Sunday, April 25, 2010

world wide waste

A neuroscience professor once told me that the brain is a wonderful thing in that it cleverly managed to ignore much riff raff. And it was important that it did that. Paying attention to too much, storing all the information all the time is a ridiculously inefficient strategy since most information is worthless to the immediate goals of finding food and avoiding predator and the slightly more long term goals of procreating and possibly parenting. Retrieving information within the brain's memory stores then, is worse, much worse, than looking for a needle in a haystack. And the brain smartly decided to only store information that it tended to need, and pay no heed to anything else.

A few apes, a couple of tools, some fire, language, written scripts, a somewhat clumsy wheel, agriculture, animal husbandry, an abacus, an apple, a whirring machine, another apple and etc etc etc later, poof! we get the internet! And suddenly the brain's relieved of its duties to memorize anything. And humans immediately become thirsty and hungry not just for valuable information, but to dwell on any set of words and/or numbers that supposedly form a thought, the thought's coherence notwithstanding.

We've come a long way from Gutenberg's press haven't we ? From having to painstakingly distribute information to those that needed it, we're at a point where we painstakingly plough through the internet, concentrating really hard to ignore alphanumeric sentences that we do not need. Clearly, somewhere in between is a diabetes-worthy sweet spot, and clearly we're too mesmerized to bother finding and holding steadfastly to this sweet spot.

The internet is getting ahead of me way too quickly. It is with almost tearful eyes that I recall the days when I was aware of google and the rest of the world was yet to find out. But now, I barely survived the transition from orkut to facebook. Each time facebook changes its layout I can hear a few more of my neurons committing suicide. I feel unmotivated to open my twitter page despite having an account. And I find it oddly disturbing that weird sounding names are wasting their time following my account, which has no hopes of ever updating a status message. We're now pursuing 0 bytes of information with the same level of gusto that we pursue everything else ?

Each day, I sigh loudly when I realize that there's no way I can keep track of all the stories and blogs and news and gibberish out there. Reddit, digg, delicious, stumbleupon, tumblr just give me internal hemorrhage. A few hours before writing this blog, I sat down to figure all of that out, mistakenly assuming that it would make life easier. Few hours later, I'm moaning and groaning with the realization that all these people are probably doing nothing to nudge humanity forward. We're wasting our time, I, the sour fox, that cannot obtain the sweet grapes, have decided. There's an article somewhere that employees of the SEC are to be blamed for the recession because they spent too much time watching porn. What the rest of the internet-addicted world is doing is hardly more admirable.

It is therefore with some modicum of relief that I accept a lifetime of internet ignorance.


Anonymous said...

Careful what you wish for, for the internet of "things" cometh :D

Janani said...

I will be ready with my new found asceticism by then :)

Anonymous said...

Very well put. I do get similar feelings of falling behind in the race. blogging is a good way to hang on there, I guess :-)

Shalini Srinivasa said...

I really liked your post. One of the posts on THE internet that I really did not have to "ignore alphanumeric sentences " :)