Links, what are they? When you go to a web site, links are the little bits of information that when clicked on will take you to another website of similar context. The thing is, with these strange and mysterious human minds of ours that we know so little about, these links if navigated subconsciously can take one to places of information you normally would never travel to. You could start out in the light and end up in a black hole. Let me give you an example of a trail I recently traveled without really thinking.
The other day I decided to search for a web site about one of my all time favorite musicians, Arlo Guthrie. Arlo Guthrie is a folk musician, son of another famous musician Woody Guthrie. When I was a little kid, one of the coolest things to do was to listen to his story/song entitled ‘The Motorcycle Song’. So, I found his personal website through a Google search and it was pretty cool, and very positive. Guthrie runs a charity organization and a multi-religious church center where money is raised to help people with illnesses as well as giving less fortunate people a place to pray, meditate or just get off the streets.
So, I’m reading all about Arlo in his biography and there’s a link to his court statement at the famous Chicago Seven court case. Well, as I’m a young guy I had never heard of this case, my curiosity was piqued and I clicked on the link. Next I was reading Arlo’s funny comments about the time he was arrested for disposing of garbage in an illegal area on Thanksgiving because the dump was closed. Of course if you know about Guthrie you’d know that his famous song ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ was based on this story. I get to the finish of the court transcript and there’s a link for the ‘Famous Trials’ web site that the Chicago Seven trial was a page of.
Not thinking, I click on the site and start to absent-mindedly scan through all the famous court cases listed. Remember, I was originally looking up my old buddy Arlo, now I’m in a world of laws and crime. Well, I come across this crazy looking face: Charles Manson, and for some unknown unconscious reason I click on his court case. I didn’t know much about the guy, but maybe because both my parents are x-hippies and he was from their era…
Now I’m spending an hour of my time (and nothing is more valuable than time, except love and peace) reading about the gruesome murders of Manson’s Family as his group of devoted followers was called. I didn’t consider myself interested in this sort of evil stuff, and still don’t, as my feeling after the experience was one of distaste, sadness and plain wonder as to how people can do these sorts of negative actions.
In the end, following the absent-minded link trail led me to a place so much darker than where I started. I don’t know if I ever would have spent an hour of my life reading about Charles Manson otherwise. It’s not my cup of tea you know. I’m into peaceful music, humorous novels, Tai Chi and foreign films. This can be taken as a sign that we must be careful, conscious and alert when we are searching the Internet. It is such a huge mass of information, and like all things in existence has its dark side as well as its light. Be careful Dorothy, the yellow brick link trail can lead to the wicked witch as well as the wonderful world of Oz.