Lately though the question of "what's the point" has raised its head in a new, more blog-threatening way. Being meaningless is fine, but what if "the Tubes" themselves don't have a point? More importantly: What if all this time spent on the "Internets" actually retards creativity, thinking, knowledge?
(insert sound of today's wind silently blowing through your humble blogster's brain)
Some friends and I had a conversation about this very topic last night, and it was one of those situations where a topic was brought up in a light-hearted provocative way and ended up leaving us all silent and wondering. How much "work" are we really doing here in blog/internet land? What is the quality of the "entertainment" we are receiving and how active is our brain in receiving it, whether information or entertainment? Just how passive is our mental interaction with this Internet thing? Just how addicted are we?
(reinsert sound of today's wind)
Ever since I got my first Compaq "portable" computer back in 1985 (before moving up to my Dad's IBM XT with, get this, 10 MEGABYTES of hard drive memory), I have tended to laugh at famous writers who continued to either compose by hand or on old Underwood typewriters. Even before Mosaic and all that it seemed quaint, but silly.
Now, 22 years into this computer thing, I wonder.
I've spent an embarrassingly large number of hours before the computer in recent years, but haven't really questioned it, feeling that the benefits outweigh the costs. Then I think about these "benefits", and wonder if it is really a "benefit" to follow current events via the 'Net and know the following:
- That I can get a close look at the snow causing today's road closure of I-70 by going to TundraCam.
- That Jimmy Fallon got married to someone he met on the set of "Fever Pitch"
- That Ron Paul is running for President
- That I can get a "Second Life" Class 5 Island on EBay for $1,450.
- That a local Fox affiliate in St. Louis devoted a newscast to the erroneous rumor that Albert Pujols was on the list of those accused of steroids/HGH use in the Mitchell Report.
I'm going to go offline for a few days and consider these questions. Or try like Hell to do so. It's a Resolution of sorts, and one that I can already see will be really hard to keep. For instance, all my music listening has been spent between Rhapsody and online radio for years now. Whenever I find myself listening to KUNM on the radio now I try to think back to a time in which I not only listened to KUNM but worked there DJing "Global Music". Can I really go back to that?
Of course the answer for just about every question is "moderation", but will moderation when it comes to the "Tubes" be enough?
I don't know, but I'm going to try to find out. I'm going some version of cold turkey for a week or so. No/as little/okay, maybe a tiny bit more than a little internet usage as possible. Time away from the laptop so overused that the silver paint has worn off around the space bar, and it's only 18 months old. Time doing something around the house...God knows what.
I think I'll start with that biography of Willem de Kooning I bought two months back and haven't touched. 600 pages of Abstract Expressionism. Scary, but maybe something like a crazy life and enigmatic painting is the way to kick this addiction. It also reminds me of a day back in 1994, I believe, in which at a computer lab at UNM I spent some time using Mosaic and going to the WebMuseum. I still remember looking at the Fauvists page there ( Matisse, etc.) and seeing these beautiful paintings of blazing color slowly load onto the 14 inch monitor.
My life hasn't been the same since.
Let's see what my life is like in a week or so, and whether I come crawling back to the Internet like some tweaking junkie back to Needle Park. Until then, enjoy the sunshine, wind, soil, reading chair, whatever is really out there.