Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Haven't I Done This Before? Oh Well..

My brother has run afoul of an internet troll. It happens. There are plenty of people who like to start cyber fights. They get off on the idea that they are upsetting people as much as they get off on the anonymity of the net. I wonder what they’d be like in person? Probably disappointing; probably they’d be some little bugger with nothing much to say and a lot less to back it up.

I remember when a friend first introduced me to the internet. I was pretty green to all things online in the 90’s, mainly as I was, I admit, afraid of words like “virtual” and “cyber” not to mention too drunk and/or pissed off to really care. The world was embracing technology and I thought it’d be more fun to be a luddite. I was young once…

Anyway, I have always had a love/hate relationship with technology. I like the convenience of it and it has certainly made being a student a lot easier, but I am simultaneously repelled by the ever changing, ever advancing world that replaces the old so quickly I could never possibly keep up. What does one do with their old Playstation when the next comes along? How do you reconcile buying a new cell phone or replacing your computer because your current model, barely three years old, is suddenly intolerably too bulky?

Forget repelled, I should say I am distrustful of this type of rampant technological improvement, which leads, of course, to rampant consumerism. When I see someone on the train with two or more gadgets on their hip, I wonder who the fuck they are and what is so important that they have to be that accessible. To me, it’s a sucker’s deal. Just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s worth having. I can’t understand why I would need an Ipod. And if I had one, why would I replace it with another if mine was working perfectly? Technology is not meant to be so precarious. If replacements (or “upgrades,” as that has a more positive connotation) are that necessary, something is wrong. If I buy something, the fucking thing better last and if a new model comes along before the old one is busted, it would have to wake me up with a cup of mocha java, play all of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos on the harpsichord and massage my feet before I shell out any hard earned cash.

In the ongoing debate over the value of new gadgetry, I find a lot of examples against, mostly in the form of people who are unable to ride on a bus without gabbing into a cell phone. It appears that a symptom of our lightning fast tech era is that people have become so dependent on cellular communication and flashing lights that they can’t simply shut the fuck up and put down the handheld devices. The idea of not being tethered to the cell phone is unthinkable. A few of my friends couldn’t get through their days without sending 50 text messages. I get scores of “funny” email forwards from friends and family, most of which get quickly deleted. I suppose I could use a laugh as much as the next person, but when it comes in the form of online toilet humor I usually just sigh. All of these little annoyances—and really none of this is all that bad—is just one aspect of the increasingly technological world, and, all things considered, the improvements seem to outweigh the annoyances. Still, when I’m on the bus and that loud, obnoxious prick is sharing his weekend plans with everyone within earshot (and many outside of it), I tend to forget how far we’ve come and focus only on how low we can sink.

Now all that being said, I’m as bad as anyone else. I feel robbed when the computer breaks down or when I forget my cell phone, as if I have been denied access to a party where all the smart, funny, attractive people hang out. And then when I get in, I remember there are mostly a lot of not-so-smart, dull, ugly people hanging onto the walls, sipping watered down drinks and chatting about Boston Legal or House or something equally tiresome. But there are also a lot of interesting encounters there as well. I just have to dig through the tares to find the wheat.

The internet has allowed me to read a lot of critical essays on authors and subjects I enjoy, download music and get advanced notice of concerts, book releases and movies I might not have known of otherwise. So yeah, it can be helpful in my everyday pursuit of entertainment and stimulation, just as it can also speed things up at the office. Then again, as I have often said, if Sisyphus had these sorts of technological advancements, he’d have to push that boulder uphill twice a day. Things are faster, but not a whole lot better. We’re connected to each other and can communicate via email at the speed of light, just as quickly as we could if we were face to face having a conversation the old fashioned way. The hermit in me loves the internet but that childlike part—the one who has five senses and wants them appeased—wants to hear a voice not the clacking of a keyboard, wants to see a face in the flesh and not the digital rendering of it, and is freaked out because computers have no smell. Technology can sometimes be sensory deprivation.

I originally got a blog because my father had one and I suddenly felt left-behind in the dust of the cyber age. And it was all my fault. I could have had a blog. I ought to have had one when everyone closer to my age did, right? My dad’s blog was the last straw. So I signed up, figuring I could be as vain and inane as the rest of the world. I got this here page and started to quickly add my overblown sense of self-worth to the already ego-clogged internet.

A large amount of the posts on this blog are links to things I find interesting, which means a lot of people will not give a damn. Ditto my opinions. Why cares, really? Okay, I know who cares (hola niña!), and it is for that one reader that I keep this thing afloat. And I expect few people ever will stumble onto this blog. I don’t blame you, there’s so many out there… it’s staggering to consider. With all the great novels I have left to read, why should I devote much time to reading the unedited ramblings of the blogosphere? Why should you?

Such ruminations make me think about shutting down this blog. To be honest, the word “blog” really upsets me. Such an ugly little word, like a filthy rodent scurrying across your kitchen floor. I don’t like the word and I don’t like blogs themselves, and yet here’s mine hanging out there, begging for attention. I might shut it down, but there is as little a point in doing that as there is in keeping it running. A space is provided for all of us to vent and make jokes and placate our fragile egos. It’s therapeutic, which is fine, but it’s also contributing to the online community of people who think they have something to say. At least I have no illusions.

Anyway, I know who my main reader is, so I’ll keep tailoring this thing to her tastes (te amo!), but as for the rest of you—should any trolls happen upon this page—I have dismantled the comments section, so sorry, you’ll have to pick pointless fights elsewhere. Yeah, it’s my blog and I don’t think anyone else needs a voice here. I may be as desperate for attention as the rest of the blogosphere, but I’m not so insecure that I need to make sure anyone’s reading. Sleep tight.