistical probabilities and information I gave it. I told it about myself because it would listen. And when I was done I had a new home with a special IP address just for me. It turns out, that just like everywhere else I had been, on the Web I was just a number. Only this time, the company isn’t just selling things to me, it’s selling me too.