Doing my internet work at the ‘hub’ for start-ups that the Jerusalem Council has very kindly located right next door to my house is giving me a lot of food for thought.
When I first started going there, a couple of months’ back, there were already a few ‘regulars’ who seemed to have the whole start-up / internet entrepreneur thing sussed.
Their conversations were full of impressive-sounding strategies for how to use Twitter, and how to reach people by paying writers to pretend to be fake people using their products on Fakebook, and how to optimise opportunities via Amazon Associates etc etc
Despite myself, I was secretly impressed – and not so secretly thrown for a loop. I mean, they sounded so with-it and sorted, they were surely making millions already…
And me? Well, I’m still waiting for my ship to come in and my efforts to pay off.
Somewhere deep down, I started to think that maybe I had to start playing the game a whole lot more, if I really wanted to get somewhere online.
Maybe, I’d have to start investing a huge amount of effort in Twitter…Maybe, I’d have to hold my nose and start a Facebook account…Maybe, I’d have to waste huge chunks of time making stupid comments on other people’s posts to ‘maintain visibility’…
I’ll be honest: I started a Twitter account for JEMI; I started a Facebook page (purely business) for Talk to God. And after a couple of weeks, this is what I realised:
It’s all a crock!
God really doesn’t need me to waste my time trying to garner likes, retweets or comments in order to do something useful with my life.
Meanwhile, back at the hub, the wheels were starting to come off a lot of the bright, shiny ‘internet entrepreneurs’. They aren’t all going bonkers (yet…) but there are some definite signs of wear and tear on even the most bullish and optimistic ones.
As I watched them get more and more stressed, and angry, and less and less friendly and even plain nice, this is what I realised:
Being on the internet too much is literally driving people insane.
There’s many reasons for this.
1) It makes you waste a lot of time on things that appear to be useful, which are anything but.
Then, you get to the end of the day wondering where all that effort and investment went, and you have nothing to show for it.
2) It gives you a false sense of connection, that actually just leaves you feeling incredibly empty as soon as you power-off.
The first few weeks of doing things like Linked In, or writing articles for Ezine, I was thrilled to be back in the ‘real world’ again, and connecting to people. Then, I realised how lonely I felt after I’d sent another email monologue, or read through a few other people’s posts.
It was like trying to connect to a statue, or a ghost. There was an impression or illusion of a relationship there, but actually nothing underneath. I imagine regular users of Facebook must feel the emptiness in their real lives even more acutely.
3) It literally saps your strength and energy.
This is a whole big post for another time, but I could feel enormous differences in my mood and my energy levels when I was working on a computer that was connected to the internet, and when I wasn’t.
To put it simply, the electrical frequency that things like WiFi are operating on completely fry out the human electrical system that’s part of the miraculous way that God operates the human body. It’s like having all your circuits scrambled – it literally drains you of energy, changes your mood, and puts you into a type of hypnotic trance.
(BTW, this is also a big part of the reason why internet use is actually physically addictive, but I’ll talk about that another time.)
4) It blurs the line between real and unreal
More than anything else, watching the erstwhile internet entrepreneurs literally waste hours of their precious time pipe dreaming about the online businesses they were building, and the online audiences they are capturing, has taught me a very profound lesson about how the yetzer hara can use our power of imagination against us.
In internet make believe land:
- You HAVE to have a dotcom for anyone to take you seriously…
- Your website has to have a beta model, take 6 months to put together, and cost a minimum of $10k…
- You have to be working Twitter and Facebook all day and all night – even creating a slew of fake people, to help you promote your product…
- No-one really gives a monkeys about how your email address ends.
- You can do a very nice website (or 5) on DIY sites like Weebly for a few bucks’ a month, and no-one will ever know the difference.
- Twitter and Facebook are a complete waste of time – everyone is churning it out, but no-one is really paying attention to what anyone else is saying.
Once I realised all this (and it took me a few good weeks to really see through the illusion), I stopped taking all the internet and social media stuff seriously. I got back in touch with my belief that God is running the world – even crazy places like pretend internet entrepreneur land – and I cut back my visits to the hub to maximum 2 or 3 times a week.
The last thing I did is take up knitting. It may not sound as impressive as sending tweets to 800 people every day, but it’s a heck of a lot more enjoyable and productive.