“My name is Oliver and I am a communications addict…”
The group gathered here today applaud with sallow skinned hands as they squint whilst struggling to focus on something more than two feet away from their face.
“Well done Oliver.” A rotund man in a Kasabian t-shirt which has seen many wears and, from the mosaic of stains, no recent washes.
And why am I hear you may ask… The short answer is, well, I’m not, it was just a punchy way of getting your attention. I very much doubt there is such a help group in existence and, if there were it would most likely be online where people have avatars of themselves in much better shape and looking far less like the cast of the hills have eyes.
Why do I not simply say, ‘internet addiction’ or something similar? Well it’s not though. For me the internet is bringing up a search bar, typing in something inane like “What size shoe is the pope” and seeing what comes up, soon I am clicking on random links and shooting off in another direction of, what I like to imagine is research. There is a deep seeded belief in me that anything learned, no matter how irrelevant at the time can be useful in the future. Some writers refer to a process called ‘composting’ where ideas are left somewhere out of sight in their mind to decompose, recompose and become something of value. In this example I feel I am simply adding to that pile of crap to create something monstrous yet, let us hope, benign… And yet, I think I may over do it… Reading an article about a fly that burrows into an ants head, lays an egg which then hatches into a maggot which controls the ant is all very disgusting and fascinating, but it’s not really going to help me in writing a story about a drug cartel made up of adored women from history gone bad.
And still, I digress… I say I am a communication addict because it is not just the internet, it is Facebook, twitter, text messages, I messages, phone calls, letters and possibly any other destruction to reaffirm that I am here and other people are aware of me. Do we all feel like this, that we need people to be aware that we are alive or is it only narcissists like myself? Hello? Anyone reading this?
Today I have taken the step of putting my iPhone on to airplane mode, a rather misleading and consequently disappointing title, switched to the hard drive on my laptop on which there is no internet browser, email application or twitter client and have become disconnected… No distractions… I am going to log my experiences throughout the day, my 24 hours of coms blackout… I like that, makes me sound like special forces… Anyway, I’m off to eat some cheerios.
I have done it, I’ve flicked the switch, I am now in coms blackout. I wonder what is going on in the world beyond. What happens if there is a national emergency, an astroid tumbling toward Earth and we have but hours to live? I check myself, that’s stupid, I couldn’t do anything about that anyway… All the same I keep an ear out for any commotion in the street though, unfortunately, I am in a rather quiet village at the best of times. The ‘fear of missing out’ is already kicking in.
FOMO, as the internet geeks say, is what drives such things as twitter and Facebook. It’s the overwhelming belief that something truly amazing is going on and you’re going to miss it… Which is stupid really because when you do eventually log onto Facebook your timeline is bursting with pictures of babies that look like screaming pink potatoes, peoples poorly failed misery in status’s such as “I hate this…” with subsequent comments such as “Hope you’re okay babe, want to talk about it” and the enigmatic response “No, it’s just stuff.”… Obviously I have cleaned up the spelling there for you so you can read it comfortably. As for twitter, it’s even worse. It’s time dependent, a tweet comes and a tweet is gone, it’s like watching traffic on a motorway or, if you’re an active twitter user, it’s like throwing your little boat of bollocks into a river already fully jammed with other peoples little boats of bollocks. There are some gems in there, some things that make you ‘LOL’, but for the most part it’s people complaining about politics, family, friends, the bin men who seem to get a particular bad rap on there or other twitter users. Twitter is a bitter place. In fact, from now on I’m going to call it ‘bitter’… Actually I won’t, because that’s kinda stupid.
