Monday, October 31, 2011

Problems We Should Be Proud to Have

I was standing out in the rain waiting for a bus being not thrilled but then also thinking, I'm lucky to even have a coat to wear. It's kind of amazing that I have a coat to wear. As a human species, there were evolutionary ancestors of mine that didn't have a coat to wear in weather like this.

And then I thought, This year, I am going to really get my shit together and spend real money on a real winter coat. One with a real functioning zipper where I don't have to rely on other people to help me with the god damn zipper that makes me feel like I'm seven and have to have someone help me in my winter coat. 

And then I thought, We didn't, as a species, always have zippers.

In fact, I think someone told me once that zippers are still outlawed (unaccepted? unused?) by some folks, like maybe certain sects of the Amish. (However, this is based on not only what someone else told me, and then also based on my own memory, which is not known for its exactitude.) So then I thought, I'm lucky to even be living in a time, space and society that accepts and utilizes zipper technology (when you have a not shitty coat) that makes life that much easier.

There's certain problems we should be glad to have. I have clothes that fit me! I have insulation from the elements! The fact that I have problems with my zipper means that my species has evolved to the point where if I'm having problems with technology that shows that my species has evolved to even HAVE that technology. That's pretty far along.

I feel like this doesn't make sense me saying that, so I will explore this more completely with another example.

How do people get through e-mails so quickly? So much comes to my inbox I have to go through: All the alerts that come that I need to look at on all the social media sites I do stuff on, the least of which is Facebook, where somebody has sent me info about an event somebody has created of something they'e performing in that I need to add to my calendar, all the e-mails of business I have to take care of ("So we're meeting at this spot at 5pm, can you pick up so and so?"), questions ("Hey what was the name of that podcast you were talking about?"), "Hey, here's this grant you should totally apply for"...I feel like it takes me 27 hours to respond to each e-mail. What compounds the problem is that I have this habit of signing up for lots of daily e-mails from websites like Gizmodo, or those feeds where every time somebody does another post I get the e-mail alert -- and then the "So and so commented on your thing here" that I then feel like I need to respond to (or at least check out)...Then I spend all my time weeding through the e-mails and deciding which ones I'll pay attention to or not, deciding what to read or listen to...Do I really need to listen to the NPR Song of the Day every damn day? Do I really need to look at  the Steampunk Home e-mail about the picture of something they added to their blog that day? It's all stuff I like, but I have a limited amount of time.


Technology is amazing but information overload is not. I always feel panic that I am missing out on something I need to hear about or read about. I have the world at my fingertips while simultaneously extricating myself from the actual outside world. And I know I am not the only one who thinks this; I've heard New York Times journalists complaining about media production versus media processing and my friends on Facebook pontificating about the debilitating overload of media consumption. Clearly I am not the first to articulate about this issue.

But on some level, the "problem" of information overload seems a preposterous issue to be worried about. Shouldn't I be happy that I have access to amazing media at all times? Shouldn't I be inspired by all of it? There's such a mass of material to massage my soul with -- podcast, blog, radio piece, music, info...

But then! I think I often feel panic that I can't get to all that media I want to get to. Funny too, that I would use the word "massage" in regards to nourishing my soul. That's kind of McLuhanish. As in "The media is the massage." Or was it the medium is the massage? A medium massage? Whatever. I need a massage. My brain and soul need a massage. (And probably some actual fresh air.)

I'm trying to be optimistically inspired by this modern dilemma. Poor baby can't listen to ALL OF THIS AMAZING MUSIC and LISTEN TO ALL OF THESE AMAZING PODCASTS. I can't read ALL OF THIS AMAZING STUFF.

Oh the humanity. Poor baby.

P.S. Here's a picture of me in the shitty winter jacket looking miserable. You're welcome!

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