Friday, 17 February 2012

My disappearance from the internet world explained

Much to the disappointment of some of the men in my life, any interest in dystopian literature was eroded after I came to the conclusion that no one will ever do it better than Orwell and watching otherwise talented writers try is a somewhat painful experience.

My relationship with technology is ambiguous, to say the least. “It's complicated”, as Facebook would have me characterise it. The desperate desire to be a part of every new advance is crippling, both financially and in terms of the time I've wasted creating blogs, profiles, accounts, downloading apps and reading tutorials.

But the connection which individuals can have with the rest of the world in the 21st Century is unparalleled by anything imaginable in a age. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of this tangled web of so-called interaction have become apparent to me of late.

I was told that the way to get “into” journalism was simple(ish): post interesting links on Twitter, get as many followers as possible on your blog and make sure that when you turn up to networking events people recognise your name. I did all of these things and it got me nowhere.

Two disturbing events led me to lose interest in using the internet to mix the personal with the professional. The first seed of doubt was planted in my mind when I was turned down from a job based on some of the more opinionated political views expressed on my blog. More specifically:

“...despite being extremely impressed by your writing skills and experience, after reading some of your submitted samples we feel that your style and topics of choice are not in line with those of the ideal candidate.”

Not long after this confusing rejection, I acquired a Twitter-stalker. I don't mean one of those annoying users who incessantly @reply to everything you say in the hope of gaining more followers. I'm referring to someone who scrolled so far through every piece of information publicly available about me that he knew the in-depth details of my personal life and eventually turned up at my place of work demanding I speak to him.

Clearly there are safeguards which I ignored. Perhaps I should have remembered the words spoken to me by my mother when I created my first MSN account at 13: “What's the point? Surely you can talk to your friends in person and I don't see why you'd want to talk to strangers. Isn't it dangerous?”

The success of Twitter has been in completely eroding the seedy connotations of chat-rooms of the late 1990s. People speak of their 'Twitter-friends' without embarrassment as people whom they have a true relationship with, despite living on opposite sides of the world and it's not strange or desperate, it's enlightened and tech-savvy.

Well, I got scared and yes, perhaps slightly paranoid. So I stopped posting on social networking sites and blogs and deleted most of the apps on my phone. I convinced myself that I was gaining nothing from it and that instant gratification was not worth the potential downfalls. I was wrong.

I am the kind of person that this medium was created for. Somewhat socially introvert yet with a passion for voicing controversial opinions and being able to discuss them intelligently. If this costs me a job or two in the future, I guess I can live with that – but I will definitely be deleting all GPS-based networks.

This is me back, people. Rejoice or recoil, at your will.