Give us some space to think – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Give us some space to think

Give us some space to think

I am a person with feelings. Maybe more feelings than is strictly necessary, but that is neither here nor there.

The internet is full of people with feelings. Strong feelings. It is a hive of hyper-awareness, a rushing river of emotionally charged issues. When the internet rises, it has the collaborative power to bring about great change in areas that previously have been swept under the carpet. The internet forces accountability for public figures. It addresses issues of transparency in government. It serves as a platform for people to stand up and say, “Hey, what you’re doing is not okay with me.”

There is some bad activism happening on the internet. Lazy activism. ‘Share this photo on Facebook and you will save the lives of all the women bought into sexual slavery.”

But there’s good activism, too. People with big voices and the ability to influence and effect change.

Mega high fives to those people, they are the bomb/banning the bomb.

The thing is, at the other end of that scale, beyond even lazy and bad activism, there is another type of internet predator that plays on our emotions. Sensationalist online journalism. Or pretend journalism. People and media outlets that need everyone to be astounded and incensed by all the things, all the time.

Internet, please, stop telling me how I should feel!

I waddle my way through my online life, reading the things that affect me or interest me or tickle my funny bone. I frown, I cry, I write letters, I make phone calls, I laugh, I share, I admire. When it comes to taking the internet seriously, I probably sit somewhere in the middle, between “outraged by everything” and “watching cat videos in my underpants”.

But the internet shouts.

As I push my way around, through strange new social networks full of porn and clever new websites for people with brains, the internet tells me how I feel about things.

You will love this!

You have to see this!

This will change your life!

You will be so angry when you read this!

This will change the way you think about your kids, your husband, your dog, your mother and that guy at the supermarket!

By the time I’ve been on the internet for ten minutes, I am exhausted. I don’t know who I am or where I live.

I like the internet because it gives a voice to people with feelings. Those genuine, powerful, emotive voices encourage other people with other voices to think. And when everyone is thinking (not shouting), that’s when the real change happens.

When you force your hyperbole on us, you dilute the voices. People who have real opinions about things are drowned out by your insistence that we all watch a YouTube clip because otherwise we will never again find meaning in our puny lives. You’re a diversion and a distraction, taking away attention from the things that really deserve the space in our brains that has room for feeling ways about things.

Knock it off. Seriously*.

* videos of kittens excepted.

  • Kelly Exeter

    March 13, 2013 at 11:04 am Reply

    Amen sista. Amen.

    All the confected outrage is friggin exhausting. And I am tired of being told what I should and shouldn’t be outraged about

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 13, 2013 at 11:13 am Reply

      Yep! I’m also tired of not being trusted with my own decision making.

  • Emily

    March 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm Reply

    The scary thing is that it works. Some people love not having to think for themselves. A ready-made opinion? Woohoo!

    So it’s not going anywhere for a while, methinks.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      March 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm Reply

      hah, true. Maybe we need an internet with ready-made opinions and one without shouting?

  • Sam Stone

    March 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm Reply

    Some people lap it up! They believe anything that is told to them.

    BTW, I love your writing.

    And on an unrelated topic, I nominated you over on my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger award –

  • Jodi Gibson

    March 14, 2013 at 7:27 am Reply

    I am so sick of those sensationalist tweets. Blah! Blah! Blah! There is one site (which shall remain nameless) who is just the worst and teasing you to click. Or maybe we are the worst being drawn like a sheep to slaughter so tempted to click…

  • Mr Squiggle

    March 17, 2013 at 7:35 pm Reply

    I don’t know how to feel about this. Also, I think you’ll find the Macquarie changed it to ‘hyperbowl’.

  • Sam

    March 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm Reply

    love love love this blog and I see I’m not the first to nominate you on their list of very inspiring bloggers.


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