Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Sometimes I find the Internet to be way the hell too much. Lately it has proven to be this way more than in the past.

One of my great regrets in life was that I never had a formal college education. I was too poor on the one hand, and too confused on the other. A lot of people I know who have good college educations tend to belittle the years they put into getting a degree, but for someone like me who never had the benefit of a discipline of ordered learning, those sentiments are not appreciated.

And so, over the years, I have tended to overcompensate for that lack of a disciplined education by reading. And I have read a lot. Not as much as some mutant intellects I have encountered, but more than most. The problem is that I have read widely and with absolutely no focus. I am familiar with a broad range of concepts and know a tremendous amount of superficial facts, but have detailed knowledge of few subjects.

Thus, my regret at having had no formal post-high school education.

I do have that Associate's degree that I earned by taking a class here and a class there at a local community college. But there it ended. Lack of funds and the responsibilities of a family stopped it there. Even that small accomplishment took me many years.

Because of the way that I tend to study (scattershot reading), the Internet has been a shiny toy for me. 'Ooo! Look! There! Yow! What's that?! Amazing! I didn't know that! Wow!' A sad and slapstick learning process that leads me to have just enough knowledge about things to piss people off and earn a reputation as a "know-it-all" (aka "smartass").

Recently I was looking at my newsfeeds. I consume a lot of news, but none of it domestic. (I find the various news sources in the USA to be stunted and laughable propaganda.) At one point recently I was perusing a little over 100 English-language news sites every day. Even I had to admit that this was pretty damned outrageous. I wouldn't actually read each of them every day, but I would skim them all and look for articles that interested me. Finally, I decided that 103 news sites was too much. So I pared them sixty-one. Yeah...that's still wild.

I think I need to shift back a few gears on the old Internet. It long ago became a pretty radical time-sink for me. It has helped me in some ways, but has proven to be a barrier in others.

Stepping back for an objective look is in order.

"Ooo! Shiny!"


Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

The most difficult thing to keep in mind is that the Internet -- as with the rest of the media -- is not the world. It reflects a very small minority in relation to the general population, and even the population that uses the Internet. Most people interact with the Web through their phones, and that's to either watch a video or play Candy Crush when they're bored. They don't give a shit for Tumblr "activism" or the hashtag wars on Twitter.

James Robert Smith said...

It seems to be a wonderful example of misdirection and wasted effort.