Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Which I Become the Editor in Chief of My Internet Use

Lately I've been craving a simpler life: in a typical week I'd go to work, spend time with friends enjoying conversation, music, go home at the end of a day and create or read or simply unwind – take life slow...

I was swimming in the ocean last week on a lovely summer day. I floated beyond the breakers where the call of electronics couldn't reach and like the slap of a wavelet to the side of my head it hit me: I do have this simple a life. So why do I feel so insistently edged in by preponderances of information constantly bombarding?

It's the internet!

As soon as I open the browser, and as fast as I can twitch my finger I can attach my attention to any sudden impulses that grab me. It's a contest/no-contest: my preconceived attention against the splashes and flashes vying to win me away from myself.

As I read the newspaper (on actual paper) this morning, it occurred to me to write a letter to the editor of the internet, “Dear Ed., My internet experience offers inconsistent content, too many snippets, and not enough focus!”

Newspapers are edited strategically by teams of professionals who have respect for story, history, social context, and a knack for fitting salient elements on the page (while leaving room for the ads). But left to my own devices, I'm all over the place! I need an *Editor in Chief!

I can’t just “**surf the web” anymore. I can't concern myself with every issue or take on every argument. I need to swim, dive, find treasures, come up for air and check my landmarks.

On the larger social level, the internet creates its own plea that we support education which includes emphasis on critical thinking skills. Case in point, those - and I hate to mention this odd phenomenon as I've been actively shunning it - but take the tea party people (please!). They react to snips and snatches of phrases (and spend lots of time making elaborate posters) but they lack understanding of history - as evidenced by their misunderstood eponymy.

A joy the internet brings is the gems I find without seeking and it's fun, but how can I use the richest information source humanity has known so far without getting waylaid? I don't need to know how many friends Ashton Kucher has or read the details of a study that says too much manure left in a pile will spontaneously combust! 1) I don't care; 2) it's so obvious! 2a) and fascinating! But I did like finding out Dan Piraro has a blog, to take some of the load off Ze Frank and my brother . (Don't even get me started on that blasted facebook).

Before opening the browser I must call an editorial meeting with myself and simply ask, "What is the purpose of this search?"

So I wrote my Letter to the Editor on a post-it and stuck it to my monitor so I can read it next time I go check my email.

Ah yes! Now I remember! That's why I went online tonight.

*For the sake of this piece I’m keeping the focus to the newspaper versus internet. Offer a publishing deal and I may do a book on the greater picture.

**2009: I read a Yahoo! news piece that said that expression is archaic already.

No comments: