At Home on the Death Star

I think I might be a wee bit broken. A life spent increasingly online has done something to me, something that no stream of Distractify quizzes or compilation of cute kittens is able to fix right now.

It’s like I got sucked up by a tractor beam into the wake of the Death Star.

I’ve never thought of myself as an optimist. But I think I was fooling myself. Sure, there were spirals into depression and Woody Allen style NYC neurosis, but underneath it all, under the goth makeup and bad poetry of my youth, the self-deprecating gallows humor of my twenties, even now, amid the swirling eddy of my forty-something rage, was a belief in the goodness of the human raceThe belief that despite a never-ending string of Vaders parading across the world’s stage, the Jedis always win. Sometimes it takes a few prequels to get the schematics and come up with a plan, but the good guys prevail.

I’m beginning to think I was wrong.

Or at least that’s what a life spent online is causing me to think. And this cycle of uncertainty and questioning has a force choke on my sense of self.

In my quest to put my voice out there–as a flare, a guidepost, a way of joining with others to increase the volume, I may have gone too far, gotten lost in too many comment threads, traveled down too many rabbit holes.

It’s pretty dank and dismal down there. If the internet has become my own personal Death Star, right now I’m stuck in the trash compactor, walls closing in, stinking of shit.

Light and dark, good and evil, right and wrong. Which way do we fall on the scales? Sometimes after half a bottle of wine my husband humors me and we have a buzzy debate about the nature of man. Are we inherently bad, kept in check by some complicated contraption of rules and law held together with duct tape and a prayer? Or are we inherently good, mostly Yoda with a few Emperor Palpatines popping up along the way?

I keep insisting we are good. And besides, the nature of man is just that, I argue. Man. Everything’s been tried, my husband says, and it always devolves along the same pattern. No, no, I insist, not everything. And we pour more wine and debate some more until he tells me my allotted time for serious topics is up and there is a football match on television.

But lately my time online has made me doubt my faith in the Rebel Alliances of the world. That, in and of itself is a sad thing. And it is only made sadder because it’s something I brought upon myself.

In my own desire to be part of something, to be seen, heard, in the vain hope that a lone voice could add something to the conversation, my online life has become a pyramid–both an outsize monument and a scheme. I got invited onto the Death Star and I went. And now, after much wandering around, I’m feeling pretty comfy.

I don’t want to live my life with the bitter aftertaste I’m left with after any time spent online these days. I don’t want feel dirty, spent, laying awake at night trying to figure out if my online activities are an exercise in support or if it’s merely feeding my own ego. In reality, it’s probably a mixture of both, but the feeling of accomplishment–a reader reaching out, a civilized debate, conversing with like-minded people– is competing with darker forces.

I am living my own Empire/Rebel Alliance in my life online. The escape pod is in my line of sight: Log off, delete my accounts, go on my merry way.

Yet I don’t. That’s where the ego comes in, I guess. Building the pyramid. I mean, the Death Star was really nothing more than a galactic pyramid if you think about it.

How long can you roam around the halls of the Death Star without starting to feel like one of the troops, before a little bit of the darkness rubs off on you? What happens when the idea of blowing it up becomes hard to imagine because, hey, you’re just getting to know your way around.

I’m not sure what my role is here, or even if there is a role to fill. Life online has brought me joy, and it has connected me with amazing people I wouldn’t otherwise know. It has expanded my tribe and brought me success. It’s brought me laughter and it keeps me informed. But it has also brought me into contact with a dark side of human nature I wasn’t prepared for. Am I better for knowing it exists? Philosophically, yes. In reality? It’s like eating cotton candy and going to bed without brushing your teeth. You feel kind of gross and when you wake up in the morning, the first thing you taste is the very thing that made you feel sick.

Leia would keep looking for new ways to figure it all out. Old man Luke chucked it all in to go live on a craggy rock and do some soul-searching.

Do or do not, there is no try, right?

I’ll let you know. Unless I’m on an uninhabited rock somewhere, you know, without WiFi.

 

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13 thoughts on “At Home on the Death Star

  1. emzmommie02 April 25, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    Please don’t stop writing. I enjoy reading your thoughts and I feel not so alone in mine. Currently we live in a world of near disasters, It is hard to see something as a “win” because a crazy Orange man keeps trying to tell us such a thing is possible and he keeps claiming he is doing the winning. He’s not but we still feel like losers. I am thankful for all of the little disasters the world keeps missing. I look at those as little victories.. It is easy to see all the bad stuff. It is what makes headlines and sells the newspapers.( yep I’m old).
    I will finish up using your the Star Wars analogy. What would Rey do? She would just keep fighting and doing the right thing. She doesn’t have training or money or fancy space ships. One step at a time.. Hope this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dina Honour April 26, 2017 / 9:31 am

      Well, thank you. On all fronts. Being thankful for ‘all the little disasters the world keeps missing’ is indeed something to be grateful for and it puts a nice spin on things. Rey, however, is a hell of a lot younger than me and can climb a mountain without huffing and puffing her way up–I see a lot of Rey in the world, but I also worry that Rey is going to have to go through a lot of pain and hard times before things get better. As I said to someone else recently, it’s always hard to see beyond when you’re stuck in the middle of something, but there is always a beyond, you just have to hang on to get there.