Anyway, I go to make a coffee and try to work out what I am going to do with these 24 hours… Work on a book? I peep into the recesses of my mind which hold the tools of that craft, they are obscured by webs and dust… I shiver to think what could have created such things, do I have mind spiders that lurk in even deeper and darker corners… Or is the ‘web’ just my sub-conscious clamouring to read about Jane:
“I’ve just had a smoothy and am going on a sixty five billion mile run, wish me luck. XXX”
Oh piss off Jane…
Feeling a bit jittery… Probably too much coffee… Six cups? Is that too much? I’ve done fifty press ups too, written about a thousand words on a short story which has lain dormant for many a moon, played a few rounds of poker on my iPhone, lost, and exchanged some vague insults with my dad. Note: I’m currently at my parents so maybe this isn’t a zero communication day as such.. No! I’m trying to justify discontinuing this horrific afar… Okay, focus Olz… You can do this. I’ve already tried to check Facebook about six times but obviously my iPhone was off line. Part of me wonders what is going on behind this insubstantial vail and I anticipate reconnecting tomorrow morning at 8.00 hours sharp, and yet another part of me knows that there will be little of consequence. Oh yes, a candy crush saga request, cheers Gordon…
My work flow seems piratic, has my attention span dwindled so…
Lunch has been consumed… Earlier than usual might I add and i have switched onto tea. Ideas keep floating into my head with the intention of either confirming or dispelling them online… For example I was wondering on the number of calories per slice of a medium Dominos pizza… I then went on to wonder if, when entangling two tales of an over all story whether it was preferable to do them separately and reintegrate them in the edit or to go back and forth in a linear way… And in neither case could I find even a partly satisfactory answer.
A distraction arrived in the form of some blocks of wax that I ordered. I decided, whilst web rambling and encountering a page about it, to start wax carving. The two blocks, each costing £10, are about the size of four packs of cards… Another great internet buy. This experiment is going to save me money I feel… And get me fit… And cause me a heart attack due to a caffeine overdose.
Also, on the subject of caffeine, my dad was accusing me of drinking all his coffee. I pointed out that if I was a barista working for £10 an hour, to make him coffee, as I do, it would take approximately three minutes, costing him 50 p… In turn the coffee capsules which he buys are 29 p each… In this way I am being veritably charitable by drinking his coffee… He disagrees.
I m questioning this experiment, what is it’s purpose, will I have an epiphany and cast away my laptop and, after another quick losing hand of poker, my iPhone? Of course not….
It’s only been five hours and I’m already striding through the house trying to find things to do… Are these withdrawal symptoms?
I’m hallucinating, when a woman from the red cross came to the door I had an overwhelming urge to retweet her, such a good cause… The conversation didn’t seem to last long enough to me, no doubt my coffee breath and crazed appearance dissuaded her from further conversation.
I imagine her out there, ‘LOL’ing online with all her red cross buddies, Bono, and Geldof about me. Oo look, she’s just been poked by the pope… pope poke.
I need to stop thinking like this. I’m currently holding the block of overpriced wax and trying to imagine what I might create with it… A phone? A miniature iPad? A mythical beast, with wifi?
Has it come to the point in the world that to be disconnected frustrates any spiritual, financial expansion? With out email could one carry on correspondence with people in business? Could one satisfy those intellectual itches? Could one socialise and keep up with their circle of friends? I’m not sure. The only people I know who aren’t on the internet are My gran, 88, and Yoda, though the latter probably doesn’t need the internet.
In which case, there is no choice, we are dragged kicking and screaming into this world just because everyone else is. It’s like some great maw in the earth which has opened gobbling up face to face communication, freedom of will while belching great plumes of adverting, images to aspire to, wishes that can never be fulfilled… The internet is the devil!..
I wonder if that cute chick has poked me back.. No Olz, just no.
Bollocks to it, I give up…. besides, how else am I going to post this on my blog for you to read?
Relief rushes through me as I reengage all of my communication streams. I anticipate an influx of messages, requests, tweets, emails and missed calls.
My phone buzzes, I snatch it up.
“Stop drinking all my coffee. Dad”
Maybe the other messages are bottle necked because there are so many of them? So, dear reader, leave me here, leave me in my room as twilight approaches, surrounded by empty cups, a phone clutched in one hand whilst the other, seemingly of its own volition, hits refresh on my computer keyboard… Refresh… Refresh… Refresh…