July Write-O-Rama 7: The Information Had Edges

Here it is the end of the day and I am just now sitting down at the writing laptop to type out today’s post. Obviously, this will be another blog-type post since it is too late to coherently think about a particular theme or idea the entire time. Why did this happen? I went back to work, for starters. And work was busy today. So busy that I had next to no free time even during lunch. I am still operating the daughter #1 taxi service plus there were more clothes to wash plus today was clean the showers day so there went lunch. Right after work, I had my first haircut in two months and I definitely needed it. Then I had to run a car load of stuff up to the band room for the special coronavirus edition of the band banquet we are going to have three months later than planned. Finally, daughter #1 taxi service (me) picked up daughter #1 and we went out to supper since daughter #2 and wife were both tied up. I came home to a dishwasher to empty, more clothes to put up, my father’s bills to add to the list, corrections to make on the band Facebook videos I have been digitizing and stuff to add to the grocery list.

Reading back through this, I appear to be quite busy.

This morning, I saw Michael Donaldson’s post on micro.blog which led me to Craig Mod’s article How I Got My Attention Back and I remembered I had read it before and there is a lot of good stuff in it.

In fact, the title of this post comes from that article, contained in this quote:

Returning to those (mythical?) halcyon minimalist information days: You could read all of the news in a single day. Grab the two or three papers and read. The information had edges; it could be understood by a single human over one cup of first-wave coffee. Were you insatiable, the library was available to dig deep on the topics of the day.

But just the four words is all you need to explain the difference between when I was born to about twenty-four years old versus now. The information had edges.

Today and since about 1997, the information has been non-stop. 9/11 accelerated it just like the Kennedy assassination accelerated it in 1963. In fact, I find watching the YouTube videos of the news from November 22, 1963 fascinating because we are seeing a transformation of how news was delivered on both radio and television.

Until about fifteen years ago, I subscribed to the morning newspaper and it was still my primary source of daily news. I cancelled my subscription because the delivery people kept missing my house and I kept having to call three or four days a week to get credit. Life without a newspaper is not the same because I replaced the paper with my laptop then phone and our phones are the always on gateway to a never ending stream of information with breaking news coming in almost instantly and it’s really too much. It makes me anxious because it is infinite and because we never know what terrible thing is waiting for us when we unlock the screen.

So I have done my best over the last few months to minimize opening the apps like Twitter and to minimize the endless, mindless scrolling when I do open apps and by doing so, I miss some things. My father called me yesterday to tell me Charlie Daniels died. He heard it on the radio. I was digitizing videotapes and had on streaming music and no other devices. For most of the day, I was free of the stream and I was quite productive because of it.

What good does it do to be always on? Shouldn’t we be on less and alone with our thoughts more?

Michael Davidson also linked to The Attention Manifesto which is perfect. I want to print it out and hang it above my desk so I don’t forget it.

I need all of this but I am also guilty of pulling people into the overflow of information. I will post this on my blog. It will autotweet. The act of reading this is a total timesuck. You may get something out of it. You may not. You may just skim it or barely glance add it but it has disrupted the flow of whatever you are doing. I keep digitizing band videos and posting them in our alumni group on Facebook and Facebook is a pretty horrible place for a lot of reasons so I am also posting the videos on archive.org for people who want an alternative but the main links still pull people into Facebook and I feel guilty about all of it. I don’t want to waste your time or mine. I want us all to be creating, producing or just existing. There is no need to be dialed into the bombardment all of the time. It’s not healthy and I don’t like being responsible for diverting your attention to rabbit holes that pull you in and do their best to not let go.

We all end up there from time to time. I had high hopes last night that I would do something other than lay on the couch looking at my iPad and guess where I ended up. Why? Because I was tired and the iPad seems to be mindless. Of course, it’s not. My brain kept spinning with images and information long after I closed the iPad and no wonder. So then I get to feel the effects today of one hour or more less sleep yesterday. I am feeling it right now and I should go to bed but I want to finish this entry and keep the work going. I don’t want to get behind because I don’t want to end up missing the goal but even as I type, my eyes are getting heavier and I keep swaying my head back and forth to shake it off.