I spend a lot of time smurfing the net, sometimes too much time and in the past it has become a bit of a problem, not just for me, but for those close enough to call me ‘friend’.

I’ve been around the block enough times to recognise that at times i am surfing just a little bit too close to what some psychotherapists might term ‘addiction’, and if i wanted to choose to believe them, then i would probably think they were right?

But i’m still here and i think it’s getting easier now to pull back a bit because the web is just getting too damn big for me to be in ‘control’ of (when i say control, i mean the simple act of believing i know what is going on, who said what & when they said it, what content is brand new, what’s hot, what’s not, basically pretty much anything that gives me the impression that i am ‘plugged-in’).

Whenever i watch Neo decide what pill he’s gonna swallow i get a painful reminder that it felt a bit like that for me when i knew that the planet needed to make more sense to me and the only way of reaching a zen-like state of knowing was to swallow the red pill and plug myself into something that was going to change my life forever, because life didn’t seem right without it – but that seems like a long time ago and just like Matrix Revolutions, i seem to have lost the plot a bit along the way.

It wasn’t always like that back in the early days either, i can still remember when the internet was just a new toy to play with when i had nothing else better to do and Kontraband was just an idea that came to visit me in my dreams. There were a LOT fewer places to smurf and hang out as well back then. My daily (?) road trip would usually be something like Hotbot.com, Chatropolis (god i miss the dungeon rooms) and looking at anything new that i had read about off-line. Streaming videos and cool game-play were still a long way off in the future as 14k’s worth of internet connection didn’t get you very much in return and email was pretty useless as none of my friends even had internet, so it was easy, life seemed pretty simple and the future looked rosy.

Then along came ISDN and T1 connections and thats about when i decided to take the red pill. Suddenly out of nowhere everyone was talking about ‘The Internet’, media, TV, newspapers and most of all, my friends, and the number of new sites appearing daily must have resembled prospectors turning up in Alaska during the Klondike gold rush in the 1890’s.

I can still remember stumbling on Ebaumsworld for the first time and it making me believe that the stupid idea for an entertainment website called Kontraband might not be so silly after all (but thats another story i will tell in time). During those years it was fun to be riding the crest of a new technology wave, you kinda knew what was gonna happen before it did and i was not alone. A lot of early adopters got stupid-rich during those times and the Kontraband business genre that i was heading into fast was getting very exciting, as long as you were young (you were old if you weren’t still in your teens). And i think thats what it was about those times that made me so pumped up with internet steroids, it was a young person’s world and grown up’s just didn’t get it (but that would all change later), so those of us lucky enough to be allowed into this new digital playground were kings of the new wild internet frontier – it was fun!

I still remember the sites i used to visit, like a good Catholic going to mass every day, and although time has passed i still pop my head in from time to time to say hello, but that feels like the golden times to me, i knew what was cool, i was there, i knew everyone…And then it all changed.

Suddenly there were 10 new sites a day instead of just 1 and the next month there would be 20 new sites a day – i just couldn’t keep up and part of me wanted to. I knew this new world and i knew who lived here and now there were more people turning up every day than i could keep track of and to ‘try’ and stay ahead of what was going on would mean making my life unmanageable because i would have to be on the internet 24/7 and that still would not be enough. I can remember getting angry that MY playground was getting too overcrowded and frustrated that it couldn’t go back to how it was – i guess i needed to go through that purile pain to come out the other side and just let go.

If you have been in certain institutions you learn that you are powerless over something like this and you are taught to follow a 12 step program to help you let go and pass it onto a higher power so you can get back to leading a normal life – i kinda get where they are coming from from that point of view if i apply it to certain parts of my internet career and i know that i have finally reached step 12 and am learning to ‘give it back’.

The internet is like that (at least for me), it doesn’t actually exist, but it can wield such a strong hold over you, if you let it, that it pays to check every now and again if you have slept in the last 24 hours, or that you are supposed to have a job somewhere, or school, that you are meant to attend. I’m one of the lucky (?) ones though – people actually pay me money to indulge in my adiction, it’s a pleasure & pain experience that i feel i have finally learnt to control.

My only advice to anyone who might connect with the garbage that has just spilled out of my head is that ‘The internet is as big as you want it to be’ – Remember that and you will always be in control.

I only take the blue pill nowadays and am learning to have fun again!