Walking the Internet

Walking is the opposite of the the internet. That's my hypothesis.

I came up with it just now on the toilet. I was thinking about Nietzsche's assertion that you should never think whilst sitting down. Although I can certainly recommend reading Nietzsche whilst shitting. Or Schopenhauer. Both very evacuatory philosophers in my opinion.

And I was thinking about how many times I've said it whilst walking, 'Oh you know Neitzsche said you should never think whilst sitting down', and how I've never bothered to look up the exact quote because:

1. I don't think you need the exact quote - you get the general idea right? Like, sitting down is the enemy of thought. Done.
2. When I'm walking I don't have the internet.

And then I thought how walking is the one time (unless you are really determined) that you can't use the internet. Physically, it is hard to use the internet whilst walking. Even with a good phone and a decent connection, navigating the controls and looking at the tiny screen make it almost impossible. I'm not talking about Google Maps or whatever. Though even then you sort of have to stop walking for a second to look at it.

(Incidentally, I can't read a book whilst walking, or at least I've never really tried. I think it makes you look mad, although apparently it is fashionable in certain Oxbridge colleges.)

And now I'm here, sitting down and thinking and writing and quoting. On the internet. The opposite of what Nietzsche said. But I'm not going to look up the quote. If I look up the quote, I'll probably have misquoted him and then the semantics of the sentence will change and then it won't mean what I want it to mean. And then what's the point of the quote? Why bother quoting something correctly when it doesn't say what you want it to say?


I was speaking to someone the other day who said that the internet was like a really bright torch that could shine on anything, all these archived, perfectly preserved things. Like turning on a fluorescent light in a storage container full of things you wish you'd thrown away.. Whereas each time you walk somewhere, certain things come to light - are returned to you - and certain things remain hidden.


On the internet you can find yourself in quite strange places, but you can explore them without fear. Walking those places is a different thing entirely. It is the difference between clicking around the EDL's online forum (10,669 active members who don't know you're there), and walking into a BNP pub in Walthamstow and ordering a pint (six men staring at you).


Maybe I'm trying to propose a synthetic relationship between the things I do in real space, and the things I do online. I think this dialectical, so bear with me. Because for me they are both essential, and I wouldn't be so interested in walking a space, if I didn't already know about that space through online exploration. And though they are possibly opposing methods of movement/thought, they do not negate each other - in fact their contradictory elements (online as Cartesian or mental exploration and walking as empirical or bodily exploration. Unlimited, instant access to information online and physically limited, incomplete access to information whilst walking) are what make the combination of walking and online research so powerful.

And if you'll excuse me, some weird atonal orchestral music is playing from the school behind my flat, so I'm going to google it to find out what's going on and then go down there and have a look.