What Are You Getting From the Internet?

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

If you look at the quote long enough, you might think it’s a bit creepy. Who would smile in trouble? I think it’s like a comedian laughing in the face of adversity. People like Bill Cosby have been making us laugh about our struggles for many years.

The gathering of ‘strength from distress part’ is something that I never understood until I actually did that. It’s like when you have the extra adrenaline kick in at the end when you think you have nothing left.

‘Growing brave by reflection’ is multi-faceted to me. Do you remember the picture online of the kitty who looks in the mirror and sees a lion looking back at him? Or how about on SNL when Stuart Smalley says, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me?”

Reflection to me also is the deep root of philosophy and why I love to dissect everything and rip stuff apart. I do this when I am working on music as well. Someone will send me tracks and I will have to solo parts to see what needs the attention. I feel like reflection is a bit different than stewing. I view reflection as a cool place we arrive at where we can look at ourselves, our situation and past things that have happened and grow brave from it all instead of it making us fearful. How many times have you looked back through a photo album and saw people from your past and past relationships? It can make you smile, cry or feel completely awful. Regret and sadness can make us feel worthless or even long for things the way they used to be.

It was Teresa Clayton who had asked me about the topic of love and friendship within the internet community. Teresa is awesome at showing love and friendship and I think of her often when I think about online friendship. I was thinking this morning about how an online community has become more of a friend for many people than real people.

We seem to be in a cool new phase of friendship on the net. For a while, there I was hearing everyone becoming fearful of people not interacting with each other in real life…but I am feeling that shift now.
The good part of having these online friendships is people feel much safer (I don’t mean about online stalking etc) but safer opening up to each other. The thing about consolidated words in email, comments or even video is people feel like they have a bit of time to digest what they are hearing and prepare something they want to say. The communication seems better overall, but I think the best thing that happens which can really cultivate an online friendship is safety in being honest. When you have to live with the consequence of someone at home, you have to react quickly and you might be so cluttered by the things that are going on, your communication becomes messy and you say things that you either don’t mean or you were pressured by time to say. Again though, I don’t think people feel like what they say to someone online holds the same consequence. Keep in mind, this is in friendship…people have no problem offending in other corners of the net, but I don’t go there.

Of course there are hiccups in online communities but I think there could be more hiccups if all these people got in the room with each other. It would be awesome to meet some of our online friends, but most people feel like the friends they have picked online are a good escape and you can go to them when you want. It feels more like what friendship SHOULD be.

It is however indicative of how cluttered we must feel at home. Not all of us, of course. Many people have a good home life too. I do have some concerns that people are looking for love online when they don’t feel it at home. But you know what? Why shouldn’t they? I don’t mean this romantically, that’s a whole different topic. Why shouldn’t we have these awesome friendships online where we can see others smile in their trouble, who gather strength from the things that make them distressed and witness other people growing brave by reflection instead of fear or regret. We can find great leaders, great examples of love and friendship and many overcomers!

I believe the key though is to use the good parts of online community for our growth and to help others. When we find ourselves in high-tension arenas fighting over things that don’t matter, it becomes counter-productive. I hear many people who feel guilty about the time they spend online and we shouldn’t feel guilty about that if it’s nurturing us or we can nurture someone else. It’s only when we leave the computer feeling worse than when we sat down.

We are living in times where our technology can help us help each other IF that is our goal. Every time I sit in front of my computer, I am extremely mindful of how my time is spent. I don’t go to gossip or rant sites and I don’t engage in unhealthy conversation. If I get up and walk away feeling like I just killed time, It’s not good for me. There is nothing wrong with using it as entertainment (God knows I have watched my share of animal videos on it) but for the most part, I view the internet as a means to reach people and to feel a sense of love and compassion from people who want the same thing.

Something Teresa wrote on my page, “Amazing how a community can come together at the drop of a dime, forget their own drama and focus on sending healing love to each other.” I think the reason for this is because we place value on our friendships and therefore we protect them. For many of us, our online community is the one thing that is going well in our life. It’s like our last chocolate brownie. You will kill to defend it or you will die trying. ;)

I am constantly evaluating my online time so that it is always moving things forward positively. The internet has become a way of life and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing so long as we don’t feel depleted when we walk away. The better question should be, ‘What is the Internet Getting From Me?

Resisting the urge to type ‘cute puppies running around’ in the youtube search window,

Karen :)

“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

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