To break the fast after a week of “media deprivation,” (which I personally did not observe) I propose a post, a “Post Toasty,” so to speak. With raised glass, I say L’Chaim - to Life! Here’s to the vitality of the Great and Everlasting Internet, the new Word on the Street as we know it, and to those whom we’d sorely miss if ever they were cut from our daily dosage of incoming media. Is it an addiction? Perhaps. But cheers anyway.
Cheers to the bloggers, the writers, the journalists, the humorists. To the savvy web-sters, the code-writing “standardistas,” the designers and creators of infinitely
On writing through media deprivation: Like observing the laws of kashrut (keeping strictly kosher) in a world of infinite food choices, conscientiously shunning the media takes a level of commitment (dare I say fervor?) reserved for the aesthete or the devout.
Facebook it. We live in the Information Age, the Worldwide Web of life. Media assaults us from the break of day to the last blink of an eye before sleep. Even as we follow it, the media follows us. A relentless, voracious resource. News feeds. Alerts. Email. Text messaging. Podcasting. Like a power utility, like the air we breathe, media connects and sustains us. Left to our own personal electronic devices (PEDs?) as far as our attention span can reach, we hold a constant source of data, news, entertainment, inspiration, empowerment, distraction and chaos.
Even if you didn’t crack a book, glance at a magazine, or watch TV this past week, chances are that you’ve stayed current with the times. On your way to this blog site, surely you’ve seen the news from the Gulf Oil Leak, the photos of sludge-sickened gulls and pelicans. More than likely, you’ve formed an opinion of the Israeli commando raid on a Gaza flotilla. Whether you follow baseball or not, by osmosis, you somehow know that a Tiger pitcher tossed and lost what would have been a “perfect” game, but for the unfortunate call of the umpire. And so the media stream goes on, flooding us in torrents of words and pictures.
For those who have followed the precepts of The Artist’s Way, chapter and verse throughout Media/Reading Deprivation Week, my hat’s off to your pursuit of a self-imposed serenity I can’t seem to muster. Essentially, I agree with author Julia Cameron that “we have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up . . . like greasy food.” As I page through Chapter Four once again, I’m reminded that the book was first published in 1992. Almost two decades ago, you might recall that cell phones looked like walkie talkies, that the Apple computer in demand was the Macintosh LC, and that the laptop was a Powerbook monster only an accountant could love. Internet cable access and email were confounding novelties.
Ever faster forward we go. With 1.8 billion of the world’s 6.8 billion people on the planet now using the internet, with 182 million pages indexed on the web (with the number growing literally every minute) with more cell phones in India than toilets, we have reached a level of technological complexity and mind-clutter we can’t begin to comprehend.
No one is in charge of the internet. Its babble and genius, its wonders and limitations are in our hands. These are our tools. We can use them for our betterment. Or abuse them. And literally, our brains are being rewired to the task. According to a recent study conducted at the University of California, Googling actually builds brain power. Neuroscientists have suggested that internet search activity stimulates the dorsolateral prefontal cortex - that area of the brain in charge of selective attention and analysis, the very gateway to our creative powers. Aha! The jury is out on this, of course. Even scientists know far too little.
As we live and breathe in a culture where the power and lure of media seem to grow unabated, there’s no tuning it out. Even for a week. So perhaps it’s a matter of filtering -- exercising media vigilance and imposing our own limits. Finding our own voice in the chatter.
So there’s my - oh my - 800 words! . . . of chatter. More than enough for one day.