Friday, March 2, 2012

Fridays

As I approach my fifth year of writing this blog, I'm noticing the negative impact of too much Internet on my brain. Like Nicholas Carr writes about in The Shallows, I find that my thoughts are becoming bouncy, hard to hold, and it's difficult to get through reading an entire novel. Halfway through a chapter, I'm distracted. I have a stack of books I want to read, but strangely lack the desire for. It feels like not me.

While I have considered stopping the blog, I'm not yet ready to do that. So I'm going to try a harm reduction approach and cut back. My first step will be no more Friday posts--unless something particularly newsworthy happens on a Friday that can't wait until Monday. I'm hoping this reprieve will hold off the complete zombification of my brain a little longer. (Let's see how long I can stick with it.)

Thank you--and my brain thanks you.

49 comments:

Dave - Everywhere said...

I'm always disappointed that you dont post on weekends and losing you on Friday is equally distressing. But 4 days a week is better than no days a week, in my opinion.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

But I don't understand why? Being in a bookstore or library can be just as distracting but the notion never comes up. As a reader I pursue that one topic and somehow get through with it. The idea of the Internet having so much power that it controls our lives is stupid and foolish because it doesn't bother me. I read real books and e-books at my leisure and don't feel threatened by them at all. Perhaps I'm older, at 61, but I see it as funny.

EV Grieve said...

Ive ben on zeinetenet for sum tim and my bain is find.

LOL!!!!!

Look, a cat meme....

Little Earthquake said...

Uh-oh...this was the beginning of the end for Johnny Carson. A Tuesday guest-blogger can't be far behind. :)

James Campbell Taylor said...

At least you're aware of it. If only more people saw the benefits of unplugging once in a while.

Enjoy your Fridays!

City Of Strangers said...

Hi Jeremiah,

You post a lot. I can't keep up. I admire your energy, but yeah, posting less is a good idea.

Does the internet change our brain? I do spend a lot of time online, but working, ie coding. I still read books. In fact right now I'm reading 'War and Peace'. I definitely can't focus on the printed word, or on novels, the way I once did, but I wonder how much that has to do with being on the web, and just the general rush of my life at the moment.

I try and sign off after a certain hour . . . but hope you get your focus back.

t.

Michael said...

Bravo. Save your mind for one more day. Web-work burns cells.

Anonymous said...

good for you
enjoy the downtime

randall said...

Man. Stick with it. Your brain will thank you. I am beginning to feel the same way and have been making a conscious effort to "unplug" when I can, to get out and walk in the woods, read something that is not on the computer and doesn't have hyperlinks attached to it. In fact one of the reasons I like to post comments is so that I can take a thought and follow it through and put it into something "tangible" instead of my thoughts just vanishing into some thought ether somewhere.
I hope you don't one day decide to give up the blog. I really enjoy the content and the sentiment.

JAZ said...

I think this is a really great idea - I get distressed just reading what is happening to our city; can't imagine how much more of a toll it takes to report about it every weekday.

Might even want to consider a Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting format, with just checking on and posting the readers' comments on the other days.

JAZ said...

I think this is a really great idea - I get distressed just reading what is happening to our city; can't imagine how much more of a toll it takes to report about it every weekday.

Might even want to consider a Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting format, with just checking on and posting the readers' comments on the other days.

Grand St. said...

Yes, but will you cut back on your weekend Facebook musings?

(Best of luck either way.)

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah-
I hear you. The internet is a great resource of information on one level and on another a great zombie-fier. Not to mention a little terrifying as well, because after all, everything one does online is recorded...somewhere, and to me that is not very cool.

I've tried to think of successful ways to stay off my computer and I've found that, funny enough, DVRing shows that I would otherwise miss I can now watch at my leisure. Yeah, TV as a remedy for online junkiness. Who would've known?

I think we all would benefit by limiting our time online. We lived without the internet before we can live without it again.

New Kid said...

I'd rather have some of you than none of you! Growing up in the city you bring back memories of things forgotten, that shouldn't be forgotten or that I remember older family members discussing...

