I’m a product of the Internet Age. I use words like “feels” and “ship” on a daily basis. I know that the Supernatural fandom routinely hijacks Tumblr posts, yet I don’t watch Supernatural or have a Tumblr! Sometimes I feel like I know a little bit about everything, though half of it is untrue and the other half is just a fraction of the world. There are TV series that I can’t fathom watching week by week because binge-watching is the only way I’ve ever seen them. I have to force myself to go to bed, because I routinely stay up way too late online. Yet I have an incredible amount of information at my fingertips. I can do everything from put a library book on hold to order a piece of furniture in a matter of minutes. I can generally figure my way around a cell phone, TV, camera, or computer. I probably know more than about some things than my parents did at my age.
But it scares me sometimes, this living on the edge of sanity. I mean, what have I let happen to my life that I never get to sleep before eleven anymore? I know nearly every major fandom out there; I’m actually interested in the characters of certain shows I’ve never seen. I know that “Oncers” compose the Once Upon a Time fandom, that “SuperWhoLock” is a very real fandom, and that Benedict Cumberbatch’s many fans are called “The Cumber Collective.” And every now and then the thought pops into my mind: why does any of this even matter? In some of my more introspective moments, I’m terrified that Pinterest is destroying my life. What’s happened to me? What’s happened to us?
The Internet and the Digital Age in general is, of course, not all bad. It’s been hugely beneficial in many ways.
- It’s opened up many new avenues for writers. Blogging, online magazines, and e-publishing have all benefitted the writing community in one way or another, though I have my dislikes of the last one. I love my blog; I’ve grown tremendously as a writer from both The Ink Loft and the many blogs I follow.
- So much information is available to us. Can you imagine our grandparents knowing the things we have access to? Cures for ailments, the accessibility to a favorite author, an incredible volume of music, popular names in ever year since some time in the 1800’s, how-to’s for everything under the sun, and so much more… I think we take for granted the wealth of information at our fingertips.
- It’s broadened media and the way we experience it. No longer is entertainment limited to books, movies, and radio. Now we have online comic strips, Youtube mini-series, Pandora, Netflix, and many, many more. Fans can interact with and influence their favorite stories in unprecedented ways; for example, the first episode of BBC’s Sherlock, Season Three, was based almost entirely on Tumblr’s many theories, ships, and general buzz about the show. Fan art and fan fiction take a story to often unexpected depths. The many posts related to Marvel’s recent release Captain America: The Winter Soldier prove my point. And the creativity shown on Youtube is mind-blowing. I adored the Lizzie Bennett Diaries, a modern mini-series adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and am now enjoying Emma Approved, an adaption of Emma. I found myself surprisingly drawn in by a short series called Kissing in the Rain, and I’m in the midst of an adaption of Anne of Green Gables. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the prodigious musical talents found all over the site, including the brilliant Piano Guys, and the comedic genius found on such channels as Blimey Cow. The Internet has forever changed the way we’re entertained.
And, of course, there are many other benefits. But I think there are a lot of downsides that we don’t think about. The Digital Age has affected us in many ways, and not all of them are positive:
- We’re always busy. I’ve discovered this in my own life: I struggle to set things aside and soak in peace and quiet. Sure, I still read and do non-Internet things, but I find myself turning to something to keep me busy every time I have a moment of inaction. It’s hard for me to just be, to rest. And Jesus calls us to be at rest. The Digital Age has largely destroyed our contentment in moments of silence and stillness.
- We’re incredibly impatient. The Digital Age has made so many things available immediately that we have trouble waiting for anything. Patience is hard enough to practice, but with our ability to watch movies on demand, listen to music with the click of a button, etc., I fear that we barely demonstrate it at all. And impatience leads to strife with everyone. It also leads to us not appreciating the blessings we’re surrounded by.
- It affects our health. I’m sure we could talk about this one forever, but I just want to touch on a couple of aspects: prolonged time on screens affects our adrenal glands, which then affect the rest of our bodies. And, as I mentioned earlier, I struggle to get to sleep at a decent time. Because of the Internet and my seeming ability to say no to it, I routinely deal with sleep deprivation.
Again, there are so many other things I could mention, but I’ll stop at three apiece. Feel free to jump in with your own conclusions, though! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Digital Age and its effects in your own life.