While there are indeed vast swathes of Kardashians, footballers wives and people who live in Chigwell you should avoid like the plague on the internet, I would argue that the technology has immeasurably enriched our lives rather than debased it.
I am sitting on a wintry Saturday afternoon in London. And I have been “surfing the net” – if that is the correct phrase. I have avoided Kim Kardashian’s website (much as I’m sure I would enjoy it). I have not been shopping for useless baubles. Nor have I frequented chat lines (lewd or otherwise) or Facebook.
I have been reading poetry, not Keats or John Donne for a change but real live poets. and I have rather enjoyed it.
They say that if you want to write seriously these days you must engage with your potential audience and what better way to do that but via the internet. The reach you have is truly staggering. I have been reading “stuff” from all over the world. Some of it has been mind numbingly awful but there have been some wonderful surprises, such as a beautiful piece written by a prisoner incarcerated in some hell hole in the US.
The net has given that young woman wings. And I am glad for her; she deserves to be heard whatever it is she has done.
There are things I want to say and there are things I want to hear. There is no finer place to say them and to listen than the net. Did you know that there is research into how depression might be cured by microbes in the soil for instance? Well that certainly explains why I have always been a fan of Voltaire’s Candide: no wonder he returned to cultivate his garden.
There is real purpose, real use here if you use and don’t abuse it.
It is a power for the good. At least if we use it as such. It is an instrument of much needed revolution (peaceful, I hasten to add).
If you want to change the world, where better to start than here?
In many senses I have often felt my life’s work to be in vain. I would like to have done something bigger, better and above all more useful and fulfilling. Whilst I have never had the desire to become Mother Teresa (even though in this transgender age I’m sure that would be eminently possible) there are things I would like to say about making the world a better place. There are people’s lives I would like to cheer up. There are thoughts I would like to spread, even though those thoughts may be too eccentric for many tastes.
The pen is mightier than the sword, especially now the quill pen has been supercharged and become a computer keyboard. Imagine what David could have achieved if he had a laptop and the net! He could have taken on every tyrant in the ancient world after he had done for Goliath.
And that is what we should be doing. Tackling tyranny and abuse. Shaming the aggressors. Giving the meek a helping hand on their way to inheriting the world. And by the way I am a big fan of that Gillette ad. Good on ’em.
Verbally speaking you can now kick the shit out of the school bully and Donald Trump. You can rail against the horrid abuses you see all around you. You can name and shame. You can topple regimes – pity the Arab spring was such a farce.
Of course sometimes you will need anonymity but with skill, this too is available. Seek and ye shall find.
So, mock it if you will but we don’t have to use the internet for porn or Instagram.
We can and should use it as an instrument of reform and change.