The Internet (capitalized, as if it were a Deity).

Here’s the thing.

I loves me some Internet. I really, really do. All of our technological bells and whistles are, bottom line, tools, and tools are only as good or as bad as the people using them, and with judicious use, the Internet is one hell of a tool.

I mean honestly! What other tool allows me to order groceries, clothes and books delivered to my house, look up (and look at) the works of Frieda Kahlo and WH Auden, organize in support of freedom in Egypt/Wisconsin/Palestine, and become genuine friends with people I may never get to meet?

A hammer? Yeah, no, a hammer can’t do that. Neither can a dishwasher or a telephone or a whisk.

But here’s the thing that the Internet also does, that hammers, dishwashers, telephones and/or whisks don’t: It works both ways.

When I order Fuji apples, something somewhere gathers that information, and attaches it very, very specifically to me. When I send a Tweet, or buy a book, or click on a picture — that information is squirreled away and put to use.

This, I don’t like so much.

As an Israeli, I long ago made my peace with the fact that people listen to my phone conversations. There are certain things I will never say over the phone, and by extension, certain information that I will never put in an email, Tweet, blog post, or blog comment. It just seems smarter.

But that is somehow less horrible to me than the fact that when I am online, everything — literally everything — that I do simultaneously serves someone else’s goals. I refuse to join Facebook in part because I can’t stand how blatant Zuckerberg is in his gathering of other people’s facts — but the truth is that nobody needs FB to know everything that I might reveal on FB. Because it’s all out there already, being bought and sold, used to further ideas and careers and plans that I have no say in or may, in fact, oppose.

When I use a hammer, the hammer gets nothing out of it. The person who made the hammer has already been paid, as has the person who sold me the hammer. Once it’s purchased, they don’t really care if it’s never picked up again. And, as I say, the hammer has no opinion one way or the other.

Not so the Internet — capitalized, as if it were a Deity.

But there it is. As an avid, daily user of the Internet’s great bounty, there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it (other than occasionally leave false trails — which I do, from time to time, but I’m not so foolish as to believe that my false trails make much of a dent).

I’m not going to go off the grid, or worry too much about the fact that even good encryption is occasionally breached (hello, Gawker!). If I don’t want the world to know that I’m curious about Charlie Sheen and Demi Lovato — or, more to the point: If I want to live in a world where the lives and struggles of complete strangers are not so monetized as to be twisted almost beyond recognition — I won’t click on their pictures. And when I do, I will do so in the knowledge that on that day, I’m part of the problem.

But I will say this: I’ve noticed an odd peace that sometimes comes over me when I’m doing something that can in no way be traced. When I shop at a resale shop, or play a board game, or read a dead-tree magazine. When you read a magazine, no one knows.

Dear Internet: I like that.

PS If you want to read some much more erudite and better-written (not to mention researched) musings on the Internet, read Adam Gopnick’s “How the Internet Gets Inside Us” in The New Yorker. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. (Personally, I printed the piece out to read it, but I presume someone, somewhere already knows that).

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.