Monday, June 14, 2010

The Voice of the Web: Real Loud and Real Obnoxious

Everything feels the same.

Is it just me or is this true?

The problem is the Internet, the Web, this mechanical interface with everything. And it has bled over into things in the real world, like with the way I relate to people.

Or perhaps it began happening with the advent of television. The first real mechanical separation of humans with the reality of interpersonal relationships.

I'm tired of clever. I'm tired of witty retorts, sarcasm, the brutality of cold humor, the detachment of knowing causes have effects. What I mean by that—the detachment of cause and effect—is the understanding that if I do or say A, B will happen. Like, for a totally generic example, if at home with my parents, I say some witty, clever, sarcastic remark such as, "Well, if you hadn't gotten pregnant at 17, perhaps you'd have a Corvette by now," there will be specific ramifications*. It won't be a funny sitcom. There won't be a laugh track where the audience responds by chuckling in unison and I am heralded as a comedienne extraodinaire. In fact, people in my immediate life will begin to see me as an ass.

This is perhaps a poor example, because the problem is much more advanced. Occasionally when I'm around certain people, I get the feeling everything is about the big joke. The perfect timing. The script in their head where everything happening is the set up for the punch-line. It could be that I've somehow, miraculously gotten MORE sensitive as I've advanced in age, though that seems unlikely. The longer I'm alive, the more rooted I feel to this world. (At first I mistakenly wrote out rotted. Freudian slip?) And the less things surprise me.

So it surprises me when I grow weary of the brutal nature of the Web. Who's with me? I'd really appreciate an acknowledgement here if anyone, ANYONE AT ALL, senses what I sense.

It isn't as though I spend an unholy amount of time surfing the Web. I do a lot of research. Read a lot of Wikipedia articles, articles, reviews, and just recently, have subscribed to a few sites through Google Reader. The sites are rather generic tech/gadget reviews, science fiction and fantasy commentaries, and for the most part, I find them interesting.

But there is a tone to all that's out there. I'm having a difficult time pinpointing what it is. I could be full of crap, but I could just as well be identifying a cultural malaise. Some might describe it as an advancement—I can see that. Finally! they would say, we've arrived at the future. We're here, all is open, all is possible, we're speeding toward this singularity where we'll become infinite and immortal through science.

Maybe the Miscrosoft Bing commercials aren't that off. From time to time I feel like my mind is fractured and I'm trying to sort through the hundreds of strands of thought, attempting to make sense of them, to grasp something solid. I don't think it's to be found in my head—everything is abstract there.

What I need is to step away from the mechanical, electronic interfaces with the world and engage in something real. I need to work in the garden. Take a walk by the river. Go for a hike. The Web, or Internet, whatever the crap it's called, becomes a voice in the head that won't be silenced, that influences behavior and perhaps in a negative way.  

I tire of its plethora of voices—voices that don't always help me see reason or sort through the mess of the human condition. All things tend to converge, and I don't necessarily see them converging into a whole that I can treasure the way I treasure a favorite book (Jane Eyre, Angle of Repose, We). It usually happens that we veer toward the most common denominator, and I don't have much faith that this number will be the one I want.  

*There would be no REAL reason to say this, as it isn't true in my family. But I could see this kind of thing happening in a sitcom, can't you?

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