It’s one of the singular features of our little social-technological moment that people all over the world whom we otherwise would never even be aware of can effortlessly impinge upon our minds and lives and desktops. We probably see fewer people in person these days, but our lives are populated by an entire chorus of disembodied presences, amplified and directed by the Internet, as if we had all begun to suffer from a mild form of schizophrenia.
Anyone who works with computers learns to fear their capacity to forget. Like so many things with computers, memory is strictly binary. There is either perfect recall or total oblivion, with nothing in between. It doesn’t matter how important or trivial the information is. The computer can forget anything in an instant. If it remembers, it remembers for keeps. This doesn’t map well onto human experience of memory, which is fuzzy. We don’t remember anything with perfect fidelity, but we’re also not at risk of waking up having forgotten our own name. Memories tend to fade with time, and we remember only the more salient events.
The Internet is a great place to try and fail. Because if you fail, nobody really sees it, nobody cares. No harm, no foul…. When you put [your work] out in installments, you see the feedback and you can shift course, things can happen that wouldn’t have happened if you were just doing it on your own…. Releasing stuff on the net, I don’t think it matters if it’s perfect…. it is a way to not go down a rabbit hole of perfectionism and it is a way to keep the thing coming out on a reasonable schedule.
These networks are sorted by what things are (a photo, video, snarky quip, etc.), rather than who made them. My brain works in the opposite way. It’s people first, so I don’t think “I would like to see photos,” I ask myself, “I wonder what Josh has been up to?” To find out, I have to visit each little silo and piece the story together.
1. Don’t wake up with the Internet. Have breakfast, walk the dog, read a book, whatever … do something before getting online. Think of it as a way of preparing – physically, mentally, emotional, morally, etc. – for all that follows.
4. Don’t take meals with the Internet. Log off, leave devices behind, and enjoy your meal as an opportunity recoup, physically and mentally. If you’re inside all day, take your lunch outside. Enjoy the company of others, or take the chance to sit in silence for a few minutes.
11. Don’t go to bed with the Internet.
This reminded me of David Karp: “We have a rule: no laptops in the bedroom.”
The only solution [to social media addiction] is not one that most people want to face, which is to become lovers of solitude and silence… I love to spend time alone in my room, and in my ideal world the first hour of every day would be in bed, writing down thoughts, harvesting dreams, before anyone phones or you have any internet access. I write on paper, cause if you write on a laptop, it’s too tempting to go online. You look up a word and then an hour later you remember why you went on…
I think a good rule overall would be: No internet in bed or at the kitchen table.
Michele Catalano writes about moving back to her blog hosted at her original domain, not because Yahoo bought Tumblr, but because she wants to get away from the likes/reblogs as validation trap:
For as long as I have wanted to be a writer – and that’s about 40 long years – there was never any part of that dream that included obsessively checking a page of statistics and judging my self worth by the numbers within. I always wrote for the sheer pleasure of it, from putting that first word down to finishing the final edit, writing has always been a labor of love. Recently, it had become just a labor.
So here I am back at my old domain, the one where I started writing publicly (ok, blogging) in 2001, the one where I started telling my stories to the world. I’m taking the majority of my writing away from tumblr, away from the hearts and reblogs, away from the instant validation. I don’t want to labor anymore. I want to love what I write. I want to love why I write.
There are no stats programs here. There is no like button. I will have no idea how many people will read each post. But I will write and I will learn to love to write again.
I was chatting with Michele on Twitter, and she said, “For the first couple of years I blogged I had no idea how many readers I had. And I was better off for it.” It reminded me of Greil Marcus, talking about the early days of Rolling Stone, when they said, “My God, people are actually paying attention to this. Let’s pretend they aren’t.”
So, once upon a time on The Internet a guy talked a little shit about a band he didn’t even really listen to, then a member of the band named Ed reached out to the guy, and then Ed and the guy became Twitter friends, and then when the band had a sold-out show in Austin, Ed gave the guy tickets to the show, and the guy and his friend went, and then when the guy had to drive three hours to Denton in the pouring rain, he listened to this album, and he really liked it, and he even played it for his 5-month-old son, who liked it too, and now he’s saying to you, have you heard this 4-year-old record? It’s really good.