Our brains are great. They’re complex, elastic, they do so many things simultaneously that breaking down something as simple as the brain activity involved in the mechanics of a sneeze into its component parts would probably fry Deep Blue in a nanosecond.
But but mine has had enough.
There’s so much to read, so many websites and blogs, so many Tweets and status updates, so many books piled around the house, unread magazines and newspapers. Everywhere I turn there’s more content to filter through, and it keeps piling up.
All of this information is intoxicating, these connections and networks, all this faux social contact, it’s like a crazed addiction, like an allergy whose reaction is a craving for more of the same. There will never be enough to satisfy the desire for more.
Second to the day I realized what an infinite universe felt like – that hollowness of space going on beyond my imagination, expanding in my brain until I became dizzy – was the day I realized that if i did nothing but sleep and read the published materials (and by that I mean books) available to me at this moment, and did nothing more, I wouldn’t even make a dent in that reading in my lifetime. That doesn’t include all the books yet to be published. It doesn’t include all the other print media, or the internet, or all the incidental research reading spurred on by questions raised in the reading I want to do, or might want to read once I discover what I don’t know is out there.
The world is drowning in content, and we keep chasing it like we can ever catch up with it.
What is gained?
It’s like we have this idea in our heads that if we chase down all these threads of content we’ll achieve something greater, faster, than if we’d just take life as it comes.
We’ve found ourselves in an accelerated cultural miasma, with subsequent generations jettisoned faster and faster into the maelstrom, believing this is a good thing.
We come into the world unburdened by all this content, and as hungry as we are to learn, we are never as happy as we were when we were innocent of it all.
I spent over five hours of my day staring at a computer screen today, reading and writing words, but I can’t decide is the best moment of my day came from staring down a goose at the reservoir during a morning run or the simple enjoyment of a spicy meal I made for the family. And now here I am attempting to hold onto those moments by converting them into some form of content, sharing them in the hope that they will last, give the whole of my day some meaning, some purpose.
Could we, I wonder, collectively, go a day without all this extraneous content? Could we set aside one day and create a mass moment of clear consciousness, a day where everyone agreed to go without the artificial stimulation, just to cleanse the palate? No blogging, no facebook, no surfing the web at all, no books, no television or radio or magazines… one day. Is it possible, or would it require a planet-wide, life-threatening solar flare?
Could it be done?
Have we gone too far?
Would it even make a difference?