The Internet

The commercial Internet was so cute when it was a baby.

If it would have stayed the way it was in 1998, perhaps we would have all been better off.

It became a monster, and consumed us in ways we could not have imagined.

We kind of implicitly assumed that Internet power would mostly be used by people for distribution of information and shopping, but really didn’t foresee what would happen when it became a truly mass medium, when it became accessible in smart phones.

The echo chambers, the wholesale destruction of various creative industries, the information flows governed by the most charismatic, rather than the most informed…

I still kind of compare it to the post 50’s glut of food technology… trans-fat preserved snacks… the mass consumption of high calorie foods we no longer needed.

Eventually, we learned food discipline, once we understood all the limits that were simply never encountered by the masses before, since food had never been so unlimited before.

Eventually we will learn Internet discipline.

Not merely in the sense of, “don’t play mobile games for more than an hour,” but in a more all-encompassing way, since the Internet is certainly all encompassing.

Rather, we need to understand that the instant gratification… the ability to evade even the shortest moment of boredom with something, is like weightlessness in space.  It’s easy, but it robs you of your strength rapidly.

I think we’ll find that boredom and creativity are more inextricably linked than we realize now.

We learned not to eat things just because they taste good, and instead focus on calories and nutrition.  Likewise, I hope we are somehow able to stop consuming Internet things just because they are fun or gratifying in some way, and focus on the effect it’s having on our minds.

Even things like Wikipedia are perhaps informational junk food.  When I  go back to books for similar information, it is kind of disturbing how much better a source of information they are.

Difficult vs. Easy.  Cheap vs. Expensive.

Being a successful streamer requires a very particular set of people skills, at a level certainly far beyond my grasp, but not much in the way of hard skills.  I’m not sure how valuable it is for people to watch Twitch streams.

I think a lot about what life was like when we bought and listened to whole CD’s, and bought books from stores, and watched movies, and, as importantly, spent a lot of time not doing any of those things because we couldn’t.

I think a lot about how different people are now who never experienced a world without the Internet, and further, people who never lived without the mobile Internet, and how different their minds work.

But never without the thought, in the back of my mind, that I must avoid senseless nostalgia and stereotypical resistance to change that one begins to experience around my age.

What are the limits?  What is the future like, and what kind of minds do we need to have for it?  How to we prune our mental environment to give us back what we’ve lost, if that’s even possible?

Is it even possible to do so and still remain functional in the modern world?

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