I love my wife. I really do.

Case in point: This past weekend was her parent's 40th wedding anniversary (the "ruby" anniversary, for anyone out there looking for ideas), and she and her sister (and their most wonderful husbands, naturally) pulled off a spectactular party. But that's not really why I bring that up. I bring it up because events like this bring family and family friends to town, and that inevitably leads to large dinners.

And that somehow always leads to conversations about email, blogs, and other internet oddities. Oddities which I seem to know all about and often involve myself in.

I don't know how some of you do it: sit there and answer questions, defending your interests while people rant about the utter uselessnsess and waste-of-time that the internet has become. Twitter? Why would anyone do that? Who cares what you just picked up at the grocery store?

And yet, I find it amusing. I think the key is this: in order to actually enjoy something that could otherwise become banal, trivial, or just redundant (Twitbook statustweets anyone?), you have to actually be creative in it. Basically, the key to it all is trying. Be funny. Be original. Be entertaining.

Only for some reason, when I hear the words coming out of my mouth, all I hear is, "Yes, I totally waste all my free time on the internet when I could be doing something meaningful in the world."

Maybe there's a hint of truth to that, but honestly, if something "meaningful in the world" was as interesting as all my usual distractions, wouldn't I be doing that instead?

I've had this blog for four and a half years now, and yes, in addition to that I have a facebook page, a twitter ID, and I've waded into countless other interactive internet (ad)ventures. For the most part? I've had a good time with it. Periodically things get stale and frustrating, but that's just the name of the game.

I try not to judge something before I've had a chance to look into it, and frankly, that's where I really appreciate my father-in-law. He's the type of guy who's curious about the internet and its many forms of communication. Short of twit-blog-booking on his own, he always makes an attempt to listen to me explain whatever it is that is occupying that little corner of my brain that needs entertaining. The Lovely Wife is much the same. While she may have, in the early days of our relationship, been skeptical about the online life, she at least appreciated that I found it stimulating [shut up], entertaining, and engaging. She's met some of the people that have travelled here to meet me, or have been passing through, and I'm pretty sure she agrees that they're all good people and worth knowing, whether they're local or live far away. In short, she goes beyond indulging me as I socialize with other internet dwellers.

But I can't say the same for most of the other people around the table at these family functions. And so usually I try to cut these conversations as short as I can, offer little that I will either regret saying or have to justify its merit endlessly.

Because in the end? If they were really curious about something? It wouldn't take a debate to prove its worth.

Posted bythemikestand at 12:00 PM  

3 stepped up to the mike:

SRH said... 2:03 PM, July 07, 2009  

Great post, Mike. Good to have you back

bethany actually said... 6:17 PM, July 07, 2009  

I so know this feeling. Part of the reason I hesitated to start a blog for so long is that it seemed, well, self-indulgent. I even had a good reason for doing so (wanting to keep faraway friends and family up to date on our lives, since Troy's in the Navy and we move all the time) and I still struggled with feeling like people would think I was weird.

Like you, I derive a lot of enjoyment and entertainment from the internet, but it spills over into my "real" life in so many ways. People online ask me to paint, so I get to exercise my creativity. I interact with people over email and twitter and make real friends, leading to playdates for our kids and true, deep friendships. Some chick in England has a self-portrait group on Flickr that I joined in a moment of impulsiveness, and that group has taught me SO much about photography. Some dude in Canada links to a YouTube video on Twitter, leading me to a new favorite TV show from which I derive great pleasure! ;-)

That's the thing about the internet that I try to remember when I'm explaining aspects of it to skeptics: it's a sort of tool, in the same way as the library or the mall or a university. You take from it what you can, you give back what you can. Is every moment at the library spent reading Shakespeare? No, some moments are spent reading romance novels or flicking through back issues of Sports Illustrated. Same thing with the internet.

Uh, sorry for the book. I guess I had lots to say. :-) said... 4:22 PM, July 13, 2009  

Actually if they were really curious about something they would have to go no further than the nearest computer... THAT'S what I love most about the internet. Aaaaaall that information.
Ok, that and spell check. I am a simple person. ;-)

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