A while ago I was given a copy of The Shallows, which, of course, not even a little ironically, I failed to finish.
The point of the book, gleaned via skimming it in between tweets and likes and probably reading at least one other fiction novel, is a deep analysis of the long term affects social media (aka “the Internet”) is having on our brains. As you might surmise, basically, the hyperactive monkey mind has been allowed to flourish and override our ability to think critically about anything.
This is something I’ve been thinking about a LOT over the last couple months, because I know it’s something that’s had a huge impact on me. To quote Douglas Coupland: I Miss My Pre Internet Brain.
I’m sure there’s other things, mostly laziness, and the inevitable fading of youth’s idealism, that are culpable here. But still I am going blame rapid, careless consumption of never-ending digital noise, with it’s clickbait headlines and shallow, yet instant, social gratification, for slowly diminishing my ability to sit quietly and read something with intension. I no longer have the ability, or interest, in participating in social discourse, because why bother when the comment section is just a mess of unaccountable, idiotic misogyny? Also the jaded awareness that most online “journalism” is nothing more than pay per click ad revenue masquerading as infotainment means I might as well just click click click click over to the next article because there’s no point. Click click click.
The shitty thing is the end result is feeling super jaded and completely disconnected and MEH about pretty much everything. Anyway, I know I don’t need to bitch on about this because it’s really all my own damn fault, but my point is that right now I’m trying to figure out: how do I fix this? How do I repave, redirect and repair all these damaged neural potholes in my brain? How do I get SMRT again?
One thing that is sort of working, is changing media consumption habits to more active and less passive; i.e., don’t just read the drivel that pops up on social media feeds, but proactively go out and find publications that write about things I find interesting, and read those instead. One thing that is still hard, is actually finishing anything; all I do is skim skim skim, like a pool boy. Maybe I need to start making myself write a one paragraph response to everything I read, with the hope I might actually start to retain things again. Mandatory mini book reports: there’s a way to limit the amount of noise you consume!
The story I’m writing is also a massive exercise in fixing my post Internet brain. I can slowly see sparks starting to fire in there, which is encouraging. I also just deactivated Facebook again, because, it might be the root of all this evil. /me habitually goes and tries to check it for the umpteenth time today.
Last, I’m going to try and write more here, even though I really just want to delete most of the crap I write because I fear being compared to the million other stupid bloggers that are probably saying the same junk as I am. But what’s important, really, is that I actually sit still and fully develop a thought, and finish it. So that’s what I’m trying to do.