Goodbye Internet

the-end-03It’s 8am and I wake up (there are some benefits to living so close to work). The first thing I do is try desperately to turn my phone alarm off. Swipe to turn off? Sounds easy enough until the last millimetre and then it seems not to register my finger. I’m sure this is an Android conspiracy to further frustrate me of a morning but that’s another story. Now vaguely alive and with my phone in my hand, I go immediately to the news – did any celebrities die in my sleep? Is Z-Day here? What has UKIP done now? I spend about 15 minutes trawling through two different news apps, then reddit, then twitter. By the time I fall out of bed, I know what’s going on in the world, and I just want to crawl back up into bed and hide for about a century.

Now I don’t want to be a pessimist, but being British comes with a certain level of cynicism that we feel is our civic duty to impart to the world. No, it can’t all be good news all the time. Yes, people are going to die, natural disasters are going to happen, taxes will be raised, people imprisoned, but lately it’s all been washing over me like a continuous version of that one wave at the beach that knocks you down when you’re a little kid. Every day as I wake up, I hold my own head down under the depressing waters of how utterly abominable humanity is being this morning, and only surface when a cute cat picture floats my way.

It’s not as if I’m suddenly realising that the ratio of bad news to good is less 50:50 and more like 99:1, it’s that over the past few months it seems as if we, as a race, have been increasingly lousy. No matter what issue it is, we seem to have reached some sort of ditch and have chosen to lie there for a little while and be gross. Politics, infrastructure, the environment, the internet, celebrities, foreign policy, wars, general death and disease have reached peak crumminess and I think I just need a break.

I think I used to be able to sniff out the happier stories each day to temper the oppressive dark cloud, but perhaps I’m just a bit out of practice. I like being positive and staying away from negativity as much as I can. I simply have better things to do than pour scorn on someone else’s likes and dislikes, revel in drone strikes, or to read the comments section of a website. I like being buoyed along by the thought that we’re improving as a race, and we are. When I think of the advances in science and medicine, the overall trend towards being nicer people, and (how could I forget) the fact that there are new Star Wars films coming out, I get so incredibly happy that everything seems to be great. It seems that people just want to hear about all the garbage going on instead of the great things. And so, when we’re told every day that we’re all doomed we just sort of go with it, and choose to believe that things truly are shit. They’re not – it just sells more newspapers.

But perhaps I just need a little break. A hiatus from the media deluge of depressive depravity. And I know that the title of this post is Goodbye Internet, but I’m not quitting the internet altogether. I mean, how on earth would I survive? Netflix is here! But for just one month, I’m quitting news. I’m leaving all sites that pepper me with pessimism, and I’m going to sit here, eat pizza, watch Netflix, and count down the days till Star Wars (as of today there are 407). Feel free to join me. For those of you who don’t join, feel free to spend these next 30 days tidying everything up on the planet so it’s good for when I get back.

Vatican’s Got Talent

So apparently we’re getting a new Pope. Not that the current one died or anything, he just thinks he’s getting a little too mentally frail to be up to the task. The task of… sitting in a chair and pretending to be infallible. This is obviously a poor excuse, after all frailty or madness hardly stopped any of the other Popes from trying to brainwash the world with their particular brand of crazy, and even the last Pope to resign only did so because of scandal. Pity there wasn’t a handy storehouse of scandals that poor doddery old “Benedict” could latch onto as an excuse, imagine if he could claim that he used to be in the Hitler youth, or that he covered up multiple accounts of child abuse, or that he was just faking it all or something. Now that would be headline news. But no, he’s had enough so he’s packing it in to write a book or something. About time too, I could do with a new doorstop after I used George Bush’s autobiography to make paper mache Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Strangely, what some news outlets are focussing on at this time is the fact that the St Peter’s Basilica was struck by lightning only hours after the Pope’s announcement that he was resigning. I find myself very confused as to why on earth this is considered news. Well, to be honest, I find it difficult enough to comprehend why a textually unnecessary head of a sensationally misguided wing of a religion I no longer subscribe to stepping down is news either, but I understand that some people might find it mildly interesting seeing as Big Brother is over and Game Of Thrones isn’t back until the end of March. But why is lightning striking the Vatican newsworthy? Last time I looked, Catholics worshipped some form of Yahweh, not an amalgamation of Zeus and Thor. My Bible knowledge is struggling to find an example of God chucking a lightning bolt to get his point across.

And anyway, isn’t lightning from a deity supposed to be a bad thing? Like, a big “Hey you, stop dicking about or the next one will hit your head” kind of thing? Are we saying that God is displeased with the Pope’s resignation? Did he want him to die while still on the job? “Aw shucks, he’s not supposed to retire until the aneurysm I gave him pops in his head” Or is God so monumentally thrilled with Joseph Ratzinger’s time in office that this is a divine version of shouting “Encore!” at the end of a play?

Interestingly enough, lightening is a totally idiotic weapon for a god to use, at least in this day and age. One would have thought than an omniscient being would have foreseen the invention of the lightning conductor. “What is this devilry? They seem to be defying me with some sort of metal rod!” Aaaand this brings us round to the part where science takes over and says that a) if God really did have something to say in the form of a lightning bolt regarding the Pope’s resignation, he was quite a few hours too late – perhaps he was on the wrong time zone? and 2) It is no strange miracle of nature that lightning strikes a humongous metal rod sticking up high into the sky in the middle of a storm. It is no more surprising that it struck more than once because it is a myth that lightning strikes the same place only once.
Science, bitches.

Yet now we come to the hit reality TV show “Vatican’s Next Top Pope” or “Vatican’s Got Talent”. Let’s hope that the next Holy Father manages not to fall into the trap of praying for Africa’s “poor, sick and needy” while telling them not to wear condoms to stop AIDS, waving a solid gold incense burner about, gripping a six foot tall gold cross, and sitting on a golden throne while heading an international organisation estimated to be worth trillions of pounds.