Yes. Just like programming class all over again–run the code to see if it does actually work–see if it carries out through the internet. Will it print? I have a tenuous relationship with the internet. It feels like a trap. Possibilities endless yet when I leave my desk I am still the same person. I spend way too much time using it, way too much time passively experiencing it, way too much time consuming it. Very little of my experience makes it out back there–just server queries, video feeds. A glorified television–all feeding in, nothing going out.
The internet seems like a scary place–infinite in scope. Throw a request out into the void and you expect to get something back, but no it ain’t quite so simple. Naively you’d think that if a band uploaded some groundbreaking music for all to hear that they’d soon have thousands of Facebook friends–thousands of real fans that want to hear more–but no that doesn’t happen. The world does not operate in that way and so the internet does not either. On the other side (the million of other sides)–another computer monitor sits, with a real person behind it–they have a life and they want a real interaction.
So that was enough of a reason for me not to invest in living online (though in reality I was all along spending so much damn time on the internet anyway, lurking away)–but in the past few months I’ve felt the need to change my relationship with the internet. I work in theater sound and I need a place where the sounds I make can be heard–where a dialog can begin with the listener. This is the beauty of the internet–an extension of our ability to communicate, our voices, thoughts, nervous systems. I do not intend to toss a stone into the void and simply expect a reply without hard work–without backing it up with my real life. The real world is an even more complicated hard drive.So where did I stumble upon these ideas? Mostly I just became aware of what my relationship with the network was–and where my input was lacking. Even so, I think that I can point to a few influences of my current state of mind:Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff has really reinforced many of my views about the internet. This short book contains 10 commands for the digital age which really should be read–make its way into our consciousness virally. The book is really a philosophical tract on how the internet age is influencing our behavior and how we can control it (or be aware that it is controlling us). Defining a new morality that is more than open source and free-as-in-freedom.Eventually, I think I’ll post short responses to each chapter commands, but the first command really tells a lot about the book as a whole. Do not be “always on”. Digital life is not the only life. Computers are a tool to attempt a good life–they are not an end–and in many ways they are a distraction. The internet helps us do some things very well (write a blog post, disseminate fact and opinion, democratize the media) and other things very poorly (concentrate, enjoy simple pleasures, have a face to face conversation).
Another influence for me has been Phil Elverum, widely known in internet music circles because of his music projects The Microphones and Mount Eerie. (Would I have heard this music without the internet? I certainly first heard his music through the internet. I live in Minnesota and he in Washington) Now besides being an aesthetic influence (The Glow Pt. 2 being my favorite recording–ever) some of his lyrics help me pinpoint my criticism of the internet–or those of us that rely on it too heavily. It is no replacement for life.
Get Off the Internet by the Microphones
“Listen to me get off the internet
We are the ones who are alive right now so lets start living
We’re obsessed with freedom and living easy lives
but what use is an easy life hungry and blind
The hallow cold, the crawling-hunting,
indulging your weakest parts and still you’re hungry
Why not wake the fuck up and smell the air outside
and do a little real work and come back to life
Clean out the fridge, take out the garbage,
sweep the floor, open the doors and windows
read the news, shut up about music
ask a stupid question, stop feeling too ignorant
This is the one world where we live curious and busy,
As the world is ending can I survive this cold dawn
At least I can sit here in the street exhaling and strong
Clean up the mess, get off the internet
We are the ones who are alive right now so lets start living.”
So that’s it for now. There is where I stand. Expect to see my website brimming with sounds/thoughts/photos (unless some paid work presents itself to me in December). Feel free to comment–let’s keep this an honest endeavor and rid the internet of lurkers. Hmm, yeh.