Shakespeare had it easy. Writing an 800-word column while resisting the siren call of online gossip? That’s a literary triumph
Addicts talk about hitting “rock bottom” with their vice, and given that I am definitely addicted to the internet, I know exactly when I reached mine. It wasn’t the multiple times I Googled the 1990 Bacardi advert five minutes before a deadline, purely to relive that glorious moment from my youth when alcohol advertised itself by promising it would make you so drunk you would fancy your Aunt Beryl. Nor was it the times my children tried to get my attention but I was otherwise engaged in the deeply important task of seeing how many likes a photo of them got on Instagram. (I should call social services on myself but I’m looking something up on my phone, so I can’t actually use it to make a call. Sorry, kids!) No, it came three years ago in a hotel room in Los Angeles.
Now, I love Los Angeles, but instead of enjoying the palm trees and the hipsters on this trip, I spent it inside my hotel staring at my laptop. Someone back in Britain had taken deep offence at a throwaway line I’d written about – and I swear I’m not making this up – the salaries of footballers and, as is the way with such things, marshalled their online troops so that hundreds of people were screaming at me on Twitter. For two days, I tried to engage with these furious warriors, because having all these angry voices coming out of my computer made me feel like the most loathed person in the world and I was determined to fix this. On the third day, my boyfriend called and ordered me to go out, leave my phone behind and take a break. So I did. And as I sat on Santa Monica beach, I realised my relationship with the internet had to change.