I Want To Unplug, But This Is Why I Can't
It’s not you, Internet. It’s me. No, on second thought: it’s definitely you. I want out. I want to unplug.
But I just can’t quit you, and not in a heartbreaking Brokeback Mountain sort of way, but more in a mundane, I-just-need-it sort of way, the way you need coffee and a cell phone and pants. You could do without any of the above, of course, but it would really suck. Internet, you’re like that.
And we have some good times, you and me. There’s Pinterest. I ignore all social media functions of Pinterest and just use it to redo old clothes, find homeschool curricula, and sew weird costumes for my kids. There are friends and family who I can keep in touch with on the regular via Facebook posts and Instagram feeds. There’s the fact that I can read about anything whether its homeschooling or parenting or gardening with the push of a button. There’s the news, when I want it. I can click on the BBC or the Independent or The New York Times or even CNN and there it is, ready to tell me about — shit, Internet, I don’t really want to know what’s going on in the world right now.
But I kind of have to. Because ignoring the Mueller investigation and the border crisis and the Russian collusion and Georgia purging thousands of voters from the rolls, that’s the height of privilege. I can’t unplug. I have to know.
Then there’s the whole social media thing. Internet, sometimes I wish I could just turn my back and walk away. Not forever, of course, but for a little while. But you have my whole life. Facebook and Instagram and Google photos hold, like, all pictures of my children in the history of ever. And not only do they hold them for me, they hold them for grandparents and husbands and friends and relatives who have never seen my kids in real life. You hold my stolen moments and my big deals, Internet, my mundane details and my triumphs. It’s all there. It’s all recorded.
I have friends who exist only on the Internet. I love them dearly. I need them in my world to celebrate my good times and buoy me in the bad. I can’t lose that, Internet. Unplugging from you means unplugging from them. I can’t do that. I can’t lose Jeff and Jim and Jennifer and Jill and Kristin. I also can’t lose the people from far away, those I used to know and keep in touch with via the social media: ex-boyfriends. Former BFFs. The people I loved in college. Internet, you stop me from losing those once most dear to me.
You also hold my job. I need email to communicate. My colleagues are on Facebook. All my contacts are available through DM and IM. All the people I ask for help, all the people I look to for advice, all the people I need around me for life, the universe, and everything: they mostly exist in the virtual world of the Internet.
It helps me get to know my colleagues as human beings and them to know me. We might not get together for happy hour or lunch dates like in days gone by, but we have group texts and Facebook groups to get our work done, socialize a bit afterward, and understand why someone might not have gotten that project done on time. Because it’s hard to be an asshole about deadlines when you know someone’s got three barfing kids at home.
As much as you keep me in touch with friends, you show me their ugly side too. I discovered my beloved childhood mentor was a diehard Trump fan who constantly posted anti-liberal rants and thought we should throw kids in cages. He discovered I dress my children in “Protect Kids, Not Guns” shirts. We battle with memes, with clever retweets, with biased articles no one realizes are biased and waste time text-screaming at each other.
I’ve had to unfriend people. I had to divide people into groups that can see different things I post: one person hates cussing and one person hates politics and one person will argue until someone blocks her ass. I had to unfriend otherwise nice people when they showed their true colors. You’re really good at laying bare our ugly truths, Internet, the truths polite society tries to hide.
And then there are the notifications. You won’t stop making noises. You won’t stop my dinging and beeping. You have different tones for Messenger and email and Insta notifications and Snapchats and everything in between. And I just can’t help myself. I have to stop my real life. I have to look. I have to look.
And I have to keep feeding you. You always want more. You always want more statuses, more photos, more updates, more comments, more likes, more sad faces. You always want more.
I am tired of more.
I am tired, Internet.
I want to spend a day without your dings and pings and demands. I want to pull my accounts, to change the passwords, to unplug into glorious silence.
I can’t quit you, Internet.
I’m not even sure I want to quit entirely. (This article is published on the Internet, after all). But a break would be nice.
And that doesn’t mean I need to like you and your Russian bots, your trolling relatives, your slut-shaming friends, your howling racists, your endless bombardment of bad news, your constant dingings and brrringings and demands. I want to unplug.
But in the end, I know I can’t.
This article was originally published on