      Like

  2. Elyse April 26, 2017 / 12:08 am

    Well, given that I haven’t written anything for my own blog for ages, I feel funny telling you to keep at it on yours. But that hasn’t stopped me before.

    Your writing does have a lot of power — whether you’re talking about world affairs (or rather world crumbling), motherhood, living abroad, marriage, or any other part of life. The fact that you talk about so many different things is part of your charm, I think.

    Writing helps me figure out how I feel about things. It forces me to formulate rational arguments or discussion points. It helps me create order in my ADD-addled brain.

    Maybe you just need a little time away from it. Before you come back strong of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dina Honour April 26, 2017 / 9:27 am

      Yes to all the reasons you listed why you write–and it’s the same reason why I continue to have conversations about the same things, come at it from a slightly different angle and see if it looks any different in the morning. I think I’ve reached a point where all the access points are blocked off–and that I’m just adding to the blockage. Maybe the trick is letting it erode naturally and then looking for a new way in when things have cleared up. Who knows??!! That’s part of the mix-up in my head at the moment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lynn April 26, 2017 / 11:17 pm

    I read your post last night and wanted to take time to think about it before responding. (I always try to read your blog but don’t always write a response.)

    I think I get what you’re saying. I’ve realized that there are times I need breaks from being online so that I don’t allow it to take over my life. When I think of how much time I spend online each week … well, it begs the question of if it is well-spent. (And the niggling suspicion that at least half of it likely is not.) My justification is that I think it does help to keep my sanity at socially acceptable levels, and that the give-and-take I have online with people I have never met in person (like you) calms the am-I-the-only-one feelings, sometimes stokes inspiration, and/or provides the necessary anger to provoke occasional bouts of purposeful action. Without the readings and communications I see and participate in online, I would be more alone.

    Living in a rural, conservative area with few others who seem to share similar interests makes online writing or conversations a way to not bottle up everything. It also serves a role that prevents my husband or grown children from beginning to anticipate that every conversation with ol’ Mom will be 1. how our narcissistic idiot president and Congress are fueling the world’s ills, 2. the chaos of trying to get high school students to give a shit about anything academic, or 3. how concerns about my elderly parents are becoming a weekly issue — all served up with a side of what-the-hell-to-do-about-it frustration.

    There are times that what I read or write online does feel like a full-body head-first fling into a dark well of more dark thoughts, but I also think I have to go there virtually to be able to shake it off most of the time in real life. Being able to get online and “WTF!!!” with other people who are going “WTF!!!” over the same stuff helps me. Otherwise I worry that I might start to be like Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen, except that instead of walking around with a personal cloud of odorous funk it would be one of despair or hostility. (I know this is not true of all folks; that some come out of their time online with a coating of the darkness, like a bird caught in an oil spill and no ability to hose off the slime. I had times like that post-election, but I’ve gotten better about not letting it stick to my feathers. I’ve learned to get out of threads of negative or hateful comments or to even block some people who will never bring anything nourishing to the table. Didn’t always do that and then I felt polluted for awhile afterward.)

    Not always or even a lot, but often enough I can bring information or a perspective to online conversations that seems to contribute, or I can garner those benefits from someone else. If an exchange seems open and thoughtful, and I’m learning or helping someone else, the time is well-spent. I’ve stopped (most of the time) wasting my time arguing with those whose eyes are solely focused on the blinding flicker of fake information and whose feet are planted deep in the concrete of caring only about themselves. I’ve been trying to force myself to ask, Would it be better to spend this time with people you know–husband, grandkids, kids, or parents? or Would it be wiser to spend it grading papers (ugh!), taking a walk, or reading a book than being online?, and to also evaluate my mental fortitude before getting online. Is a little bit going to be enough or am I going to blaze through an entire evening if I start? Do I need to get something out of my system and is this the best way to do it?

    There’s an addictive quality to being online that can begin to feel like quicksand, and I want to avoid that, yet I’m not looking to totally kick the habit. Just want to manage it better.

