On the Internet
- A. Poltroon
Is 'Infinite Jest' in DFW's book analogous to today's online consumer culture? digital content so tailored to personal preference that one could never stop watching? But is the content curated to our tastes or do we conform our aesthethic to meet the closest bit of content to what we really want to see? In this sense, I'm wondering if the internet is a place of such interesting content that we have learned to love.
The internet is both a tool at our disposal to nourish a curious mind and a drug to quell the insatiably craving entertain-aholic. It is something that I actively try to avoid using because the effect it has on me is so unnatural that I feel perverted whenever I spend anytime 'browsing'. But the fake glowing allure of social connection is so strong that I feel, sometimes, that it is the only way I'll be heard. Like sending a message in a bottle from the isolatory island of my mind. In the past month I was starting to post my poems on a wordpress again because I felt I had writings that I thought strangers needed to read. I felt so strongly in this regard that I cast my net and posted my poems and then furiously looked for tags as bait so that stray fish (readers) might stumble upon my work and be ensnared by it. All in some vain attempt to see 'stats' and 'likes' that I hoped would validate my abilities to write and perhaps mean that my thoughts are 'deep'.
But what the fuck. I am confident in my ability to write and I need to create things for the sake of self-expression, not for other people to laud me. I already get intense mixed feelings when I am recognized in person for my thoughts or writings or art. In a sense, I am wondering the point to me writing this right now. What purpose is served when the compulsion to create feels more like propaganda the artist feeds herself that she should serve entertainment to her peers? I hoped that my poems were seen as thought-provoking and spoke to the human condition but when has thought-provoking work ever been popular without the testimony of influential voices hailing it as something that must be experienced? Beautiful works and thoughts are most of the time small, fragile flowers that are unnoticed and perhaps crushed with a single, ignorant footstep.
The internet and mass media are the greatest pacifier to the human experience we have known thus far, they are efficient in deliverying a shallow yet powerful sense of meaning to our lives. When the quest is to watch every episode or to read every article on particular subjects, the qualitative value of what that knowledge means is diminished immensely. What is the point of knowing anything when all the information you could possibly conceive of 'needing' to know is a simple 'google' away? Are we more human for knowing more? Does it matter that I'm well-read in a psychology wikipedia page's notes or that I am enlightened to all the injustices going on around the world? Does it matter that I have watched every episode of every season of a show and am so versed in its plot? Does it help for me to read every single fucking poem that I could find on wordpress and to like them and maybe think about it for a minute to write a maybe one or two sentence comment? Fuck no. It makes me jaded, it cheapens my emotions as though they were the most commonly traded commodity on the market. As though my joy, my pain were as frivilous as compared to the millions who happen to be going through the same thing at the same time.
When we increase the radius of our attention and our consciousness, we lose sight of the details. Ie Me continuing to post on my wordpress, continuing to read things about x, y, or z, continuing to watch series upon series of videos that has no other dimension than a riveting plot and emotional hooks; I can no longer appreciate any of it. Consuming the digital world is detracting me from focusing on my own work that seriously matters (to me) which derives from wild thought that can only be experienced offline. Online absent-mindedness is not the same as daydreaming or objectless thinking.
Although axioms do not seem to matter anymore (so I do not know why I am even typing out these personal thoughts), maybe you can think about your intentions with regards to how you spend your free time.
Or maybe there is something there in the digital world and I am just too apathetic but for now, I am sickened by it and need to rest.
A. Poltroon is a quiet and seemingly reserved man of strong conviction, but really he is just a sad and lonely human.