Scatterbrain

I was joking with a friend the other day about what would happen if we could give a peasant from the Middle Ages a Macbook. I’m pretty sure they’d deal with it in the same way Zoolander does in the scene where he tries to extract the files that are “in the computer.” They’d smash the hell out of it.

I kind of want to do that too, but I don’t. The reason I don’t is that, unlike my fictional peasant and Hollywood’s Zoolander, I’ve been trained my whole life to understand and accept the rationale behind the computers I use everyday to the point where they no longer represent anything extraordinary. I’ve been around computers ever since I can remember. In the third grade my school taught me to type. They gave me a laptop in the fifth and showed me how to create a simple website in the sixth. It went on all the way until graduation.

Which has been great given how necessary tech knowledge is, but something is wrong. Computers, and specifically the Internet, make me feel like a robot. The Internet just bombards me with too much stuff. Yes, there’s a wealth of intellectual, veritable knowledge (within?) the Internet, but only alongside any number of various links, ads, apps, and blinking doodads, so that I can’t even get anything done anymore because all I want to do is absorb myself in the thick of it. I can’t tell you how many times the process of writing has taken me far longer than it should, demanded much more forced concentration, and been a harder battle to fight because the Web has lured me in. In the midst of final exams, papers, and projects for school, I’ve even tried giving myself time limits and found that I have the ability to far exceed those before I even know it, even under pressure.

Just like a potent drug, or maybe even a crazed zombie, the Internet is eating my brain. Morning coffee is never without a computer by its side. Reading books and magazines has become harder and harder because my laptop always sits nearby. I can’t even watch TV anymore without being tempted to get on the Internet. Checking e-mail, Facebook, forums, blogs, and a ton of other websites has become an obsession. Got some down time while waiting for someone to meet you? Type something into Doctor Google…Maybe it’ll tell you why you keep getting all those headaches or why you can’t concentrate on certain things as well as you used to.

Truth is, I’m scared of the Internet. I’m not going to stop using it, because quite frankly, I want to use it. I enjoy it. All I’m going to do is try to re-fill the ice cream scoop that I feel has been taken out of my brain so far by the wispy, diluted bits and pieces that I take in from the Internet with more information that really has an impact on me, that makes me think more often instead of observe. I need a more carefully balanced diet of the Internet’s virtual proteins, dairy, and vitamins to feel better. I’ve been thinking of getting a subscription to the New Yorker’s online archives. Maybe that’ll help. I want to get rid of all the scattered tendencies the Internet’s bestowed upon me, and replace them with real, substantive matter.

Jeremy Dossetter is a first time Intern for Splinter Generation straight out of his first year at Kenyon College in rural Ohio where he studies English. He enjoys riding bikes long distances and photographing with film. His favorite poem is “If” by Rudyard Kipling. He currently lives in San Francisco.

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1 comment for “Scatterbrain

  1. June 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I can still remember seeing my first computer: the apple iie back when I was in elementary school. We were fadcinated by the cursor and how it was like a little magic wand on the screen just making letters appear 🙂

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