    If you’re feeling the quicksand or the slime it might be time to take a break or reduce the time spent, but I hope you don’t quit all together. I enjoy your writing and it makes me think.

    Balance in all things.

    Like

    • Dina Honour April 27, 2017 / 9:56 am

      “There’s an addictive quality to being online that can begin to feel like quicksand, and I want to avoid that, yet I’m not looking to totally kick the habit.”

      This is exactly what I was trying to get at–and add to that, is the addiction part feeding my own ego? That’s where I was trying to go with the pyramid analogy. Am I spending all this time, writing and responding and arguing with people I don’t know on the internet as an exercise in good, or am I, I increasingly worry, doing it because others agree with me and it feels good when other people agree with you. It’s an interesting psychological exercise for me–when I can separate it out. I don’t doubt my beliefs, I am willing to learn, to read more, sometimes to compromise and even, on the (rare) occasion to admit I’m wrong ;-). So I don’t need the backup of likes and shares necessarily to shore up my belief system. But…it’s nice, and it feels good. And that’s where I need to watch myself, to make sure that I’m doing what I am doing, whether it’s ranting or conversing, or “wtf”ing in support rather than simply to make myself feel better (not make myself feel better in an “I’m not alone way, but in a narcissistic way).

      My other concern is that my frequent online–er–arguments (the ones that take place off the blog and on FB or Twitter) are, time wise, stopping me from doing more creative work, which could be used to support all of what we are talking about. It’s easy to get lost in comment threads and arguments and look up at the clock and realize that 3 hours have gone by–or half a day-and for me, that’s where the feeling of ‘dirtiness’ comes into play. (Probably most of that is residual Catholic guilt, but that’s a different post!). Could my time be better spent working on other projects? Absolutely. And yet time after time I push them aside and allow myself to get sucked in. I didn’t get kidnapped onto the Death Star. I walked right on, of my own volition.

      I won’t quit–it was never about quitting–it was about using the time to do good, but good not just for ME.

      I know you don’t comment all the time, but you always make up for it when you do, and I thank you for that. I hope that the conversations ease a little bit of the loneliness of feeling like the only one. You’re not.

      D

      Like

  4. Alice April 27, 2017 / 11:52 am

    Many thoughts in response, but it’s 5 in the morning and ain’t none of ’em coherent enough to type out on a phone before I gotta get up. So I’ma condense it all down to this: I hear you. I empathize. And — to quote a cheesy movie character, himself quoting the immortal words of David Cassidy — I think I love you. In whatever strange, attenuated way that emotion stretches through these virtual ways of communing, to include people we’ve never actually met.

    So y’know, fwiw, ya got that going for ya too. And something tells me you can rock a mean pair of hair donuts, should need and opportunity arise…

    Like

  5. Melanie McNeil April 28, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    You get to choose how much time you spend online, how much time you spend outside, or with your family, or doing something “creative” or “productive.” Maybe it’s time to shift your focus a bit, while not giving it up altogether. Taking a break is good.

    Peace, and hugs.

    Like

    • Dina Honour April 28, 2017 / 5:42 pm

      I think that’s part of the problem! I’m ‘choosing’ to spend too much time online, and not in the most productive ways–it makes me question if I’m doing it for agreement, or for argument–both of those are darkness in their own way to me. I’m still struggling to find the balance. But then again, so was Anakin Skywalker.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Paul Grizenko May 9, 2017 / 5:39 am

    1. Don’t stop writing. We (The World) need to hear your voice. And thoughts. And occassional screams of frustration.
    2. The Death Star has only as much power as you give it. If on-line gets too toxic, go into the nearest woods, immerse yourself in the sound of life procreating, and remember that trolls have bad skin, whether due to lack of sunlight, or bad diet.
    3. The world IS filled with intelligent women. However, only a few write. So don’t stop.
    4. Across the chasm of the gender divide, sometimes it helps to know that the chasm dwindles into a tiny crack. Not always, and not everywhere. But more often than the pessimists fear.
    4. The blog is an extended conversation. Since when do we want to stop figuring out stuff?

    Like

    • Dina Honour May 9, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      Wow. Thank you for this. It came at the perfect time.

      Like

  7. Akshita June 6, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    This was potrayed so well, made me as a teenager wonder about what we are coming to, a place where you can’t eat without updating it on snapchat or enjoying a concert without taking a video, seems like you’re asking for the next impossible thing!
    Anyways, loved this 🙂

    Like

    • Dina Honour June 7, 2017 / 9:19 am

      The upside? Anthropologists in a few thousand years (assuming we last that long) will have no problem tracing the food choices of 21st century humans. It’s all be instagrammed ;-).

      Like

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