Admittedly, my last several posts have been somewhat gloomy. In "The End of Solitude/The Dawn of Isolation" I talk about how the Internet is my only island of social connection; in "My Health is Not the Same" I talk about a subtle weariness, a lingering fatigue, which has recently come over me . . .
I think I know what the problem is, and it should come as no surprise: I'm spending too much time in front of the computer.
No guru can tell me what I know in my heart. I am watching myself throughout the day, sometimes more, sometimes less. But I see what's going on here . . . I'm no fool to my behaviors . . .
Let us turn to Michel de Montaigne, who writes:
In comparison with most men, few things touch me, or to put it better, hold me; for it is right that things should touch us, provided they do not possess us.
I have allowed the Internet to possess me.
My temperament is such that I grow hypnotized by the object of my attention. While I have never played video games compulsively, I can see how the Internet has a similar effect on a person.
On a given day, I will bounce from one social media network to another, I'll update my Twitter accounts, read emails, chat on Twitter, read daily feeds, retweet interesting links, and surf more webpages . . . . this becomes my video game.
Consider that even in actions which are vain and frivolous, in chess, tennis, and the like, this fierce and ardent involvement of an impetuous desire instantly casts the mind and limbs into thoughtlessness and disorder: we daze and hamper ourselves.
Sucked into the social web, I can't remove myself for the next three to four hours. My body aches, my mind grows tired, my eyes hurt. I forget to eat . . .
I also put off my real work. Which requires me to then come back to the computer later. But the first thing I do when I come back to the computer is go on Twitter; and the vicious cycle begins again. I'm on the computer all day and all night.
I must learn to touch the Internet and its lavish, electrifying superabundance while not becoming possessed by it. This is my goal.
To know the order of precedence is the beginning of wisdom. (Confucius)
There is an economy of the self. Each of us must learn that economy, or we may find ourselves in a deficit of time and attention.
Attention is becoming a scare commodity in today's world. Every major company, media source, bank and institution wants your attention and is willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get it.
The Internet is a dangerous black hole of attention. You can get lost and never return to your normal self. I gave up reading classical literature for two years.
What I'm learning to do is discriminate between online and offline activities, devoting a certain amount of time to both. My favorite offline activities include reading books and drawing. I started the EIL Moleskine Project without ever imagining that it would become an antidote to my social media addiction.
All is not lost. I can reclaim the part of myself that is not connected to the online world. I just need to realize how easily I fall down the social media rabbit hole, and how quickly the Internet possesses me. Without a conscious economy of the self, I am destined to compromise my life as an artist and an intellectual.
ARTWORK BY RYUKO AZUMA
Found via CGUnit