Why Don’t You Just F…-The Double Edged Sword Of The Internet And How To Blunt It
When I was a little boy, back in the 1970s, there was a programme on the BBC during the summer holidays called “Why Don’t You..?” Here’s an example of an episode from 1973.
Sorry about the annoying test signal tone at the beginning, but I think it’s worth it to check out the state of the art countdown technology on the clapperboard. As you can see, the full title of the programme was “Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go And Do Something Less Boring Instead?” You can tell it was made in the 70s because valves come out of the exploding television set when the kid puts his foot through the screen during the titles. You didn’t need to put the gas fire on while you were watching telly when I was a kid. The valves in the set generated enough heat to keep the whole room warm.
You couldn’t have got away with making a programme which actively encourages its viewers to switch their TV’s off in America. The advertisers wouldn’t stand for it. Fortunately-or unfortunately- this programme was made in England. The BBC doesn’t need advertising revenue because it’s funded by the Television Licence. Even if you never watch the BBC, you still have to pay them or face a fine or even jail time. This is a concept Americans find hard to wrestle with. It still gives most Brits a bit of trouble, to tell you the truth.
The 1973 episode is actually a bit before my time. When I watched the programme, it had changed its name to “Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set And Go Out And Do Something Less Boring Instead?” Presumably the title was changed because angry mothers wrote in to the BBC, sick of kids trying out the things in the programme at home and wanting their offspring to head outdoors and out from under their feet.
Whatever the reason, “Why Don’t You” did encourage kids to switch off their television sets as a matter of policy, not just by being shit. And there’s no doubt that it was shit. That was a long time ago though. Young or old, turning our brains to mush by sitting in front of the goggle box is a bit old hat. Nowadays, we turn our brains to mush by sitting in front of our computers. The Google Box, if you will.
Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is a wonderful thing. Research which once would have taken you hours in a public library now takes minutes. Granted, it’ll almost certainly be factually incorrect, but it definitely doesn’t take nearly as long.
I have two cats, so I like videos of them being endearingly clumsy as much as the next man. Social media? It allows you to communicate with people on the other side of the world without incurring the mortgage sized telephone bills that would have been involved not so long ago. You can even interact with famous people. I’ve had people who I’ve admired for years follow me on Twitter. No idea why they followed me. I guess famous people get drunk and press buttons they shouldn’t press at 3 in the morning, same as the rest of us.
Sadly, The Internet’s not all Lolcats and the odd celebrity scalp on your Twitter followers list. There are things on the Internet that can fuck you up good and proper. Porn is probably the obvious example. Not that there’s anything wrong with porn, per se. Even really disgusting, horrible porn has its place, as long as everyone involved is actually into what’s happening and is a fully grown adult.
The content of the porn is not the main problem. Nothing wrong with a finite amount of porn. Porn in moderation. The problem is that the Internet has an infinite amount of porn, or as near to infinite as makes no odds. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve settled down for a nice relaxing wank and realised that four hours have passed and not only do I not have a hard on but I haven’t touched my penis- or even though about it for that matter- for about 3 and a half hours. I’ve just clicked from link to link to link with a gormless, mesmerized look on my face. In terms of sexual stimulation, I might as well have not bothered installing my browser and just played the Mah Jong program that came free with the computer. It’s really better to read books or use your imagination.
The Internet has a terrible gravity of its own that can draw you in and stop you from getting on with the practical aspects of your life. You can literally spend days on a chatroom thread arguing with people you’ve never met about subjects everyone involved has no real experience of. And he amongst us who has not wasted an entire day watching random YouTube videos, then let him cast the first stone.
Blogs are good though. I like blogs. You can express yourself and see how the world really feels about it, rather than being soft soaped by your friends. You can put photos and videos on them and create something that’s never been created before. Best of all though, you go out and actually do things and blog about what you’ve done. So, Why Don’t You Just Find Something Interesting To Do, Meet New People While You Do It And Tell The World About It On The Internet. It’s good for that sort of thing, the Internet. And if anyone online criticizes you for doing it, or tries convince you to stop, send them a message telling them to “fuck off”. Put a little smiley face on the end though. There’s no excuse for being rude.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014