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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Big Sea Of Nothing: A Rant About the Internet and Shiny Black Devices

What the hell are we all doing here on this internet thing? Smashing out blogs at an alarming rate, updating our statuses, poking and tweeting and retweeting and messaging and telling people where we are and how we feel.

And whatever we wrote last week is consigned to history. I mean, the data grabbing marketing people have it, but we have no use for it. I've seen the stats on my blog, my latest articles get read a lot but the old ones get about 4 hits a week.

Yet we keep churning it out. Is this the best use of our time? Do I blog for you or is it just my own ego trying to look like I know what I'm talking about? I've written nearly 1000 blog posts in three years! Should I have written a novel instead, or spent that time getting deeper into my screenplays?

Did you know I've been single this whole time? I'm good at writing statuses and making people laugh and inspiring people to maybe sort of start writing a script; but where's the intimacy? What am I doing in my life?

Is your productivity better this year than three years ago or worse? There are so many people online with advice, tips, help. How much of it is useful and how much of it is a pile of shit? Did Shakespeare need to read Seth Godin's blog every day, or did he just get on with it?

Social networking is useful in that I've met great people, shared my projects and even garnered some interesting work. But most of the time, it's wasteful! Every moment I log into Facebook is a moment I could have spent writing, or getting to know someone better face to face.

I'm not techno-phobic, I've always embraced it all. But I don't think this is it, I don't think that on our death beds we'll be wishing we spent more time on our MacBooks. All my friends sit around the dinner table with their phones out. Everyone in the cinema is texting. Are we capable of two hours without BBM'ing and tweeting, or is it too much for our wired up brains?

When iPads were first released, thousands of people lined up to buy them. Nobody even knew what they did, they just wanted them. And everyone wants the next iPhone. We're locked into this model of consumerism where we always want the next thing and then the next thing.

You can say it's healthy and I'm sure for many of you: it is. But far too many people are just spending all their money on devices which detach them further and further from their lives. And the next shiny black metal device isn't good enough, cause you'll get a newer one in six months.

But don't worry about me, I've finally decided to be in a committed relationship. With a Kindle.

Care to share?


  1. It's so odd to me you don't get more comments on your overnight rants. Maybe it's the word verification?

    I think we need to put limits on the devices - limits for our children and limits for ourselves. The people who are able to use them to make themselves more effective without getting lost in them will win - a sort of techno-Darwinism.

    1. I guess it's down to the individual, but no-one's realised it yet.

  2. I totally agree with your facebook comment.

    I HATE when my friends have their iPhones out at dinner (home or restaurant). That could be one of my biggest pet peeves. TALK TO A REAL PERSON!

    I have an iPhone (a hand me down) only because a more techno "need to own the next best thing" member of my family took my upgrade thinking I wouldn't care as long as I had a working phone that texts. He was right.

    1. You didn't have to accept the hand-me-down :P

  3. I asked for a favour at work the other day and was told, " Sure. Drop said party an email." (Said party works in an office upstairs.)
    My reply: " Can't I just speak to them instead - face to face?" was met with a look of amused surprise.

  4. Great post on an issue I've tought about as well. Since I'm usually way behind on visiting other blogs it can sometimes be three weeks after something was posted that I get around to finally read it and respond to it. By that time no one else responds any more and people don't seem to care. Yet I seem to be part of it as well as I do try to put up at least 5 new posts every week. I do think that people spend way too much time on their devices instead of each other. Even if we are more connected online, we are way less connected to real things. People somehow prefer communication through devices because they can shape their image. Also like your point about getting more done without a connection, it's certainly true!

    1. Yeah, "People somehow prefer communication through devices because they can shape their image" does unfortunately seem to be true.

  5. I tried to comment Sunday morning and my [new, super] phone is so bad with it, I gave up in a huff and haven't come back until now. My initial thought was that all the social media network stuff is a cipher for creativity in the same vein as it's a cipher for relationships. And I want to give it some more thought, because to say it has no weight or meaning is wrong but the idea that it overlays on truth and reality and NOW, but isn't actually those things, is quite appealing.

