Since I acquired an iPhone, I have noticed myself going online more and more in a thoughtless fashion, in the manner of a fly fleetingly landing on something before buzzing off..
There's a round of websites I go to - the Daily Mail, my blog, twitter, Facebook, Runner's World. Nothing where I concentratedly read or think.
This internet use gives me a feeling of relaxation in a sort of grazing bovine way. There's nothing meaty and I don't get any challenge from what I choose to read or visit. (More interesting sites I bookmark and read later).
So there is a sense of escapism in my experience of internet use, but also something Pavlovian which is bit disturbing. It is learned behaviour and so I've decided to stop filling my head with crap (the Daily Mail website in particular, which is addictively well-designed and horribly shallow and misogynistic).
It gives cheap and instant hit like junk food and I've had enough of its diet of vacuous stories and body fascism. So I will only look at it at work where it is a useful tool for my paper's slightly less demented 'infotainment'.
It is easier to go online than pick up a book. Or just simply be idle and let your thoughts flow. You need to be free of distractions for the mind to change gears, deepen and shift.
I had the odd experience the other day of meeting someone I hadn't seen for years. Yet I felt I knew her well as I had followed her life as a Facebook friend. The virtual had become 'realer' than the real.
I feel a bit sad for my ten year old when we talk about things I wasn't even aware of until I was 13 or 14. Terrorism, drug use, the morality of capital punishment. The world is encroaching more and more on childhood. Childhood is analogous to the creative state of openness, curiosity, not-knowing. A place of play and creation, of being in the present, in a state of 'flow' that can be found, sometimes, in running, or writing.
Sometimes I am afraid of the internet and its reach. It is very stealthy and highly rewarding. I fear the encroachment onto something precious - that some children born into the internet age already know of no other way and that we may lose something irreducibly human in ourselves.
Anyway, I'm going away next week to a remote part of Scotland with no internet at all. I'm going to write and write, I hope. I wonder how long I shall miss the internet habit, if at all..