Mo’ Tech, Mo’ Problems

During the last few months I have been whiplashed into the modern age when it comes to tech. I’ve never been an “early adopter” – a term I recently came across in Networked that describes those people on the cutting edge of culture that love to try out new gear the minute it hits the public market. It’s not that I don’t love new technology. It’s just that I see it as yet another thing I have to do.

It was bad enough when I was backed up with 12 different hardcover books to read, sitting forlorn on my bookshelf chastising me for what a bad English MA student I was for not reading them. But now I’m expected to keep up my Facebook profile, incessantly check my twitter feed, update my blogs, dynamically respond to my e-mails. And this is all just normal digital mechanics. Now there are pinboards and forum walls and stumbleupons and wiki pages, all of them yelling at me, aren’t you interested in all this? Don’t you want to check this all out?!

And I can’t, I just can’t. There isn’t enough time in the day. A couple months back, I decided that I would aggregate all the internet activity I could think of into a single RSS feed in an attempt to bring this massive amount of data and activity into a controllable and efficient form that I could get done and out of the way. But it didn’t work. True, I wasn’t missing a beat, but the beats just kept on coming. There was no end in sight. All the blogs I liked to read, the new YouTube videos to watch, the boards to check, the entries to write, the status updates and twitter posts to check, the e-mail to read, the pictures to browse, the weather to check, the news to investigate… it eventually formed an enormous circle that threatened to ensconce me forever in the digital world. I called my feed the GodFeed and Nietzsche would have been proud the day I laid it to rest.

I’m reminded of Tyler Durden in Fight Club:

No fear.  No distractions.  The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.

And that is the digital world really – chock full at every turn with that which does not matter. I’ve heard it said that the digital age is slowly but surely distracting the masses, and for the most part this is true. I found a 3 minute video of a cat randomly batting piano keys on YouTube that had been watched 24,593,828 times. That’s 132 years worth of human endeavor diverted to Nora the Piano cat.

Such is the new world. In this new age, perhaps, it won’t be those who have more drive, or more resources, or intelligence, or any of the other factors that built toward success in the past. Perhaps now, it is FOCUS itself that will be the determining factor on who gets things done and who doesn’t.

God save us all!