October 24, 2022

Reading Update - The End of Absence and I Miss You When I Blink

I just finished my 48th book for 2022.  This is rather astounding as I basically didn't read at all between 2010 and 2020.  

I Miss You When I Blink was just as good as I hoped it would be.

I read The End of Absence this month.  It was interesting to read a book about the internet written in 2014.  It was interesting to remember that fairly recently the internet used to be so much different.  It was also interesting to realize that 1985 really is the cutoff point of pre and post internet life... and internet free childhood.  

I wonder what those born 10 years earlier that me think about this - do they relish the fact that they didn't have ubiquitous internet until after college?  I don't think internet was a great addition to my college experience.  

People 5 years either side of me probably didn't use GeoCities.  Or StumbleUpon.  Or forge friendships through the chimes of AIM (Aol Instant Messenger)

Remember when we thought the internet was an unexplored world of limitless possibility?  

StumbleUpon was the start of the internet entertainment lever.  "Show me a thing" you told the button and the button showed you a thing.

The End of Absence had some fascinating points.  Firstly, Michael Harris thought of Analogue August before I did.  On day 24 of his internet abstinence project he writes:

"Behavior that seemed utterly normal on the 30th of July now looks compulsive and animalistic. Now when I see teenager girls burrowed into their phones on the sidewalk I think of monkeys picking lice out of each other's hair"

That's what resonates with me, in my own internet experiment.  What if instead of a phone everyone was holding a banana? And every few minutes each person checked their banana?  Families at a table in a restaurant showing each other their favorite bananas?  Sitting down on the sofa after a day of work and staring mindlessly at a banana?

Harris was also on point with the following: 

"Nothing is as enthralling as the lovely, comforting, absence destroying internet"

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