Blast from the past – Prequel

Yesterday I posted one of my old contributions to Slice of SciFi, and today I post the prequel, or more accurately the precontribution leading to Plethora of Science

The piece below was written six years ago and, if anything, it underestimates the effect of the Internet (wired and wireless) not only on productivity, but on life’s time management. We have literally fashioned our lives around it. 

I don’t know if this is good or bad. Certainly, I’ve seen lots of bad. The Internet empowers many people to be real douchebags, it promotes ‘skimming’ subjects and news as opposed to immersion, and it predisposes people to emotional responses as opposed to informed responses.

Some claim the Internet has hurt people’s interactions with each other (as in ‘less’), but then they claimed the same thing about television. Less is fine with me. If I am waiting in line, or in an office, or most anywhere, my biggest fear is a weak phone signal. 

“Why?” you ask. Because if there is a weak or no signal, people will not sit there with their head bowed to their phone god . . . they’ll be looking around. They’re going to fidget . . . they’re going to want to interact with someone.

A weak signal means I cannot pretend to surf the net and avoid that interaction. I might actually have to speak with someone. Someone who has been “educated” and “primed” by the internet to know very, very little about many, many things. . . most of them not true.

It damages my calm, it does. I live in fear someone will say something that will compel me to correct them, only to then hear, “No, that can’t be right. I read somewhere something about that, and while I don’t remember exactly where or what, I was left with the impression that was different from what you just said. I mean, what you said makes sense, but you can’t always trust common sense, science, or anything I don’t agree with.

. . . and then the jury would refuse to accept my plea of intellectual self-defense, and I’d end up rotting in some jail.

Anyway, this piece is more about my own struggles with balancing curiosity and the desire to learn versus the drive to be creative, to indulge my other passions.

One thing I noticed, or maybe imagine, is that I’m a better writer than I was. I, therefore, tweaked the piece to bring it up to Disperser 6.0 level of writing.

I titled the piece . . . 

A  World of Knowledge

Copyright E. J. D’Alise 2008-2014, Updated 2014

The desire for knowledge is messing with my productivity. Like the proverbial tree, the lure is nearly irresistible, and the consequences are less than ideal. It’s a struggle between the thirst for knowledge, characterized by the broadening of my horizons to span the entire globe, and taking care of the stuff of life.

I’m speaking, of course, of the Internet as a fountain of knowledge and also as the bane of one’s goals.

Just in this little corner of the Internet, here in Slice of SciFi, there is enough to explore so as to suck up at least a couple of hours of each day . . .  and that’s if you’re just scanning the offerings, not even reading them in-depth. Now multiply that by hundreds, if not thousands, of other sites. They all clamor for ever more precious slices of my time. The answer, of course, is to cut down on work, eating, sleeping, and family life.

Seriously, does anyone have different suggestions?  Because I know I am not alone. Writers and photographers, show hosts, and professionals in all sorts of fields, all lament how hard it is to get anything done. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and the story is the same.

Just about anyone who is asked how to deal with it responds the same way; turn off the TV, log off from the e-mail account, or better yet, turn off the Internet.  Yeah . . . get real!! 

The lure is hard to resist. At any given hour, one can converse with someone from Australia about a video from the Netherlands submitted to the Internet by someone from Japan.  If one stops to think about it, the reality of it is mind-boggling . . . and exciting, and interesting, and hard to resist.

But I, and many others, don’t think about it. It’s become a common occurrence, something that can happen multiple times a day, substituting any of hundreds of countries, and dealing with almost any conceivable topic.  Being a social recluse (by choice), I find myself using the Internet as a substitute for social interaction. But really, it’s not a substitute; it is social interaction, minus the tiny detail of not being face to face (a good thing to my mind, and likely beneficial for the person at the other end as well).

Chat rooms, forums, and e-mail all blend to give me a virtual presence that spans the globe. A number of people around the world know my name, and I know theirs.  And I’m nobody. I don’t have a popular blog, run a forum, or even have a web page (kind of an embarrassment these days). But others do; interesting people who provide a common ground for others to interact, share ideas, and form friendships . . . the bastards!!

How am I ever going to amount to anything if all these people keep strewing obstacles on my path to published glory and lucrative movie deals?

Of course, it’s me who is to blame. I have a choice. A choice between adding to my stories, polishing them up, forging new worlds and interesting characters . . . or spending an hour answering a small snippet of a comment, made by someone I don’t know, on an obscure forum regarding a subject that within minutes will no longer be of interest to anyone. 

It is a compulsive disorder.  I read something, I formulate an opinion, I correctly assess posting a comment will just be a waste of time . . . and yet the next thing I know, I’m using precious time to compose a piece of writing that will be no more than a drop in the vast sea of the internet.  Maybe all of two people in the whole world will ever read those words, and one of them is me. 

I find this cartoon humorous for a very good reason; if I look very closely, it’s me sitting on that chair. 

Sure, I’m one of those lucky guys who can do well on as little as three hours of sleep a night.  But think of all the time I could have used to write fiction, or even post more of these brief pieces.  Instead, I find myself online debating the pros and cons of using fantastic Nikon equipment versus the other mediocre, if well-selling, brand.  Or debating the merits of my opinion on any given subject versus that of poor souls who invariably seem to hold views that are totally wrong. 

The real annoyance is they think they are right, and that it’s me that’s wrong.  Perhaps that is it!  It’s the sheer audacity of these other people that spurs me to pound out reply after reply. 

Whatever the reason, my “to read” pile grows, my writing projects gather electronic dust, and my goals get time-shifted to the point where it’s automatic to move them a week into the future without even really remembering what they were.  I wish I could say it’s making me miserable, but I can’t.  I like to learn about the world, converse with people halfway around the world, and reach out and see the universe (WorldWide Telescope).  I get to do all that without paying some airline to lose my luggage or have some security person feign interest in examining my shoes.  

In truth, invariably, my urge to write takes over, and I am the better for having added to my understanding of the world we live in, the people we share it with, and its place in the vastness of the universe.


That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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