I sat down on my daughter’s bed last night and snuggled in – a rare treat with a teen. Forcing a little closeness and it felt good. She carried on swiping through her phone with a dexterity that can only come from practice, liking photos of barely friends with a heart. She stopped at one whose look she objected to, took a screen shot and sent it to a friend: why? Why? Why? She asked her friend rhetorically.
‘The internet makes us all so judgmental’, I said to her. She could only nod her head.
We all have seeds of thoughts: little seeds of negative thoughts, when we don’t like a person’s choice of dress, or hair or actions. Dreams of holidays where the sea is clear and turquoise blue and the sand glides through our toes. Cravings for interiors that are clean and white and velvety grey. Wanting that gorgeous pair of boots, that dress, those shoes, that cashmere jumper to keep us toasty warm, because the nights are drawing in. Small seeds of worry, where we imagine that a rash is a fatal disease and a stomach ache is Cancer. Harmless seeds of fantasy, where sex is hot and horny.
The internet is the greenhouse for these thoughts. It germinates them quickly and they grow. They grow far bigger and stronger than they would without the hot house of the web.
Before you know it, you have put it in your basket and because it already knows your password, that seed of thought is quickly and easily real. Next day delivery is the icing on the cake. No need to wait. To ponder. One minute left to bid on E Bay creates an urgency and a need that a shopping centre can’t provide.
Before you know it you are sure you’re really ill. You wonder how many different ways you can write your symptoms in the search engine to get the answers to concur. You get an emergency appointment, to find your doctor disagrees. You decide she must be wrong, until you get better and you know, on that occasion she was right.
Before you know it you hate your child’s teacher because they failed to notice that your child was a little wet. All the other mothers on the internet agree: it’s outrageous! How could she not have noticed? (I mean, really: only 35 children in the class and a child who didn’t tell her). The seed has grown into a venomous plant. That seed of doubt about the teacher has turned into child abuse and neglect and everyone talking about it on the internet agrees. Horse shit on the roots that make the poisonous plant grow stronger and out of control.
Before you know it, your son’s seed of sexual fantasy is easily planted and is growing in to a monster that is never satiated and is uncontrolled. Unrealistic expectations create unrealistic relationship goals.
Before you know it you find yourself asking: why? Why? Why? Rhetorically.
Because we know what the internet is capable of; but once those seeds of thought take root, the genie has left the bottle and they grow.
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