Nobel laureate and Golden Notebook author Doris Lessing died yesterday at the age of 94. She’s the lady who famously had this to say about hypertext transfer protocol: “How will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by this internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc.”
As tempting as it is to dismiss her comments as the bully pulpit ramblings of a technophobic octogenarian (She was 87 at the time of her Nobel acceptance speech), I agree with her. In spirit, at least. The distinction she implies between a whole day “passed in blogging” and that same day passed pounding a manual typewriter is specious at best, if not outright disingenuous, and her blanket indictment of new media is as classic a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater as you could ask for, but the seductive inanity she refers to is self-evident. So is the addiction.
Hoo-boy, the addiction.
Your humble correspondent, for example, has been in and out of detox for almost 20 years. On the wagon, off the wagon. Handcuffed to an axle, dragging behind the wagon.
My experience of jacking in, as William Gibson termed it, is that time spent floating in cyberspace produces a high very unlike the highs of my adolescence and younger adulthood.
It’s a synthetic high, in other words.
Which might or might not be a bad thing. Or might be just a function of age. Or perception.
Except that it feels … even if only vaguely … and intermittently … wrong.