According to David Mielach of Business News Daily, the average American spends about 23 hours per week on the Internet, and various sources report anywhere between 20-40 minutes on Facebook (depending on which internet source you’re trusting, of course). That’s not surprising.
For one thing, Pew Research Center reports that over half of the U.S. owns a smartphone, so we definitely have the technological ability to be online no matter where we are. All this means is that we can shop, date, watch movies and listen to music anywhere, as long as we have a cell phone handy. Because of this convenience, shopping online has definitely increased, even if it hasn’t replaced walking into an actual store on your actual legs.
Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest have been popular so long they’re getting vintage. (Plus, how will anyone know what you ate, drank or found interesting if you don’t share?) Movie nights may simply mean logging into your Hulu account, browsing Youtube for new cute cat videos, or checking your Amazon Prime recommendations. Chances are, your computer access can link you to something that suits your unique personality and interests. The sad thing is, with the Internet now able to track and record what we are interested in, it appears we as a general population are interested in shallow, historically irrelevant, just plain stupid things.
Did you participate in the ice bucket challenge? (Okay, it was ethically-motivated, but still … a bit idiotic.) Have you heard of “the dress”? How about the Kylie Jenner lip challenge? Has anyone participated in the cinnamon challenge? And — Omagawd — Have you seen the picture of the cat going either up or down the stairs?
Meanwhile, in the world news this year: A dozen people were killed in a terrorist attack in Paris on January 7th, rebels took over the capital of Yemen on January 20th, ISIS executed two Japanese hostages on February 6th, Denmark suffered the most severe terrorist attack in three decades on February 14th, Boris Y. Nemtsov was assassinated near the Kremlin on February 27th, and we’ve since seen Volcano eruptions in Southern Chile, a deadly coal mine flood in China, and are nearly the June deadline for nuclear talks with Iran.
Simultaneously, Youtube viewers everwhere are fascinated by the pained duck-faces of Kylie Jenner “lip challengees” who suctioned their lips in order to get that freshly collagened look. For fans of the movie Idiocricy, a film that predicts an evetual dumbing down of society as only those with simple interests and a limited education reproduce, it almost seems like we are on the brink of such a menial existence.
For centuries, humanity has survived without the aid of mobile entertainment and instant gratification at our fingertips. For centuries, we worked hard to find, harvest, kill or gather our food. We now exist in a world where we constantly preach moderation and dieting in almost every aspect of life because we have been given more than we can afford to eat, drink, sense, process or rationalize. It’s almost as if people don’t have the time or energy to check out the news and inquire further because they were too busy uploading a picture of their sushi dinner on Instagram and updating their relationship status on Facebook so people would know they dined with their new romantic interest.
Like some privileged yet ill-prepared toddler who is exhausted after waiting in long lines at Disneyland all day, the increasingly long list of psychological, physical and social problems we see are a sign that we have had enough of all the commotion, no matter how much excitement it initially brought us. We are failing to adapt as fast or adeptly as we once thought possible. Maybe.
On second that, that’s all just speculative opinion, and I should really Google it.
Megan Wallin is a young writer with a background in the social sciences and an interest in seeking the extraordinary in the mundane. A Seattle native, she finds complaining about the constant drizzle and overabundance of Starbucks coffee therapeutic. With varied work experiences as a residential counselor, preprimary educator, musician, writing tutor and college newspaper reporter/editor, Megan is thrilled to offer a unique perspective through writing, research and open dialogue.