Take care and remember, with Zombies you don't have to out run THEM, just the guy in nearest to you.

Ed said...

I love the blog, but am well aware of the hit to one's ability to concentrate too much internet can deliver. Also, I have always preferred the "infrequent but substantive post" model of blogging to the opposite. So I think this is a good idea.

Melanie said...

Love you Jeremiah. Do what you need to do. Refreshing oneself is very important. There are some days I do not carry the camera because I want to see things in a different way. There has been so much sad news to report and that's draining.
You may come back with a whole new concept.

Romy Ashby said...

I don't blame you, J. It does have that affect, you're not the only one noticing that phenomenon, and I hope skipping Fridays will help with that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Jeremiah. I have the exact same issue, and I find I am more distracted, irritable, and unable to form cogent thoughts. Time to cut back!

Caleo said...

Would hate to see this most excellent blog go... but completely understand the desire to walk away from the internet/computer. At some point you realize that even a couple hours a day online are a couple hours you will never get back. Those hours could be spent reading a real book, or taking a long walk, or frolicking in the park, etc.
This is a great blog, but no one should begrudge Jeremiah wanting to live life offline.

Marty Wombacher said...

I agree with Dave, 4 days of Jeremiah definitely trumps no days. On Fridays I'll come here and look through your archives.

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about reading your blog, Jeremiah. Although it hurts to read about each and every blow, yours is still one of the first on my blogroll. I appreciate the work you put in, and I think any strategy you choose to save your sanity is a good one.

marjorie said...

I agree with Dave! We need our Cassandra! But I am emphatically pro-self-preservation, and I hope cutting back helps on that front. Thanks for all your bloggery.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thank you, everyone, for the supportive words. i really appreciate it.

JAZ, i like the M, W, F idea, that could be a good structure. although news comes up out of the blue and has to get up right away. and then there are the times i have nothing really to say, and just post a little thing to fill the space. i'd like to do less of that and more of what Ed's talking about, the "infrequent but substantive."

i've also been going back through all my posts and editing, in some places deleting them entirely, because they were filler more than anything.

so perhaps the future means a leaner, meaner JVNY. either that, or Tuesday guest bloggers as i ride off into the sunset.

Jeremiah Moss said...

and, Grand St., i don't think i will cut back on throwing a few things up on Facebook from Fri - Sun. it's easier to do that than to write a whole post.

really, i don't think i could keep away completely. when this blog ends, i figure i'll fire up the Grumbler and do something else there or elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, my man. Take a deep breath and sit back. Your blog is so heartfelt that it must be taxing eventually. I truly appreciate all you have written and look forward to more in the future. So by all means pace yourself.

Brendan said...

The internet absolutely erodes our attention spans. I also find that I read books less. The internet also can distort our view of the world: some things seem much more important on the internet than they do in real life and some less. Our internet personalities are not like real personalities: they are simpler, sometimes almost monomaniacal, lacking emotional depth. (And the true crazies have a much louder voice here than in the real world.) Spending too much time as one's internet personality, so to speak, interacting only with other internet personalities, can be a toxic ersatz kind of human interaction.

Last time I was regularly commenting on blogs I stopped for these reasons. This was 5-6 years ago and they were political blogs, which are of course the absolute worst. I'm not sure why I started commenting on a handful of blogs again lately, but your post has made me decide to stop for a while...I can see some old, bad patterns re-emerging.

I suppose this is all a long and pretentious way of saying that I tend to become a jerk on the internet, and no good can come of that.

Goggla said...

I make it a point to take Fridays off (work, responsibilities) as often as possible. It does wonders for the mind and body. I'd hate to think the blog is dragging you down. Better to spend time relaxing and enjoying yourself.

esquared said...

Well, as long as you won't be spending Fridays at TGIF.

Recently took a break from the internet for a brain system maintenance, and it was quite refreshing.

Posted this link before, but will quote from it again, nonetheless...

As we are drained of our “inner repertory of dense cultural inheritance,”, we risk turning into “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/

Michael Simmons said...

