Yesterday, I spent the day without the internet – entirely – for the first time in a very long time. I’m in the midst of a post-Edinburgh fest Scotland tour, and I figured I need this time apart from my arguably severe addiction. And this morning I felt so fresh and cleansed from nearly 36 hours offline.
But then, on the cover of a newspaper no less (with headline “Jacko Dead” from the Scotland Sun, no less), I learned that I had missed the development of arguably one of the biggest pop cultural news stories of the past decade: Michael Jackson was dead. To learn this at a gas station on a rather desolate island in Northern Scotland brings a very bizarre sensation with it. I immediately felt like some sort of jonzing addict, suffering from pop culture and internet withdrawal. I mean, the most bizarre, troubled, mysterious pop cultural figure of my lifetime had DIED. I wanted to be talking about this with people. I wanted to be scouring websites and blogs for the latest developments. I wanted to be scrolling down the endless list of “RIP MJ” Facebook status updates. I wanted to endlessly watch Larry King in a loop. But instead, I had to be stuck driving through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world… Poor me.
Anyway, so now I’m getting a fix of internet at some cafe at the foot of Scotland’s tallest mountain. My facebook status is updated. I checked the latest updates (and learned Farrah Fawcett died too, jesus…). I even chatted with locals that I overheard gabbing about the news. I feel like I’ve partially participated in the cyber/social aftermath of this tragic event. But I also feel totally affected by the digital age, and that the internet gods are punishing me (especially considering yesterday’s Oscar news, which I was five hours late for) for trying to enjoy a few days of life without it.
On a related and less self-involved note, my heart goes out to my lifelong friend Jen, who was obsessed with MJ when we were kids.. and who magically fronted an otherwise lackluster Michael Jackson lip-syncing group called “The Funky Five” that I was a member of from 1993 to 1994. Stay strong, Jen.