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The Internet, Vice and Envy

April 10, AD2013

\"Julie

I confess to you, my online brothers and sisters, that I have repeatedly compared my life to that of other bloggers. I have concluded my life is utterly worthless when stacked up to Naomi’s impeccable style and ridiculously incredible family activities, or even Jessica’s bounty of children, baking skills and liturgical year works of wonder. I have come down with severe “pinnaholicism”, when I can’t stop clicking the “fetch more pins” button, often until late at night, to see more things I’ll never have enough money to buy or time to make. These are my addictions. I’m certain that many of you readers have had at least to some degree the almost drugged opening of more browser windows and more sites even though you should be doing something more important such as sleeping.

Complete waste of time is not the only problem here. Internet addiction is a field little explored, but it is easy to see the way it has taken over our lives and is changing the way we live. Without going into the sheer quantity of time most people spend online, the management of that time and other priorities can spin out of control. In Tony Dokoupil’s article, Is the Internet Making Us Crazy?, it is stated that the brains of internet addicts look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts. Specialists say, “the computer is like electronic cocaine, fueling cycles of mania followed by depressive stretches….”. Also, it “fosters our obsessions, dependence, and stress reactions.” Many people try short periods of being internet-free and rave about its advantages, yet are helpless to cut it out of their lives or cut down on its use.

Another problem that pertains more to blogs and Pinterest is envy. If you type “blogs and perfect lives” into Google, hundreds of posts will testify to the fact that blogs only show a partial truth or a distorted reality. They show a glorious meal, but not the sorrowful mistakes or the clean up afterwards. They show the passion and public harmony of marriage, but not the trials and hardships. They show the clarity of reason and high flights of faith, but not the dark recesses of human doubt and fear. Jezebel says, “I fell down the picturesque-vintage-design-craft rabbit hole a few days ago and emerged three hours later, bleary-eyed and full of self-loathing.” My fiancee once told me that lifestyle blogs are modern fairy tales and, having thought it over, I think it’s true. They are more fictional than not and, to make matters worse, are usually written to sell or gain popularity. Many have said that while men are more addicted to a visual fantasy such as pornography, women are more easily addicted to emotional fantasy, such as harlequin novels. Blogs could possibly feed this drive.

I don’t actually know the bloggers whose blogs I read and this is why it is so worrisome. The only lives that are safe to imitate are those of the saints, and even so just because they reflect Christ. People are different online and in person and relationships also. The people I know online don’t know me in both my faults and greatness and, if I am not truly known, I cannot feel truly loved. The people I know online won’t hug me when I’m sad, visit me in the hospital or dance with me. A virtual community in no way substitutes a real life community. There is no online parish, virtual sacraments or online support group.

The internet can take over our lives in small and unnoticeable ways. Even its use for Evangelization should be moderated. Virtual acts of love in no way substitute the actual ones. TV is exalted as a means to reach a multitude, but has also been said to be a gateway for the devil in every family’s living room. It is just a means, to be used wisely or for self-destruction. In this way, the internet should be taken with a grain of salt: it can too easily consume our time, alter our priorities, modify our perception and enslave us.

© 2013. Julie Rodrigues. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Social Justice • Tags: ,

About the Author:

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal to study theology. She now lives there, along with the rest of her family, her husband and her children. She believes the greatest things in life are small and hidden and that the extraordinary is in the ordinary. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

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