Yes, it is true. I’m not a proper person. I’m not even half of a proper person. I’m a shadow of a proper person and I’m living on the internet.
It makes me hate myself a little, sometimes. Don’t get me wrong: I love the internet. I love how easy it is to put yourself out there and make friends and enemies and talk to strangers and tell them secrets and sell them shoes. I love how much it listens if you really want to talk. No. It’s not the internet that I hate. It’s this version of me that’s walking around and living inside of it. It’s the fact that I am probably addicted to it. And the fact that I didn’t used to be this way.
So. Get into your pajamas, Zonk. Curl up with your hot chocolate and snuggle up and be all ears. Because this is a long, long story and we need to go over it one step at a time.
1999: I’m a pretty weird kid. Awkward, skinny, ugly, face perpetually stuck in a book. I know what computers are. I have computer period once a week in school, and they teach us DOS and Powerpoint and Paint. I think Paint is pretty fun but I mostly ignore everything else and almost flunk computers at some point. My not-exactly-best-friend-back-then Ila gets a computer.
2000: Ila takes us to cyber cafes and instructs us in the art of Internet. We make hotmail ids, I think. I go home, stick face in book and get on with my awkward, nerdy life.
2000-something: Ila introduces us to a website where you make pen pals. This is The Age Of Cyber Cafes in my part of the world. There are at least 3 cyber cafes near my house and I get pretty hooked. I spend whole vacations collecting 15 bucks and waiting for the electricity to come back on so I can go to the cyber and see if any of my Pen Pals have emailed. I also write a series of depressing and insanely rhyming poetry and put it up all over the internet on lame I-write-poetry-I’m-pretty-deep sites.
2004: I go to college and don’t completely get it when people laugh about their “ASL” days. My sister buys a computer and I spend hours at her place hanging out on Orkut and Google talk.
2005-2009: I get a computer and spend hours hanging out on Orkut and Google talk at my own place. This eventually gets boring. I buy a guitar and learn to play and practice for hours everyday. Over the next few years I learn to play one intense Bach piece, two really difficult Incubus songs (one of which makes my fingers swell up for two days), learn to play a few Dave Matthews songs entirely by ear (which makes me feel insanely proud of myself) and compose one ridiculously difficult song that has fourteen chords that I don’t know the names of. [Please note: I can play almost none of the above-mentioned pieces anymore. A little bit later in this post I’m going to blame it on the internet.] Facebook happens. Vox happens. I start blogging with a cynical post about how I will never take to blogging and it all seems so pointless. One week later, I eat my words and start blogging three times a day because I have a pointless job where nobody expects me to do any work until I get up to go home. At which point I’m be given work to do and made to stay till 11p.m. I feel overwhelmed, go home, play guitar and stick face in book. Life goes on. College gets done. Shoes get painted. I think of various career options and dabble halfheartedly in some.
2010: I’m hanging out a lot with C, who tells me I should try graphic design seeing as I’m good with visual things. I have nothing to lose. I learn Photoshop. I fall in love with Photoshop. I unstick face from book and make a book cover and a visiting card and a letterhead and a logo and a thingy and a thingamajik and a thingummy and a thingummybob and I keep going and I just don’t stop. Illustrator happens. WordPress happens. I make friends with several very computery people.I start to understand some things about the web. The internet becomes a cooler place and I start confiding more in a virtual character called Zonk than I do in real people.
2011: I move from logos and self-assigned book-cover-at-72dpi assignments to a lot of heavy print work for real clients. I hit Ctrl+S and quietly age while my dying computer saves my files. There is no option. I buy a laptop. I move from my table and chair to my sofa, my bed, my pillow on my stomach with internet access perched on top.
My life is ruined.
I stop reading in bed before I go to sleep at night. Because I start watching Community in bed before I go to sleep at night. I stop reading in the morning while I drink my coffee. Because I’m on Gmail and WordPress and Facebook every morning while I drink my coffee. I work during the breaks between TV shows. I read through Thought Catalog when I’m in cafes, waiting for people to turn up. I blog from buses and trudge from Barista to CCD to Mocha Mojo till I find the right coffee shop: the one that’s WiFi enabled. I worry. I get nervous. I pace around in my room and gaze dolefully at the piles of abandoned books I can no longer seem to read because the internet has ruined my attention span and I can’t concentrate on literature that runs on for much longer than a medium-sized blogpost. I try to write a song but it’s hard to play with one eye on the screen and one hand reaching for the laptop-lid at regular intervals. Besides, there is only so much your fingers can do without proper practice; I can type supercalifragilisticexpialitocious without looking at my keyboard now, but I need to look down at my fretboard to change from C to D. Pathetic, I know, and it scares me, Zonk, it scares me so! I try to get out and get on a train and just go somewhere without my laptop but I have a phone that isn’t smart, but not exactly stupid either. And it lets me check my mail and change my facebook status. It even lets me blog a little, so long as I stick to an arbitrary word limit. And blog I do, my friend. But I never write anymore. Not with a pen and paper, and not even in a word document offline (unless I’m doing some copy).
And so it is that I became from a person to half a person to a shadow of a person that lives and breathes on the internet.
The internet has ruined my life. It has choked up my system and clogged up my brain and it seeps out through my skin into my other world, your real world. I am a virtual being in a real place and a real being in a virtual space and perhaps I’m just playing with rhyming words now, but we all know that it’s a little bit true..
But not for much longer, Zonk. I’m going to be in detox mode from tomorrow onward. I’ll work during the day and go offline by 8 and stay there till the next day. For 10 days, at least.
Much love from your virtual friend,