I know your attention span is short, so I'll try to keep this brief. Hell, *my* attention span is just as short, so I may have no choice but to keep this brief. By the time I get to the end of this paragraph, I might have lost focus and moved onto other things, like looking at an article about Roger Ebert or reading my Twitter feed or seeing what's happening on Facebook or...
...nope, I'm still here. But it's seriously a wonder, because I've been feeling the SERIOUS crunch of information overload recently. In any given half-hour span, I'm probably connected to three social networks, my iTunes, whatever project I'm working on, a couple of articles I found on Google -- okay, I just seriously blanked out there. I'm not kidding. That's about how long I can focus without moving onto other things. That long. Long enough to compose one and a half paragraphs of this blog.
Which is why I haven't been blogging recently. I'm a member of at least one message board, check two others. I have a Twitter feed, I have a Facebook page with 600-plus people on it (I checked: all but TWO of whom I actually know). I have two emails I have to check on a regular basis, plus a phone that only rings anymore once in a blue moon, because everybody knows I won't answer it anyway. I have iTunes and an iPod that I use constantly to try to focus out the XM radio and the sound of the other people in my office talking and clicking and looking at THEIR Twitter feeds and Facebook pages and whatever else.
And that's AFTER peeling back, people. I don't have a cellphone anymore -- which sounds insane, because why wouldn't I have an iPhone?? It's an iPod and a phone and an internet browser ALL IN ONE and that means I could browse the net when I'm out walking or on my bike or WHATEVER! And I don't have cable television either, because I realized at some point that everything on television is either crap or something I can get in DVD box sets or on iTunes without commercials.
But that's still too much! But even if I eliminate, say, Twitter -- which I tried to do, but I couldn't even, because I was reminded that I have to market my band online and participate in the fifteen-hundred online conversations I'm part of every single day -- or Twitter AND Facebook -- which I'm not sure I *could* do, because now that I'm reconnected to every family member and school chum I've ever had, my absence would be like a slap in the face -- there's still a GIGANTIC BARRAGE OF DISTRACTING INFORMATION COMING AT ME.
Plus, it strikes me evermore that everything is completely transitory. There is no permanence anymore. Everything I do vanishes off into the ether. In my meatworld job as a Creative Director, I'm not designing physical stuff like book jackets or CD covers or whatever, I'm designing crap that sits in an imaginary fantasy world and the minute someone pulls the plug on it, everything vanishes into the ether. I write blog entries and Twitter posts -- and poof, there it goes off into an Info-Realm that no more exists than Wonderland. My music collection sits in a series of fingernail-sized microchips. My friendships exist as a series of bytes and blips and they're no less real than the meatworld one. Everything feels impermanent, plastic, digital, false.
The end result of this is that I spend MORE THAN HALF MY DAY tied to this damn computer taking in a CONSTANT STREAM OF UNENDING INFORMATION and my brain is fucking SICK OF IT. It is seriously rebelling. It is saying "shut this shit the fuck off NOW." But come on -- that's not possible, anymore, not if I wanna live and make money and be creative. I can't stand on the corner and hand out flyers for my band. I can't design with pens and paper. It doesn't work that way. I'm stuck here, and my brain is getting fuller and fuller and fuller and there's no end in sight.
I mean, even my little rebellious dike-plug efforts like tossing out my cell and getting rid of cable -- they can barely stem the flood. The flood is ever-coming. The flood is good. Embrace the flood. Without the flood, you would not exist.
And you know what ends up happening to me? What's happening to Millenials around the world, according to statistics -- a nostalgic yearning for simpler times. It's not so much that I wish it was 1979 anymore -- it's more that I wish it was 1979 in terms of the way my brain dealt with stuff. I wish I had a rotary-dial telephone and a record player with vinyl records and a library full of REAL BOOKS and an encyclopedia and four channels of TV that came via an antenna and my bike and the great outdoors and *that's it*. I mean, if I want information, I've got it -- it's called "a library." But it has one input PER TIME. My eyes, a book. My options are "pick it up" and "put it down." It's binary information collection -- "on" or "off," not "off" or "HOW MANY FUCKING CHANNELS DO YOU WANT AT ONE TIME YOU SEXY LITTLE MONKEY?"
It's not that I wish I was young again. I just wish there was less input. Does that make sense? Are you even still with me?
So the weird-ass thing I've been doing recently is listening to ELO. Why? What does that have to do with the price of tea in china? Well, a couple things. For one thing, it reminds me of "those days." Which for some reason I find very zen. It puts my brain back in 1979 mode and for a few seconds I can pretend it's not full of knowledge about who SNOOKI FUCKING SNICKERS IS. For another, the album covers -- that's the future I wanted, dammit. I wanted neon and bright colors and airbrushing, NOT the apple white-plastic-and-cathode-ray-tube-future we actually got. For yet another, I can pretend I'm listening to it on an 8-track and not on my super-impermanent iPod that risks getting wiped at any second.
So what the hell do we do? HOW DO WE RECLAIM OUR BRAINS FROM THIS BARRAGE OF BULLSHIT WITHOUT SHUTTING OFF THE INTERNET ENTIRELY LIKE NEO-LUDDITE IDIOTS?
I'm totally open to suggestions, here.