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December 19, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

The Eye That Never Blinks -- Internet Obsession

[by Blake Butler, editor of HTMLgiant, a fabulous time sink of a web thing in its own right]
posted by Potomac Avenue (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I used to write like this, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

Now I just borrow meme jokes.
posted by thanotopsis at 1:12 PM on December 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Often at dinner or a bar with friends I’ve newly met or known for fifteen years it’ll end up being all of us sitting around the table on the smaller machine always on our person, whatever brand of phone. We are updating the status about where we are now and with who or for how long and what we mean to do, uploading photos of ourselves sitting there or what we’re about to eat, as if there’s anything anyone could do outside the room in response to that beyond saying, mmm. Or we’re looking at the mobile versions of the same sites again to see again if anything is new again and though it is, because there’s always new there, there isn’t, because it’s hardly ever something you’ll remember beyond the look. The feed exists to feed, and so you eat.

Of course, you can always choose not to do this.
posted by dubold at 2:04 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]



Of course, you can always choose not to do this.
posted by dubold at 2:04 PM on December 19 [+] [!]



He covered that. Something like, "If you choose not to be consumed, you choose to wait and witness the consumption of everyone around you."

Which is sort of true. But, it's still a choice.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:09 PM on December 19, 2011


Of course the best and creepiest part of Lost Highway is the bit that the screencap in the linked article comes from, when Robert Blake wields a video camera like it's a weapon and he points it right at the audience and you recoil in horror.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:57 PM on December 19, 2011


What is this piece even about? I mean, I'm at least a little clever and I can't make heads nor tails of it.
posted by no mind at 3:03 PM on December 19, 2011


An obsession is only bad when it's out of control (and even then, that's sometimes a good thing...) If you're worried about being obsessed: take ownership of your desire. Use the Internet for something creative, something that reaffirms your life and enriches the experience of those around you. Plenty of people do. The Internet is not to blame for your obsession - only you are.
posted by jet_manifesto at 3:12 PM on December 19, 2011


Which is sort of true. But, it's still a choice.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:09 PM on December 19


And the better choice, in my experience. Everyone's so busy FarceBooking that last funny thing they said/how good or bad the main course was that it leaves you more time to flirt with the wait staff and ignore said consumption.
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:13 PM on December 19, 2011


It's never a good idea to flirt with wait staff. They're required to respond to you.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:28 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hildegarde: It's never a good idea to flirt with wait staff. They're required to respond to you.

Alternatively, according to wait staff I know... It's always a good idea to flirt with customers. They're required to tip you.
posted by gilrain at 3:31 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


ugh i have got awl fatigue
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, I'm at least a little clever and I can't make heads nor tails of it.

Meandering musing on that moment you look up from your phone, while at dinner with friends, and realize that everyone is doing the same thing.

All experience are mediated, that we examine ourselves as we go through life, this is seen in things like John Cage's 4:33, or the other art he mentions. It's one thing to view this as art, it's another to have it as an omnipresent part of human life, to have the human experience mediated through dozens of tiny screens, and to be reminded of it continuously.
posted by zabuni at 4:18 PM on December 19, 2011


Of course the best and creepiest part of Lost Highway is the bit that the screencap in the linked article comes from

I duno, the part where he's at the party and phones dude's house while standing there staring right at him but somehow answers the phone at the other end at dude's house is scaring me right now just thinking about it.
posted by Hoopo at 5:00 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


All of Lost Highway is the creepiest bit of Lost Highway.
posted by dng at 5:32 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even the transcribed lyrics to Mariah Carey’s single “Obsessed” seem to, probably accidentally, exhibit some of the bizarre weight of the state’s encampment:

“I was like, why are you so obsessed with me? So oh, oh, oh, oh, so oh, oh oh, oh So oh, oh, oh, oh, so oh, oh oh, oh So oh, oh, oh, oh, so oh, oh oh, oh So oh, oh, oh, oh, so oh, oh oh, oh

All those holes as little portals, mouths to slinking tubes shaped like the S’s, the h’s little rooms where one might stop and lay or turn around.


If you think that's something, you should look at your hands. Like, really look at them.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is this piece even about?

First World Problems, pretty much.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:05 PM on December 19, 2011


OK well but is anybody actually "blaming the Internet." Knee jerk response here is that it seems like somebody might be insulting my favorite thing i.e. the internet so I better make sure to say no it's your fault you're not doing it right. First world problem i.e. your problem is unreal and you are a loser. If u dont like it u dont have to use it la la la.

But this essay or whatever isn't "blaming" anyone much less any worldwide technological entity. Some person felt that something pretty sinister was going wrong in his life and in the life of his peers. Yes there is personal responsibility. We all know.

"It seems like it’s gotten harder to talk to people or even be around them sometimes in this dual folding of how the set of waking hours begins and ends." Yes I feel this a lot. Thank you author for expressing this in an eloquent and kind of beautiful though maybe a bit too "literary" way. I feel less alone now.

"The machines seem to be breathing." This is a phenomenological description not a techno-pessimistic opinion. I am home for Christmas with family and yes indeed the machines do seem to breathe around here. Never silence. Silence means you have to think of something to talk about and then there's a split second of vulnerability and a little bit of some kind of anxiety and then the machines seem to feel sad and left out and so we better put something on. There are things going on in the world and isn't that really more important than talking about what we've been up to in our little first world lives or whatever. Always beeps and rings from some gadget somewhere that needs attention and when nothing's beeping we're waiting in between.

This isn't the Unabomber manifesto it's a guy who's sad because in his life he's perceiving that there's a lot of machine "interaction" going on that isn't really that interactive or fun or communal or participatory instead just "feeds feeding" on anxiety, dullness, silence. First world problem. I hate that phrase so much. Fuck you for trivializing the suffering of anyone. And then the other worlds get PCs and smartphones too.

The essay avoids the word addiction which I think gives it a pretty interesting new kind of perspective, it seems very diffuse but I think that's the point — the "obsession" he's trying to sketch some kind of description of isn't so much a particular addiction to some substance or thing, not really a thirst — it's not just a need to consume some kind of passive matter — instead it's a whole lot of different streams and callings with diverse and interesting "content," and it's not felt acutely or specifically.

I dunno, it's such a weird thing that I really appreciate kind of weird and poetic attempts to describe it like this essay. Was it the same with TV? Were there these two poles of "it's the devil, ban it!" and "it's just a thing, use it however you like, it's your choice?"
posted by mbrock at 4:47 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


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