Saturday, November 14, 2015

Update

You may have noticed how my attitude has changed toward the Internet over the course of writing this blog. For a number of reasons I am reverting back to the way I used it ten years ago. I was a late adopter of computers and didn't buy one until the Internet had become an important tool for shopping, banking and investing, which justified my purchase at the time. I gradually became diverted into using it for broader reading and discussion, and am now finding it to be more problematic in these areas. Life in cyberspace is conducive to information overload, a short attention span, bad manners and, especially in my case, cognitive dissonance. The sense I get is that it contains chaotic, uncontrolled elements that undermine some of the benefits that its users imagine they are receiving. I find it jarring to enter an environment which at first seems coherent and rational only to discover that my initial perceptions were illusory and that I have inadvertently walked into an unexplained free-for-all in which discontinuities surround you. I occasionally end up feeling as if I have been attracted by a display window outside a department store and, upon entry, I discover an empty warehouse with a few lunatics wandering around. The ideas behind a given website may or may not match its outward appearance, and in the latter case you may be in for a series of rude awakenings. Websites loosely designed for literary and cultural content tend to be less reliable than ones designed specifically for the sale of products or services.

There is a tendency among many Internet users to become obsessed with the next new thing. This behavior is encouraged by companies like Twitter, which create the illusion of real-time news as events unfold. In a similar vein, there are more serious-seeming sites that have a tendency to pretend that they are offering content that is more in-the-know, that they are the sanctum sanctorum of the cognoscenti. In either case a web surfer may become buffeted around by waves of Internet nonsense and come out none the wiser in the end. Psychologically I feel myself pulled into this a little, and I'd rather not be, because on the whole it is a waste of time.

Not that I have ever tried to be "with it," I will henceforth retreat somewhat from the Internet resources that are available and if possible focus more on books. This will affect the blog, because it will take longer to absorb material and comment on it, resulting in a lower frequency of posts. I will continue to write about my favorite topics such as capitalism, Darwinism and AI, but will make an effort to do so only when I have something new to say. As always, I am open to suggestions for new topics and will write about them if I feel competent and am interested myself.

2 comments:

  1. I feel similar I'll explain. In a moment of weakness I must have subscribed to a blog that comes approx weekly called Zen Habits. It's a slightly more cerebral 'self help' column and discusses, being in the moment, procrastination avoidance etc. I noted it kept using the example of being addicted to the internet, your phone and such and I always thought thank heavens that isn't me. Then it occurred to me that no I'm not a gamer and don't bother w Facebook and stare at my phone endlessly like my daughters, my use seemed more hi brow e.g. 3 Q daily and financial blogs, news outlets but now I see it is still a whole lot of useless time-consuming info. that I am addicted to. I just finished reading The Untouchable, John Banville and was so delighted with his writing I realized I have to get back to books and ease up on the internet. Not your blog of course. One memorable quote from the book, ' the imagination has no sense of the inappropriate'. Thanks for your post as it situated my feelings/findings more clearly.

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    1. For younger people the gadgets and social media have already been integrated into their lives, so they may not be fully aware that there are other ways to live. From my point of view they are leading low-quality existences, and from their point of view I'm an old fogy. There is no point in arguing with them.

      I'm trying to cut back on the Internet as much as possible and probably won't even read 3QD, though I still think it's pretty good. My life is already peaceful, and less Internet would help keep it that way. Glad you're on a similar wavelength.

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