It’s traditional among bloggers to celebrate their 100th post with a special entry called, “One hundred things you don’t know about me.” (Surprise) this happens to be the 100th post of this blog.
I’ve been dreading this for some time because 1) I despise lists, 2) what I’m already doing here, which I like just fine, tells you lots of things about moi that you don’t know, and 3) I can’t think of 100 anything.
Was that a list? I’m not a mathematician.
I decided to do throw a knuckle ball. Something, for me, new. I’m going to tell you 100 things I worry about in the middle of the night, after a year of blogging, after a year-long swim in the Internet.
Strangely, I never worry about being a father in the middle of the night. I suppose this is because I worry about it all day long.
Je vous présente une collection de demi-formé méta-pensées.
Pensées. I like that. I don’t speak French. I got it from Google Translator.
Does this sound boring? I thought so. I’ll lie a bit to spice it up. In fiction, this is called being an unreliable narrator.
Fair enough? Here goes.
1-14. The thoughts already presented above. I’m counting them. Did I say I wasn’t a mathematician?
15. Nod to tradition. Something juicy you don’t know about me: I have a crush on Helen Slater. Who is that, you ask? Well, she played Supergirl in the movie, duh.
Moving right along.
16. Foreshadowing: it occurs to me this post will not have a happy ending.
17. I go to the Internet as one goes to a spring of fresh water, and I leave the Internet as one clambers out of a poisoned river strewn with the wreckage of flooded cities and the corpses of the drowned.
18. I didn’t say that. Arthur Koestler said it, except he employed the past tense, and instead of the word Internet, he used the word Communism. Koestler said this in a time when Communism was really scary.
19. To clarify, I’m not suggesting the Internet is Communism. It may, however, be a poisoned river.
20. I took Marlon Brando to lunch once. We had a nice conversation.
21. I’ve noticed a lot of posts on the Internet about how to make money on the Internet.
22. Nothing wrong with that.
23. According to most of these posts, a good way to make money on the Internet is to tell other people how to make money on the Internet.
24. Does anyone see a problem with this? Hands?
25. There isn’t enough money to go around as it is, so the only way for everyone to be paid on the Internet is if money circulates really fast.
27. My day job, I’m a physician, an anesthesiologist, has nothing to do with the Internet. It happens in real time. Nevertheless, every year, the work gets harder and harder, faster and faster. I’m required to accomplish more with fewer resources, and in less time. I’m given less time to get to know and understand my patients, for example. Clinical decisions about what I can and can’t do have been taken out of my hands and are made by non-physicians, who work far away. I’m part of a team, and I’m expected to be a team player. The core value I’m supposed to uphold is not derived from the Hippocratic Oath, which I swore to fulfill when I became a doctor. The new core value is called, with no sense of the Orwellian overtones, compliance.
28. It’s well known that Google’s business is not search. It’s advertising. A media scholar named Siva Vaidhyanathan said, “We are not Google’s customers: we are its product. We—our fancies, fetishes, predilections, and preferences—are what Google sells to advertisers.” In this scheme, search is just the bait.
29. It’s worth considering how the above line of thinking applies to medicine. It turns out that in medicine, humans are also the product. I’m analogous to search, which is to say that I’m the bait. My job is not to take care of you, but to comply. I sell compliance to institutions.
30. The above analogy breaks down at some point. The question is, who is Google in the analogy? Insurance companies? Hospital corporations? The government? Take your pick. What’s clear is that there’s a fight among them to be more like Google. The reason corporations want to destroy Medicare is that they want to be like Google. That is, they want people to be their products.
31. A writer I admire, in a long essay about making artistic choices, ultimately tells us they must be Deep. Indulgent. Complete. Elegant. Emotive. Maybe this is true. But interesting that she’s borrowed these words from the language of product design.
32. The Hunger Games, a wildly successful series of YA novels which I confess I enjoyed, deliberately re-creates the experience of a video game.
33. Resolved: The corporations are not winning because they own Congress. They’re winning because the products they make own us. Which is in some sense saying that their products are us.
34. You probably knew all this. McLuhan undoubtedly predicted it. Nostradamus too, maybe. I didn’t know it, not when I started blogging. I was a playwright.
35. I started this blog not to share my opinions or sell anything, nor to give advice, nor to save anyone or solve anyone’s problem. I didn’t want to be bait. I wanted to tell stories about what happened in real time.
36. Where you sing your pain, a Buddhist saying goes, that place is a Temple.
37. Can you have a Temple on the Internet? I don’t think so. I think real Temples are slow. They need real people in real time. They need quiet.
38. In the nightmare world of Orwell’s 1984, every room had a telescreen. You watched the telescreen, the telescreen watched you. The telescreen couldn’t be turned off. There was no switch.
39. Our world is more subtle than Orwell’s. It allows switches, and trains us not to use them.
39-59. In an essay in the New York Times, Sam Anderson notes that Google gives over 8 million hits for “information overload.” Of the Internet, he concludes: “We need to remember the value of nothing. It’s like breathing: you can’t inhale all day. We need to learn to make peace with the information we don’t know, to embrace the zeroes, to relearn the pleasures of hunger, need, interruption, restraint. We need to work up our ignorance muscles. We need to organize our internal absences to create meaning. We are responsible, in other words, now and forever, for our own deletionism.”
60. The above is so important it counts as 20.
61. There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
62. The above, from a speech by Mario Savio, Berkeley, California,1964.
63. I had lunch with Mario once. We had a nice conversation.
64. When Nick goes to sleep, we usually put on a CD. Nora chooses it. I like to listen in the dark. We’ve been doing this since Nick was very young. Sometimes, a song called “Wings of Horses” comes on. It’s a song we’ve been playing for him since he was born. The song makes me cry. Every time. These moments transpire in real time, one second per second.
65-75. Works of art entail a questioning of the ways our carefully constructed self-definitions limit and imprison us.
76. The above, from an essay about theatre by Guy Zimmerman, counts as ten.
77-87. When we become addicted to feel good fantasies we grow impatient with the sufferings of others. Before long, acts of barbarity seem a small price to pay for our own comforts.
88. Ibid. He’s talking about entertainment here, and how it differs from art. Ten points.
89-95. As all the great religions remind us, what we are, finally, is too deeply mysterious to provide the easy answers we crave. This basic groundlessness is, in fact, the real subject of tragedy.
96. Ibid. This basic groundlessness. Isn’t that the Internet? Is groundlessness the Internet’s true subject? Award ten points.
97. I used to think the invention of the Internet was equivalent in importance to the invention of the telephone. But it’s more than that. I don’t believe that people, other than telephone operators, routinely spent ten hours a day on the telephone shortly after it was invented.
98. As great an invention as the Internet is, it’s not as great an invention as sex. But of course, you can have sex with the Internet.
99. I never worry about whether the Internet is as great an invention as anesthesia.
100. I worry that the Internet may be a form of anesthesia.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
Helen Slater flying. “You gotta be advanced to understand Supergirl.”
Image Credit: FantasyStock.
Do you have night thoughts? Unburden yourself. Just Add Father is listening.
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