April 30, 2008

The Trouble With Disconnecting

I was just thinking about Sabrina Ward Harrison's True Living Project and it occurred to me that whenever I unplug from the internet, reality feels so overwhelming. Uncontrollable. It's sunny outside today and walking to the neighborhood cafe after being online for an hour feels like being electrocuted. The light, the sea breeze, the cherry blossoms, the moods of pedestrians, the violence of traffic. Reality is electric.

It makes me realize how prophetic, opposite yet complimentary both Sabrina and Steve Mann truly are.

On my walk to the corner store, I ran into the owner of the Alibi Room (a great place -- we should have dinner there sometime, you and I) walking up from the beach with his young son on his shoulders. He updated me and we chatted about the restaurant and mutual friends for a block or so. Then, as unceremoniously as we began, the conversation was over. It was a Facebook newsfeed moment in meatspace.

The brutality of standard conversational patterns is just awful. I'm like Wallace Shawn in that respect. I would like to be better at improvising poetic alternatives to "how's it going?" conversations. Poetry for cashiers. Something like Noah Vawter's Ausweis, but with less materiality. He calls it reality hacking. I guess that's the thing. As disconnecting becomes less and less desirable (or even possible), one way to stay human is to become a better engineer.

Oh, the irony of it all. Now that new generations of children are being born fully wired into the Matrix, I have to wonder when Computer Science will finally be considered a department of the Humanities?

1 comment :

gillian said...

Love the My Dinner with Andre reference. IB 4 EVAH

I took a computers and society course in my last year in computer science and found it quite fascinating (though it was considered an easy throwaway course). It's interesting to realize most of my discourse with other people happens through computers, and I *like* it that way.