Inner Peace in the Internet World

In observance of a day of peace 2011

No lie, my husband and I have had this exchange before, and contrary to conventional social norms, I was the one sitting on the computer. I don’t know if it’s my yearning to help people become better educated about things they misunderstand or my strong equalist values or even leftover instincts from childhood drama, but if there’s internet drama afoot, I will find it. I used to frequent the snark sites like Regretsy, ONTD, Go Fug Yourself and FandomWank like they were breaking news sites. I got caught up in Calling Out on Etsy and in any social media disasters that happened. I scanned the news for the latest celebrity making a fool of themselves. And stories about Sarah Palin or John Boehner… oh, just let me at them. I would read and seethe and share links and shout opinions and talk my husband’s ear off about how ridiculous it is that the Palins were still getting attention.

And one day, I realized something.

My shouting, my ranting… I was just feeding into the drama machine that I proclaimed to be so upset with. If I didn’t think that Sarah Palin was worth the press coverage she got, well, why was I contributing to it? Why was I reading it and giving them pageviews and reason to write even more? Was I doing myself any good by getting worked up about something that I couldn’t change? No. In fact, I was doing myself a disservice. I was putting myself in a sour mood because of this woman who I didn’t think was worth my time. Where was the sense in that?

So I banned Sarah Palin from my life. And since then, I’ve been on a banning spree: Teen Mom – BANNED. Jersey Shore – BANNED. Westboro Baptist and Terry Jones – BANNED. Lindsey Lohan and her probation status – BANNED. After the first post I read about his meltdown, Charlie Sheen received the BANNED treatment last week.

Now, I’m not just denying anything I don’t want to hear; that’s not a healthy way of looking at the world. But these people and things that I’ve banned… they don’t matter. Sarah Palin is someone who quit their political position and currently holds no power to make or change laws in this country – if it weren’t for the microphone that the press gives her, she’d be up in Alaska, going to hockey games and shooting moose and no one would care. Pressing issues, however, like the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood and the full out assault on women’s rights that’s happening right now… I won’t ignore those topics because those issues matter and those I can do something about. I can participate in peaceful protests such as the fantastic Walk for Choice last weekend. I can write to my representatives and I can encourage my friends to do the same. I can make my voice heard when it matters, instead of shouting at the wind until I lose that voice.

In doing this, I’ve found a sense of balance between what I read and what really matters. I’ve found a sense of peace. I’ll still go check out the snark sites every so often, but I gravitate toward the more lighthearted posts. The flat out mean ones don’t sit well with me, anymore. It’s still hard to fight the initial urge to feed into internet negativity, but I do my best. Am I missing out on drama and people being wrong? Sure. But I’ve gained perspective and peace, which are worth more than all the flounces in the world.

(Image credit: xkcd “Duty Calls”