Speaking for myself, NOTHING is better than it was in September, 1999 and before. That was the last month before I became internetted.

Human beings are marks and love flashing lights and bells and whistles. Meanwhile wars rage on, the country lurches rightward, and New York continues to be yunnified.

Take Friday off, you deserve it. And thank you for Monday through Thursday.

nygrump said...

it could be the internet but it could also be a toxic reaction to the overwhelming amount of electromagnetic pollution in the environment, the powerful layers of wifi and cell phone microwaves and leakage from machines are unnatural. ELM pollution symptoms include confusion, illness, anxiety, loss of concentration...

Grand St. said...

Thanks for answering, Jeremiah. Needless to say, I enjoy your FB activity as well.

I laughed at the idea of "fir[ing] up the Grumbler," as if it were a vintage 1970s AMC automobile.

Crazy Eddie said...

Yeah, and soon it will be M-W. Who the f’**k do you think you are, Howard Stern? Without you, EV Grieve and Marty, I would have gone postal a long time ago.

Dane Vannatter said...

Now this hurts

laura said...

"J" i always thought about this. 5 days was ok but not necessary. i was afraid you would throw out the baby w/the bathwater. 4 days is good for now. you can always do monday tuesday wensday. & then a "surprise friday" occasionally. i like a few days in a row, the continuity. do not give it up, you just need more balance in your life. then you will look foward to the blog.

mch said...

It's one thing to comment. We your readers can read, and maybe comment, when and as we feel like it. Our lives go and come on, and we can let days and weeks go by when we don't visit favorite sites. When I get away from what has become my overly involved internet site visiting, I feel wonderfully refreshed. How much you (like so many) must need to disengage from this world for which you've taken special responsibility.

As an academic who gets those sabbaticals, I realized years ago that every job should have some kind of leave calendar. And between leaves, some periods where you kind of withdraw for a while from the thickest of the thick of it. So, go for it.

Jeremiah Moss said...

a sabbatical sounds good. i envy people who leave NYC for extended periods, then come back with fresh eyes loving the city again.

yesterday's TGIF hot wings were the next best thing!

onemorefoldedsunset said...

I sympathize. I was out of the country for ten days, & at first I was desperate about not having a laptop with me to "check up" on things at home, or post trivially about something I'd done. As the days went by it became a huge relief to switch off from that world, & now I'm back I'm definitely less wrapped up in spending so much time online. I hope this lasts!
Your work is so important & beautifully written - I'll be very happy to read it four days a week, & I hope this formula restores some peace of mind.
Thanks for all you do.

laura said...

"J" do what you need to do. just dont leave forever.

Jill said...

I kept my blog up pretty regularly for 5 years (I started in March 2006) and last Fall I really started hating it, feeling it a burden. I also got a little freaked when someone posted sick threats (to other bloggers also, not just me) but I was the only one who reported it (the DA took me seriously and tracked the guy down). But it killed some of the joy.

However it was easier for me, I wasn't doing a news-ish blog, so timliness never mattered. I've been posting rather infrequently the last few months, and I also don't read my personal email every day, the consequence of which only affected my mother, driving her nuts.

I have read more books, watched more movies, gone out more with friends, gone to more theater and have felt more present in my life.

I think there might be a 5 year limit to such things, and I think the MWF idea is perfect. Stop the small filler and give us the big juicy stuff.

Your writing is great, your insights wonderful and you are funny as hell. I truly enjoy what you've done, and your interaction in the community banter has been enlightening. You've made a difference, started a conversation, and become a resource. Congragulations!

JakeGould said...

Jeremiah, I’m actually happy you posted this and have decided to slow down. I personally cannot follow your daily posts anymore because there are too many, too negative & tons of filler. I rely on others to share links to your work to follow your work anymore because it's too much right now.

I do admire your research work & deeper reporting, but I do not feel it has to be daily. That is the worst part of the blogger mentality. The posts are always dated. So can I make a suggestion that echoes others?

1) Be more of an editor & manager & not a writer.

2) Less frequent posts & only post stuff that is substantive. You do great work researching. That is your strength.

