I fear for the world the Internet is creating.

Have you tried watching your favourite TV shows of the 90s or early 2000s lately? Have you noticed how it has drastically changed and most importantly how your opinions and humour has? For example, I have watched all seasons of How I Met Your Mother and Friends countless times before but I’m watching it again lately and I’m surprised how not only do I no longer laugh at their jokes but I cringe on most of them, and they leave me offended. Okay, maybe offended is a not the right word. But I’m definitely not happy, and most of the jokes just seem wrong to me.

The World the Internet is Creating

It seems like a lot has changed in a very short period and I believe like many others, that Facebook/Google and the new internet as a whole, is contributing to this cultural and knowledge consumption shift. Ellen Ullman describes it perfectly in “Life in Code“, she said,

“I fear for the world the Internet is creating. Before the advent of the web, if you wanted to sustain a belief in far-fetched ideas, you had to go out into the desert, or live on a compound in the mountains, or move from one badly furnished room to another in a series of safe houses. Physical reality—the discomfort and difficulty of abandoning one’s normal life—put a natural break on the formation of cults, separatist colonies, underground groups, apocalyptic churches, and extreme political parties.

But now, without leaving home, from the comfort of your easy chair, you can divorce yourself from the consensus on what constitutes “truth.” Each person can live in a private thought bubble, reading only those websites that reinforce his or her desired beliefs, joining only those online groups that give sustenance when the believer’s courage flags.”

And it is scary.

The last time I watched How I Met Your Mother and Friends and laughed was around 5 or 6 years ago. The only thing that has changed for me since then is my consumption of information from the internet and social media platforms. I used to think that people who aren’t active on the internet are losing so much great information. It looks like they aren’t. They most likely have the most genuine curiosity and thinking out there, free from any bias other than their own.

We’ve heard about Silicon Valley, and technology expert’s fear of smartphone dystopia and Apple investors call for action over iPhone ‘addiction’ among children. It seems that the darknet should be the least of our concerns. What we should worry about is the shallowest part of the internet which is easily accessible to everyone and is highly controlled and manipulated by algorithms.

Is this the price we have to pay for convenience? I don’t think so.

No Spend Year Update

I have been successful with “No Spend Year” except for last week’s trip to the mall. Someone tweeted about a sale at Bath and Body Works. Bath and Body Works at my local mall is located right in front of the supermarket, so convenient. So, after grocery shopping, I went to the store to check out the promotions. I bought a couple of foam wash and candles which I don’t need. It was only when I reached home that I realised that I wasn’t supposed to shop.

So it got me thinking, how could I forget? I thought about how my mother used to do her grocery shopping, which she does only once a month. She buys all the meat, poultry, fish and vegetables at the local wet market. Gets them fresh, in-season and usually, on the same day, she’s supposed to use them. She makes a list of things to get at the supermarket and usually buys them in bulk. The list comes with a budget. She pays in cash. She uses a rewards card.

I’m trying to develop a little exercise which I hope will eventually turn into a routine brought about by last week’s mishap.

Life Changes to make No Spend Year a success

  1. Only bring cash enough for food while at work and petrol. All credit and debit cards remain at home. The idea of these cards is “convenience”. But then, it has become so convenient that you will not think twice about spending. This is probably unnecessary for those with good financial control. This helps me manage my time as well. If someone asks me to do something after work, unplanned, I can only do so if it doesn’t involve me shelling out money. If something happens that I need to pay for something that I don’t have the cash-in-hand for, I can always go home to get more money. I don’t think there is anything that will not allow me to do so. This also makes it easier to schedule and know if you really have to do something.
  2. When buying something, how often will I use it and for how long? When I first moved here, I bought a Kindle because I didn’t want to have to worry about shipping physical books to the Philippines or elsewhere. After almost eight years, I have sent a couple of boxes of books to home already, and I still have a lot left (selling at a flea market soon to get rid some of them). We have become so attached to our physical belongings that it started owning us and influencing our choices and decisions. I needed to hire movers to shift houses last time because my books alone were too heavy. Since I also plan on moving to Canada whose power outlets have a different rating than here, it means most of my electronics and appliances won’t work there. So, if I have to buy something, and I can’t easily tell if it’s a want rather than a need, then I ask myself, how often will I use it, and for how long.
  3. Do not buy anything the first time you heard/read about it. Wait for months before considering. Chances are, you won’t want to buy it then.
  4. Get rid of stuff you don’t use. Somehow with less, I feel more complete. It also makes me more aware of the things I add to my life.
  5. Do things the long or old-fashioned way. So much of the conveniences we have right now is built or developed to make us want and buy more. Except for Excel, I can’t imagine life without it. Think about Whatsapp and how it has changed the way we communicate. Nowadays it’s even considered as a proper channel of communication for work and doing business. Instead of ordering food, go to the supermarket yourself and make it. I’m starting slowly on this one; eventually, I want to do a lot of things the old-fashioned way like making my bread.

I remember watching the Jetson’s religiously as a kid (okay, even as a teen) and I used to think, “Hey, that future is so cool!”. Now, not so much anymore.

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