    Doing is much harder than talking about (as your actresses in coffee house sketch proved!), and it's also more interesting. We can now live vicariously through the pseudo connections we make to "exciting" people, rather than see we have an interesting life to lead connecting with our literal companions. Or sitting down and writing. Minette Marrin had a comment article in Sunday's Times, echoing your thoughts and suggesting that etiquette with all this tech might improve, once we get used to it.

    For the creating side, it will always be useful to know how the scene works if we want to launch something - publishing, music, film, equity trading all have something in common. But perhaps less focus on the biz, and more on the content - a return to ways of Shakespeare indeed - could stand a few of us distracted types in good stead.

    PS - This really should be compiled and edited better, I hold up my hands. But at least it's written. Right?! :)

    1. Written rather well if you ask me! Great thoughts! :D

  6. I come to think of a speech I listened to recently at TED by Sherry Turkle, which I can't shake off myself. It keeps coming back to me. I think she has some good points. The question is: is there any return from where we are now? Or do we need to find a way to connect for REAL - with technology? Anyway. I recommend it to you.

  7. Great post! Raises some very interesting questions.

  8. So when you first posted this I couldn't read it because I couldn't for the life of me open the page, but now that I have...

    I do think that sometimes we do end up frittering away a lot of time on social networks and the Internet, or being too obsessed with new tech. I often find myself wondering too what I could be achieving if only I logged off for a bit.

    But at the same time I think we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves for using all this tech and being plugged in. Everyone has their own way of working and making things happen – just because we aren't locked up in artistic garrets pounding away at screenplays on typewriters doesn't make us lesser "artists" than those who do.

    The thing is, even though I will admit I have wasted quite a lot of time on things like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, this tech has also opened up worlds for me. Heck, if it weren't for this tech I wouldn't be following your blog and writing this comment! I also wouldn't know about certain news around the world, or have made friends with people halfway across the globe, so much so that when I travel I can meet up with them as if we're old friends, and even stay in their homes. It's made our world bigger AND smaller at the same time, and I think that's amazing in itself.

    So you aren't always hammering out screenplays, because you're blogging sometimes. But there's nothing really wrong with that – your posts and ruminations on film and music and art and life reach out to people who feel like they can now connect to another human being and feel comforted in the knowledge that they're not alone in thinking/feeling a certain way. And at the end of the day isn't that what most art sets out to do anyway? It's a precious thing that we cannot underestimate.

    And yes it is frustrating or sad to be single for a long period of time and feel lonely while being hooked up to an Internet of millions and billions. I feel it too, often. And so do lots of other people. And then you're lonely together, and it doesn't necessary get better all at once, but it's something.

    I often find that what makes a good story, a good film, a good song is its ability to bring out real people. And more often than not, I find that my time on social media and blogging can give me some of that too.

    1. You make some great points. And yes, I've made some great friends and connections with people like yourself online.

      Yet I stick by every word I wrote :D

  9. I deactivated my Facebook account early this year. Had to get back on it because I'm contractually obliged to be admin for my present employer's page. Sigh. I don't love it too much. But whatever.

    I long for the time when all I had the time for on the internet was to fact-check for the articles I was writing and email the people who had helped me get my story out on time and read blogs and comment incessantly.

    Oh well. Can't have everything all the time can you!

  10. First of all, I had a huge panic last night. You disappeared Kid, completely disappeared from my reading list. Meant to "find" you through one of your comments on my blog....BUT I had run out of see I have a self-imposed time limit on blogging.

    But you are back, so all is well.

    Now, don't get me started on all this techno rant. I am an Anti-Facebooker, have never tweeted & text when I have to (usually to save money on mobile charges). Emailing is fine as it is cheaper than a stamp.

    My current gripe? My 5,500+ songs on my ipod have gone thanks to a Mac crash last year. And you know, it doesn't really bother me that much. Like to me, they weren't really THERE if you know what I mean.

    What annoys me, is that I listened to all the shite back then when they told us that vinyl was dead. Sigh.

    Oh yes, I am defo more creatively productive than I was three years ago :)