So, the Internet is a weird place. But I don’t have to tell you that. You’re on it. Right now. And I’d bet money you’ve been to some weird websites and had some strange offers.
Just today, I had a guy write to me on Facebook to warn me that the NSA may have implanted devices in my eyes at my last eye exam without me knowing it. At first I thought it was spam, but after checking out his profile, I think they guy may have been sincere. That’s the thing that gets me about it. We train our minds to ignore the bizarre spam written in bot-style English and packed so tightly with innocuous words to fool our spam filters that a human being can’t even figure out what they’re selling, but that’s okay, because they’ve included a handy-dandy link, in case their babble intrigued you enough that you want more!
But amidst all the tin-foil hats, scams, and lets not forget the constant political messages, there’s something about the internet that’s comforting. Yes, it’s a bit of a cesspool here and there, it’s easy to lose hours at a time doing nothing productive, and you can’t really count that much is “safe for work”, but the comforting thing is that there’s a place for everyone.
I came across this site, I Hate Butterflies. Don’t ask how or why. I don’t hate butterflies. I don’t really have strong emotions about them either way, but I do kinda love this website. Not the content or the concept, but just the fact that it exists. There’s a facebook page that goes with it, and apparently 1500 people also hate butterflies.
This is when it struck me… this is why the internet is so addictive. No matter what we love, what we hate, what we do with our spare time, what we campaign for or against, there’s a place for it…. and for us. We can find a receptive audience to share our conspiracy theories about how the strips in our credit cards can be used to find us by global tracking systems, find a forum of people who also are grossed out by the fact that honey is bee vomit. Turned on by unicorn porn? There’s a community for that too. (Late night google/giggle session with a friend taught me that one.)
And it isn’t even necessarily that we want to go talk to other people who hate butterflies, but if you did hate them, wouldn’t it be comforting to know that out there in the world, at least 1500 other people feel the same way?
The internet is instant validation for any idea, any belief, any phobia or predilection. Love something, hate something, want to be something, wallow in obsession over something or someone… you can do it all in the comfort of you home, and have the additional comfort of feeling like you’re not alone.
I think, deep down, that’s what we all want anyway: to feel like we’re not alone, like we belong and fit in. So even with the ills the internet brings, the drama and bad news and unregulated muck it can funnel into our lives, all of that is a small price to pay to find a spot. Our spot. That one place where we know someone out there will accept and understand, where we don’t have to question whether we’re weird or crazy… even if we think everyone else we meet there is weird and at least a little bit crazy.