Soon everything in this world will be swallowed by the net: from the military systems to the PC at home
I have forgotten how to be alone. This sounds like a deeply personal trouble, but it’s something that is experienced by many others.
Movements talking about the divine powers of information, forgot to foresee some events, information shaped our lives in unexpected ways. Maybe they were too busy with social issues to stop for a moment and reflect on the self, that already sounds like the effect of a problem of being always connected. Certain technologies can bring new problems into life they can solve, they can make new needs and goals or forming already existing ones into something different. With the ways of communication changing, the goals and the whole experience of communication feels like being under attack sometimes. Don’t you feel the strong urge to tweet? Then you exactly know what I am talking about.
It’s always strange to experience how the world is changing around us. There are tendencies and effects we don’t have clear ideas or even words of, but it’s surely true that somehow self-reflection is changing with being always connected to others thoughts. Everything evolves faster than we could fully understand them, their purpose, and the effects on our lives. Movements, musical genres, religions come and go like seasons. And we never stop for a moment to look around.
There is a psychological term called “flow” that is a mental state when an experience fully occupies our mind. Anything can cause a flow experience, and everyone knows it even without a proper term. The networked world moves so fast that it gives some kind of false flow experience with us being absorbed into the constant information. Some elements are missing though, like focus and even the proper willingness and intention sometimes. It’s more like gliding and scrolling through life than flying and experiencing.
This is nothing new, Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a more than 150 years old book, talking to us from the heart of an industrial era of history. Technology that made the world smaller and work faster probably always triggered similar thoughts in most of the people, even if unconsciously. The rate is unnerving though, the Internet is around for a bit more than 50 years, it’s not even a generation since it became widely distributed and used, and yet it’s like thousands of years passed on it. We could barely use the first tools invented for it, Gopher or Usenet are nothing but pieces for online museums. Text-based solutions like shells are well hidden from eyes, no games or animations work without 3D modeling any more.
Sometimes I talk for the sake of talking, sometimes I use a service just for the sake of meeting people. None of these provide the talking or meeting that is used to be, they have no meaning just generate more information. A loss of context and goal, even philosophy becomes small talk and chat, lost it’s weight it’s only purpose is to fill empty time, to entertain us. We amuse ourselves to death.
There are several aspects of the same issue, but Internet is not the root and most probably not even a cause, just a catalyst for the loss of meaning. Personally I just long for the time when I could be alone, immersed into my own time with a book or just watching the sky, because I somehow lost this ability. My mind is a chaotic mess, a soup of irrelevant and toxic information taking up the space, it’s treated like a hard disk by others and by myself as well. And I’m not alone with this experience. You are never alone.