... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Block Chop 32: Internet and other distractions

When all is quiet around me, and my brain winds down to a standstill, the cooling fan in the back of my head slows to a gentle breeze and one of my mental screensavers springs to life.  The theme from the film Gremlins regularly prevents psychological screen burn in these quiet moments.  My second most common earworm is the theme from Dad’s Army.  Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler if you think we’re on the run?  We are the boys who will stop your little game.  We are the boys who will make you think again.  Who do you think you are kidding Mr. Hitler, if you think old England’s done?

If only there was some way of filtering out the constant racket of annoying tunes I haven’t heard for decades.  Actually there is, but it’s not much help either.  Internet and television.  Two welcome distractions from the background noise in my head.  The only problem with them is they are intrusive distractions from everything else.  Because of the television I can’t properly understand what the barking dog downstairs is trying to tell me.  Because of the internet I can’t look at a blank Word document for long enough to start writing.  Before the sentences fall into place the irresistible pull of the World Wide Web has drawn me in.  With its podcasts and programming and... other stuff (he implied coyly) offering instant oblivion from thought.  Curse you internet and TV for distracting me this way.

As far as creativity is concerned these media are a permanent thorn.  It’s all very well and good to say “work on a computer not connected to the internet,” but whoever heard of such a thing.  And even if this mythical technology did exist where would I go to reference the details of obscure allusions?  The Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed millennia ago, probably by Julius Caesar.   Modern day Ptolemys don’t construct buildings to house their great collections of human knowledge; they build datacentres.  Information accessed not via travelling by trireme to the furthest corner of the known world, but simply by logging on and trying to focus on the required information. 

Under the assault of targeted advertisements and stupid pictures of cats and pornography and billions of hours of unwatched animation and comedy and unbelievably well made American drama one attempts to remain focused.  And here is my problem.  Without the internet perhaps I could concentrate long enough to write.  But without it I would be lost; trapped in a geographically tiny corner of the world, while everyone around me flings data across rooms and vast oceans.

Then again without TV and internet what would we have to aim for?  All of us need these media to give us aspirations and career goals.  That’s you and me; everyone reading blogs and writing blogs.  All of us hope to hear our song in the Skins soundtrack, or our script on BBC3 after Two Pint, or our digital animation on the Viva idents between episodes of Sweet 16.  Or we want some of that internet money, and we don’t want to believe that every idea has been done already. 

But it’s true every idea no matter how pointless or trivia has already been tried in an infinite variety of permutations.  For example, my friend Ned writes an amusing and occasional ranting post on Face Book for his friends who enjoy his humour.  Out of curiosity I checked to see if nedrants.blogspot.com was available and guess what... someone had already taken it.  Look at it here.  It’s not written by our ranting Ned, but by one of the worlds many other ranting Neds. 

This particular ranting Ned is called Ned Mettleton and on the 21st December 2009 he decided that the world needed to know he “thanks God for having a penis,” and that “I’m honestly scared to fuck, no kidding, I mean shit!!!”  I love this guy.  He confessed all in one blog post and then disappeared without another post.  I wonder how the little guy is doing; I hope he got laid.  Let's comment his blog for an update.

Perhaps we all know that every internet idea has already been done, but think we can do it better.  It does happen.  A few years ago everyone was on MySpace, then Face Book came along doing exactly the same thing in a slightly better format.  En masse we dropped MySpace and became bum-chums and bosom -buddies to the newer sexier FB.  Poor little MySpace, lost out in the cold, confused “where has everyone gone”.

But all the revolutionary internet ideas of the recent past are created by technical nerds playing with clever programming tricks, not by graduates of vague humanities degrees with none existent practical application.  And that raises another question.  How do the people who build the internet concentrate on work, when their very job is 100% internet?  Can an internet programmer escape the distractions of the internet for long enough to build a little bit more internet?  “Dammit, I can’t stop browsing circuit bent Furbies on eBay;  I had better get off the internet so I can get back to my job of programming eBay...”

All this talk of the internet is inciting cravings.  It’s like sitting before a recovering alcoholic with a bottle of Glenfiddich, pouring a glass, dropping in a single ice cube, swirling it, hearing that ice clink, breathing deeply that oaky scent with a hint of pear, taking a gentle sip, tasting its oh so rich flavour, before swallowing that comforting warmth.  What was I talking about?

This blog post was brought to you by the good drunkards at Glenfiddich. 

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