June 6, 2014 Essays

“If you get loud, everyone gets louder to top you. And then everyone’s shouting and no one’s listening. If you want everyone to listen to you, get quieter. People will listen.”

~ Clive Barker

I think Mr. Barker’s quote there is more than a little optimistic, but I’ve always liked it, nonetheless.

I am not the first person to feel that there must be more to life than the internet / social media / technology. I will not be the last. When Prince declared the internet “over” a few years back, we all laughed at him.

God help me, but I’m beginning to wonder if he was right.

I read the article about the people who use Vine, in the Jack White issue of Rolling Stone (another guy who seems not terribly into the 21st century) and I swear, it made me want to delete my entire presence on the ‘net.

Short attention spans. Product placement in six second videos.
In a single moment, it all felt so meaningless.

We’re all shouting at each other. We’re trying to sell ourselves, or attain momentary immortality. We steal from each other. We act as if our tweets and our MP3s and our EPUB files will matter, but the only people who will care are future anthropologists who study us and ascertain that we, the people of the last 20 years, were the ones who fired the first shot into irrelevance. Because we couldn’t stop shouting at each other.

I am a hypocrite, writing this on a platform like this. I’m on Twitter. I have a website for the book I wrote. I question these things every day.

Some would say I’m a luddite, which is not actually true. I became fascinated with this stuff when I was eight years old, and got my first Atari computer. (As I often say, I’m older than I look.) I learned basic programming. I was fine not getting a jetpack, because these computer things seemed like a pretty awesome future.

Though there are, of course, countless examples of technology / the internet / social media making things better for people and even saving lives, every time I read about / think about / witness how technology has augmented every bad thing about us as humans, I look at Pandora’s Box, sitting here on my desk, and wonder, did we do the right thing, making this, evolving this?

Should we start over? Is it even possible anymore?

Maybe instead of trying to fit eternity into a six second loop, our energy might be better spent turning the equation inside out. Maybe we should just slow the fuck down and make something that lasts. Before we forget how.

Written by Tara