I have forgotten how to surf.
I used to be quite good at it. I could do it for hours on end, as time seemingly stood still until at last I came up for air realising that I was suddenly hungry or cold. These days I can barely manage ten minutes at a time.
We’re talking internet surfing here. If you ask me, it’s not entirely my fault. The decline in my agility is largely the result of the feeds delivered by a mob of little round-edged squares. Using a secret password, these guys have infiltrated the mini computer in my handbag, which, in medieval times, was once used for calling people. The bosses, Frankie “fb” Baloney and Enzo “Insti” Gramma, have convinced me that I’m no good at it anymore, that I can’t choose my own adventure in cyberspace.
Their power is so influential and far-reaching that I now seem to spend 90% of my time online looking at content they’ve arranged for me instead. And I, like a poor sucker paying protection money, thank them as I pay their ever-increasing costs.
Don’t get the wrong idea, these mafiosi know how to put on a feast. Delicious, tantalising and moreish in every way. The trouble is, I have stopped feeding myself. I have come to rely on others to feed me. But it isn’t always what I need and it certainly isn’t all that there is to eat.
I am now so conditioned that if Frankie or Enzo or any of their square amici haven’t mentioned it, then it hasn’t happened and isn’t worth thinking about. And, since these boys are all so nicely configured for use on a 9cm by 5cm surface, like the rest of the modern world I now use my phone for most of my internet use. Too bad most of the content out there doesn’t have an icon on my home screen.
Trust me, I enjoy having access to the entire world from my pocket, and knowing that I won’t get lost if I take a wrong turn somewhere between Booyong and Pearces Creek, but I don’t like the feeling that my mini computer is the only computer. My eyes get sore as the phone gets closer and closer to my face in order to combat my self-imposed long-sightedness. My fingers don’t always hit the right millimetre of the screen on a site that isn’t configured for smartphones, and so I give up on the internet as though it has nothing to offer me.
Meanwhile my big, shiny desktop computer waits patiently for me in the back room, like a border collie outside a shop.
On the odd occasion that I do venture the 6 metres from my lounge room to where this sleek monolith sits, I feel a sense of heaviness as if I am procrastinating writing a 3000-word essay. Since I am now so used to having content given to me on a platter, or rather a saucer, I forget what it was that I’d gone in there to look at. Stuck for what to actually use the internet for apart from banking, I leave the room feeling disappointed. Where I used to surf happily for hours finding information, going down rabbit holes or wasting time as my heart desired, now Google’s blank search box is powerless under my vacant stare.
There is still so much out there which Frankie and Enzo haven’t yet gotten their hands on, ideas I am yet to engage with and inspiration I haven’t yet discovered. If only I weren’t too full to get up from the table.