Return Home Poetry Art Philosophy
My Thoughts
My Favorite Quotes
My Journal

Other People's Thoughts

My Diary

Observations of an Internet Junkie

Copyright @ 1998 Tom Davidson

Sunday, 26 Jan '96-- 2:30 AM

My day was okay today. An old friend of mine, one Morris Nobles, visited from Ohio; he moved out there just recently in search of better work with his live-in girlfriend (and, most likely, rapidly-approaching wife). Oddly, I miss him already.

I'm very, very afraid of being left alone as I get older, and I think the inevitable dissolution of friendships (as people move away or change or date badly or whatever) is one of the most tragic truths of life. I don't want to lose touch with Morris; he's only three hours away, and it shouldn't make that much of a difference -- but it will. I'm realistic (or pessimistic) enough to know that.

I'm not talking 'Net relationships here, which seem to last for milliseconds but burn as brightly as supernovae while they do; I want good, long, real friendships, with real people I can take to coffee -- and I want them to last. I want to be eighty years old and sitting with Morris and his wife around a chessboard, grumping about what kids these days are doing wrong.

I don't love anyone in my family, and no one in my family loves me. Consequently, I think my friends have taken the place of my siblings; I'd die for them, and nothing causes me greater pain than the idea of losing touch -- especially when it's no one's fault, when you just drift apart and never understand why.

I would rather die than become someone's acquaintance, see them once a year on holidays and try to sum up all the events of that year into some tiny pathetic little packet like, "Hey, dude! I got a new job last month and I'm getting engaged in a week. Wanna come to the party?" The idea terrifies me. I would rather not hear from my parents for several years (which, by the way, actually came close to happening with my mother -- who I do love, I suppose, but I have this lingering hostility towards her (and the rest of my relatives) that I haven't been able to place) than not hear from one of my close friends.

Anyway, that's it for the night. I've got to get some sleep.

Monday, 20 Jan -- 10:30 PM

I'm not particularly depressed tonight, although I am slightly bored; besides shopping a little and buying some deodorant and searching for a new job, I didn't exactly get a whole lot done -- or, for that matter, socialize in any way that was remotely satisfying.

Which, I suppose, might bring us to today's topic.

I wonder why lonely people love the Internet so much. Or not love, exactly; that word, I think, is perhaps too positive for the reality. It's more of an addiction or hopeless fascination, like driving past a car accident and being forced by some subhuman drive to slow down and crane your neck at the wreckage. But the 'Net is popular, so popular that it's not really that hard for me to imagine a future in which people never even leave their houses, just hook themselves up to their computers for long-distance chat, correspondence, business -- even (or, perhaps, especially) sex.

I think it's because the 'Net is so amazingly deep. There are some people who are born naturally satisfied with what they know and what they want, the kind of person who gets out a map before driving more than ten miles in any direction just to make sure. These people don't like the Internet. On the other hand, there are people who are simply never satisfied, no matter how much they know or how many people with whom they speak -- and the 'Net is perfect for that. It lets you delve as deeply as you want or skip as gaily and broadly over as many subjects as you feel the need -- and, perhaps because it's far easier to skip than delve, people spend so much time on here because quantity, in some bizarre way, makes up for the rather anemic quality.

And, of course, there's loneliness to think about. The things that matter in real life, like someone's taste in clothing or poise or weight or hair color, don't affect netchat or casual E-mail at all; instead, things like wit, grammar, and typing speed reign supreme -- and the kind of people for whom those things come the most easily are, appropriately enough, generally the kind of people for whom weight and style and poise are dirty words, or at least foreign concepts. For this reason, geeks use the 'Net; it's got a different set of priorities, and a 290-lb. pimple-faced guy who stopped halfway through puberty can, as long as he's got a good enough way with words, fascinate an entire crowd with his humor and intelligence. It gives you an audience, gives you friends -- and that means a lot, I think, to people who wouldn't normally have either.

Sunday, 19 Jan -- 10:45 PM

I am frankly nervous and self-aware about my reasons for putting my private thoughts up here on the Web. There's some part of me that is horrified by my willingness to do this, as if it were some kind of emotional exhibitionism, the same kind of raw lonely need echoed in the eyes and ragged voices of those people on sleazy talk shows, whining about their ill-chosen lovers and incomprehensible little trashy problems. I'd like to think that I'm better than that, but I also know there are things that I've done that wouldn't seem at all out of place on Rikki Lake or Jerry Springer. I am not a nice person. I'm a kind person, certainly, and a good person (although some kind of dull ache always echoes inside me when I try to convince myself of that, some Lancelot-like nagging throb of guilt that screams out some inner conviction to the contrary), but I'm not often nice. I'm too manipulative, too casually arrogant, too completely calculated even in my spontaneous moments; even when my mouth runs away with me and I say something I instantly regret, there's a part of me that knew it was coming and didn't bother to prevent it. I suffer from your normal suburban insecurities, the terror of abandonment and failure and lessness that hangs over so many of us pathetic little white kids these days -- and while I'm aware that I could, at any time, just wave a hand and pull up my pants and start doing things to change the world I resent so much, the problems often seem so big and so incomprehensible that I wind up dealing with them by doing good deeds on a smaller scale; I loan money to strangers, drive friends around without complaint, spend nights awake listening to people I barely know cry about their problems to me, all as some kind of bizarre penance for the continual erosion of the world that I, on a daily basis, keep allowing to happen.

I always feel responsible for everything.

This isn't how I was hoping to start this "diary." A trite piece on post-adolescent angst certainly wasn't my intended result; you can get enough of that on my poetry page. But there is so much regret in me, so much worry, that when I try to type anything else, it all always just pours out. Someday, perhaps, I'll find the right words and it'll all rush out in one bloated, glubbering, revoltingly gelatinous mass of hate and betrayal and fear and loneliness, and then I'll be able to write about things like simple love and sunshine and the way trees look when the mist is just right around six in the morning in New England. But now I can't. Those things are all parts of my life, of course. There are good moments, more than I could ever list, some so painfully, poignantly wonderful that I can remember wishing that I would drop dead right there of happiness so that what I was feeling at that second would last for the rest of my life. Without those, I wouldn't go on living; I'm rather pro-choice on the subject of suicide, believing firmly that anyone who thinks his life isn't worth living should either change his mind or act on the feeling.

But I love life. More importantly, I still love my life. I have a good one. My parents don't love me, of course, and I don't particularly love them back; I've got a druggie brother and some shallow friends and all the other classic little whiny pieces of crap that presumably shape someone's personality -- but I have loved. I still love. I like crayons and good punk and role-playing games and driving fast with the windows down and even making snowmen when it's too damn cold outside to even think about doing anything but curling up in front of a fire -- and then curling up in front of the fire when you're done, happier now because you've put it off. My whole life is a collection of moments, and I realized a while ago that true happiness isn't so much a state of being but rather a conscious choice between those moments that mean the most to you. I haven't become happy yet, but I'm not suicidal. That's as well as I can do. It's enough for now.