Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yes, I am starting a blog

I have an admission to make. I hate the internet.

Now I'm not trying to be a crotchety old malcontent who mutters on and on about how technology ruins culture. This is a blog. It is intended to be a place of undiluted self-importance. I don't hate the internet for what it does to society, or to other people, or to those kids today who text each other when they're sitting together on the bus. I hate the internet because of what it does to me.

I can't sit down and write. I can't have a conversation with someone without thinking about an email conversation I'm in the middle of. For Christ's sake, I can't even sit down and read a book anymore. To test this, yesterday, as I was reading one of the best books I've read in a long time (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, if you're curious), I counted the number of times I checked my email during a three hour reading session. The number: 14.

This is not because the book bored me. In fact, I was in love with the book. I couldn't put it down. But I also happened to be in the midst of some administrative, bureaucratic bullshit, the details of which I won't bore you with, and the internet forced me to think about what I wasn't enjoying obsessively while ignoring what I was enjoying right in front of me. It's the technological equivalent of being 13 and able to call that girl you like as many times as you want without scaring her away or pissing off her mom.

The problem, I think, is that the internet is changing my brain. A UCLA scientist named Gary Small says that brain activity shifts dramatically and quickly when non-Internet users start to use. I've been using it for a long time. And a guy named Nicholas Carr argued in an interview with The Sun that the internet may be turning us all into a distracted mass of humanity that lacks "depth of knowledge." (He also, for the record, says it is making us increasingly efficient at processing knowledge.) He may be overstating his case and overgeneralizing. I don't know. But for me, I can say unequivocally that he knows what the fuck he's talking about.

It is tempting to blame the internet for everything wrong with my life. And I really want to. I hate it. I want it out of my life. I wish I could give it a long, long noogie until it went away for awhile, like an annoying younger brother. I wish I could run into it in a dark alley and, as my girlfriend says, "stab it in the goiter." I wish I could steal its kidneys and sell them on the black market. I wish I could put it in one of those James Bond death machines where the internet is held above a shark tank while acid slowly eats away at the ropes that are keeping it balanced precariously above a snapping Great White.

But in the end, I have to admit to myself that the internet is a thing, not a living creature, and I have to treat it as such. Therefore, I must blame myself. The easiest solution would be to stop using the internet entirely. Unfortunately, I can't. A writer who does not use the internet is like a dictator who doesn't use violence. It just doesn't work.

So instead of obsessively checking my email, I'm going to obsessively write blog entries. I'm going to use all of this obsessiveness to my advantage, to practice doing what I love: writing. So that's what I'm going to do. Now hold me to it.

4 comments:

The Seagull said...

Good points and hopefully good solution. Agree that people thinking they have to constantly check on multiple inputs, not to mention video games, has interferred for many w being able to focus in depth on one issue at a time. Shrink training can help, but might not be for everyone.

The Seagull

Lightlight said...

Great first post. I think or rather, I KNOW the internet has significantly changed the way my brain works- for the worse. I have a terrible attention span, I'm constantly surfing it aimlessly and wondering how I arrived at say a wikipedia entry on the 'flan' when I started by looking at 'Musharraf'- you get the picture. I check email obsessively, stalk people I don't care about on facebook etc. Why this happens- I'm really not sure. What to do about it is even harder - I think the solution is some sort of self-discipline and awareness but of course, I'm sooo good at that...

Sigh...
Anyway...now I have another thing to read- I'm sure of considerably higher quality than some of my other virtual haunts. Welcome to blogging!

Garrett M said...

I heard that stuff about changing brains too. Terrifying. How many more great novels will be written? Let's hope Junot Diaz doesn't croak too soon.

Welcome to the sphere. Keep dropping the knowledge.

Garrett

Anonymous said...

It does change the brain dramatically. You can test it. Have someone stand with their right arm straight out in front of them (so that it's parallel to the ground) and their left arm relaxed at their side. Make sure the person is not within five feet of any electronic object, and take their cell phone and put it ten feet away. Then tell them you're going to press down gently but firmly on their right arm and that they should try to resist you. Then press down gently but firmly on their right arm, just below the wrist, and see if you can push their arm down. If the person is strong, you can't do it. Then do the same experiment, but now have the person hold their cell phone (or two cell phones, if they're a lot stronger than you) in their left hand. Their left hand is still relaxed and hanging at their left side, just now it holds the phones. 99 times out of a 100 the person's arm will go completely weak and you can push it down easily. You can do the same experiment with almost any toxin. Have the person put a dab of fluoridated toothpaste in their mouth, for example, and hold the tube of toothpaste in their left hand. Have the person put a piece of non-organic meat or cheese in their mouth, and hold the chicken leg or cheese-wheel or whatnot in their left hand. Or rub some drug-store makeup, Oil of Olay or Loreal or some shit, on their face, and have them hold the tube of foundation or moisturizer or whatever poison crap it is in their left hand. Or have them take a swig of bottled water from a plastic bottle (try Smart Water, Dasani, Perrier, San Pelligrino, those are winners) in their mouth, and keep it there and not swallow, and hold the bottle in their left hand. The right arm will go weak as jelly. You don't even have to tell them what the experiment is about, if you want to make it more objective. The human body is a complex and delicate thing. We have our own electrical systems. Those are now fucked. Try the cell phone experiment. You should drop the blog. Not that it's worse than others but I'm sure you can find better things to do with your time. Go to Earthcalm.com, and go to their "innovations" section, they have some brilliant free ways to protect yourself from wireless radiation. As for writing and reading, if you want to be a writer, get some Lugol's iodine and start taking it. Write by hand. Go to fluoridealert.org and then think about the water you drink.
for EMF protection: earthcalm stuff is really the best. It's strongest by about 5 times, or 10 depending on what you compare it to. It's expensive. The Aulterra neutralizer actually works, funnily enough, and that's cheap. Not as good as eathcalm, but it works. go to www.inspiredliving.com. If you put a three-pack of the stickers on your laptop you'll quiet it down. But why not avoid the laptop? God forbid you have the wireless on when you're trying to write, or your phone anywhere near you, when you write, when you sleep. If you can't concentrate now, and you're a kid, you're in trouble. I suggest fish oil, an RO with remin, and maybe a naturopath. All organic all the time, and nothing with the word 'paraben' in it. Unless you want breasts. & the lugol's with a tsp of Celtic-unrefined unheated-seasalt a day.
p.s. i thought that book was boring.