Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lost in cyberspace

It's been a rainy day in my hometown, so after my aerobics class and trip to the grocery store, I settled in to spend the afternoon trying to become better familiar with, perhaps even a functioning member of, the "online community."

Several hours later I emerged with a headache, eyeballs that feel like they're bleeding and a need to experience something, anything, tangible.

I'm an introvert, so I'm okay never actually talking to anybody, and I have a raging case of context-dependency, so I can be pretty happy finding interesting articles and blog postings with links that lead to more. And I really do want to understand this online world that's developing around me, rapidly changing the way people develop, find and consume content and connect with each other.

So I posted tweets on Twitter and updates on Facebook, found several blogs to follow, shared some links with co-workers, read dozens of cyberstories. Thinking about stuff is my primary hobby, and there's plenty to think about on the world wide web.

But after all of this, I'm exhausted. I can feel my brain cells gasping for air after way too strenuous a workout. And I know I didn't even touch a sliver of the breadth and depth of what I might find of interest in cyberspace.

It's too much information, times 1,000. Maybe 1,000,000.

It all leaves me vaguely uneasy. Like I've spent the whole afternoon inside my own head, bumping up against, but not really interacting with, other people who are inside their own heads too, each of us dumping out whatever happens to be in there for all to read. It's easy to see how people can, in this environment, be less than judicious in what emits from their keyboards and get themselves worked up over perceived offenses and ignite tweetstorms. A mob mentality forged from multiple isolated souls.

Well, like I said, my brain cells are tired, and I think they're preparing to mount an insurrection against any more work today. Out there in the real world -- I just looked out the window to check and be sure it was still there -- I see a late afternoon sun peeking through the clouds. My stomach, which continues to exist in the tangible world, is beginning to signal it wants some tangible food, and Mr. James, who gives not one holy hoot about anything virtual, is requesting a walk.

Time to rejoin reality.


Sarah K said...

I agree. I'm trying hard to make my weekends "screen free." I took my blackberry on a walk the other afternoon and realized that was just over the top and needed to stop. Like anything else. Diligent moderation!

KD said...

Linda, this is so accurate. My job finds me spending hours (during and after school) parked in a computer chair (torture device) and catatonic in front of a blinding screen. It's how we "assess" (we don't "grade," of course), how we access visual content to spice up our lessons, how we plan tests, how we collect data from our little lab-rat-class-subjects, how we respond to parents, no matter what their mood or request, how we upkeep our folders and files so as not to bury the entire network, how we attempt to find that great piece we created three years ago, maybe right before the last crash, where we keep up on the latest educational hot topic or find the latest retirement meeting to attend,.... When I finally unstick myself (as the sun sinks outside my classroom window and the halls are silent), my eyes hardly focus on the (thankfully deserted) 4-lane that leads home...where I immediately check my email and the Skype connection to my beloveds. And I wonder why eyestrain is the illness "du jour." Not to mention brainstrain.