First, let me just state for the record: I love the internet. I do, really. I also love beignets hot from the bubbling deep fryer, covered in an avalanche of powdered sugar. And, taking long naps. And, a really dry, really cold, slightly dirty, gin martini, straight up, like Ian Fleming’s superhero, James Bond (more Batman than Superman, no real superpowers, just fancy gadgets and lightening sharp reflexes). Yeah, so, what do these things have in common? Well, for starters, let’s apply the old adage “everything in moderation”. Beignets aren’t commonly found here and when found they do not taste like the famous beignets of the Café du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans, land of my birth. So, using moderation on beignets, easy. Naps are confined to Sunday afternoons, between Sunday lunch after Mass and the start of lesson planning and doing laundry. No problem there. Martinis? Well, the first one is always infinitely better than the second, and the third, well, there really shouldn’t be a third.
That just leaves us with the internet, and in today’s technology-driven world, it’s really hard to apply moderation to the internet, a/k/a the digital Bermuda Triangle. For a girl who begged for a set of encyclopedias as a child, Wikipedia is unbelievable. Yes, I know, it is open content and subject to error, both those made with the best of intentions and those made otherwise, but seriously, you can find out just about anything in a matter of seconds. And, what thirst is not quenched from a few clicks on Wikipedia surely will be sated by a simple Google search. Knowledge is power, right? By the way, that famous quote is by Frances Bacon, 16th century British philosopher. Thank you, Wikipedia, Google, and www.BrainyQuote.com.
The Bermuda Triangle is a well-known travel myth. Planes fly within the air space of three prominent tropical destinations, and, well, they don’t fly out. People who write for a living (or at least try to) often compare the social media heavy hitters as the Bermuda Triangle for writers. It all started with Mark Zuckerberg, who dropped upon humanity the mother of all time-wasters, Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Facebook. Facebook has re-connected me with countless people from my hometown, torn apart and scattered across the south by Hurricane Katrina. None of the schools I ever attended were left standing. Kind of hard to have a high school reunion when there is no high school, let alone no town where the high school used to be. My entire family lives in the south, either Louisiana or Texas, as does my husband’s family. Facebook has made it so much easier to share photos, holidays, and celebrations of good news, as well as warm thoughts in time of sad news.
However, there’s a lot more to Facebook these days, BuzzFeed and their interminable quizzes, for starters. What color is your karma? What literary character would you most likely be? What country are you really from? Next up from the “time-sucker” category is the endless stream of kittens and puppies. You know you shouldn’t click on them, you try to scroll past them, but eventually you cave. Sure, they are hilarious, who doesn’t like to watch a cat torment a dog, or listen to the pleading and whining of the husky who does not want to go into his crate. Tick tock, tick tock. Time slips by as you watch one after another. “I’ll just be a minute, I’m just checking Facebook,” said no one ever.
Facebook is not alone in helping procrastinators procrastinate since Twitter flew into our lives with its cute little logo. Not going to be a problem, I thought, how much time can you waste when you can only read or write in snippets of 140 characters or less? WRONG. Twitter is amazing. Late breaking news is only one thing that I love about Twitter. If you follow one or two major news outlets, you can guarantee there is someone tweeting away when something major happens. Being a foodie and avid home cook, I love following famous chefs on twitter, as well as the cooking magazines and food networks. Connecting to authors, publishers, librarians, and other teachers is another significant draw for me. Come on, admit it, it feels pretty good to have someone famous “favorite” one of your tweets or better yet, retweet it for all of their own followers to see. Six degrees of separation is indeed possible (Kevin Bacon this time, not Francis Bacon).
The third side of the digital Bermuda Triangle is more recent. A digital bulletin board or an electronic three-ring binder, complete with tabbed dividers, Pinterest is the place to go if you are planning a wedding, researching a future vacation, looking for a recipe, or better yet, mining for a craft idea. At least for me, instead of being the springboard of inspiration, Pinterest is simply the graveyard. I “pin” like crazy. I have “boards” set up for things I actually like to do, such as cooking, knitting and crocheting, reading, and teaching. I also have boards set up for the things that I would love to try, like mosaic art projects, wine cork projects, rock painting (who knew?), necktie sewing projects, trash to treasure furniture projects, and more. But, that’s as far as it goes. I can count on one hand the actual projects or recipes I have made from Pinterest.
All of these things, these social media digital Venus flytraps, lure me into wasting time, world-class procrastinating. I should be grading papers but instead I am on Facebook. I should be working on lesson plans, but instead I am tweeting and reading tweets. I should be cleaning my house but instead I am pinning housekeeping tips on my boards on Pinterest. Once you enter the Bermuda Triangle of the internet, it is very, very difficult to extricate yourself. I understand: everything in moderation. I’m working on it, really.