3) Use Facebook updates and maybe Twitter for important news that warrants attention but not a full post. You clearly have good instincts, but you should not be burdened by each item.

4) Start to seek out others to truly help. Like perhaps getting an intern or co-writer to ease the load. Again, you have great instincts but are buying yourself out.

Hope that helps!

Also, Mykola, I think we have all tolerated your self-indulgent "You should have seen what I did here!" posts for years. Now the person who has created this platform that has indirectly helped your self-promotion declares burnout and what do you do? Mock them? Seriously, Mykola. That’s obnoxious. How much do you or anyone here pay Jeremiah for doing this work? Zilch. Other than your self sense of entitlement.

Seriously get some respect for the people who would give you the time of day.

Rsl said...

one of the "regulars" does not understand the difference between reading many real books as opposed to internet. the computer has motion, lights etc. it is a strain on the nervous system. i do not sleep well if i am on a computer before bedtime. i wake up w/a hangover, exhaustion, confusion. reading a book is not taxing on my brain, even of i read for 2 hours also the temptation of the "web" is there, to just look @"one more thing"! too much electric computer is not healthy. jeremiah needs to look foward to posting, its not an office job!

Kurt said...

I like the sound of "firing up the Grumbler" too, but it suggests a covered barbeque to me, with the snap, crackle, pop of roasting meat (and plastic).

It's good you're looking out for your brain long-term -- the battle never ends, and you're needed.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Kurt. i was picturing a barbecue, too, somehow, but i like the idea of the AMC.

and thanks Jake--thing is, i enjoy the writing, so i wouldn't be happy as editor, but i just need to cut back on it. actually, the writing part is easy--it's all the checking (and checking and checking) in to the internet that drives my brain crazy.

Andrew Porter said...

I first did a news column in 1960, published a weekly from late 1966 to early 1968, then did a monthly magazine from 1979 until 2002, writing about 30,000 words a month. Nowadays I just send links and shorter articles out to people sometimes several times a day. But I tend to do more in the winter, when I can stay in all day. During the summer, I want to get out and enjoy the plants and sunlight. I can see that stepping back from daily blogging gives you a chance to reset, restore and renew your energy. And, to use my own cliché, every year I seem to get a year older.

Marco said...

My attention span is... what was that? I know what you mean. Cut back but don't bury NYC yet. Where am I going to go to get my NYC stories?

JakeGould said...

Jeremiah, then taken as a whole you are a masochist who enjoys beating yourself up which is why—although I like your coverage—I cannot stand to visit this blog anymore.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people do no like to admit, or to hear about what being online constantly is doing to our brains. It's basically eroding our ability to focus, concentrate and to have any sort of "deep thoughts". The signs are everywhere and it's evident in peoples behavior, especially those who cannot "get off their phones". Read 'Distracted: The Erosion Of Attention And The Coming Dark Age' by Maggie Jackson. By "Dark Age", she is referring a decline in literacy, which has previously happened in history, after a "boom" of technology, and it's where we are definitely heading now.

laura said...

this is a very interesting conversation. especially the last comment. maybe later "J" can take it to the "grumbler". after all this compulsive syndrome has infected the world & new york. i know we had something similar on grumbler before. maybe we need this again? after reading comments saturday night (& god only knows what else i looked @, see? cant remember), i woke sunday & said ok its time for books. read a magazine to get started (15 mins). looked @ hotmail 1st (3 minutes), then weather (2 minutes), then cruised 2 forums. @ that point i saw it was going past 20 minutes! (forums not important, just a "habit"). shut off laptop, read for 1 hour, then took short walk, later a longer walk. no more computer untill 7pm: watched full documentry film (youtube), which i REMEMBER, thank you very much. (surfing no BS). & a few related short vids. i am now re constructing my habits. funny, cell phone was never a problem, but this internet thing for has potential to grow like a monster. deleted some of my "bookmarks" & am excited to return to real books! btw, we dont know what these "screens" can do to us do we?? ok all that can be answered on grumbler. have a good night.

DrBOP said...

Mistah Jeremiah.....do WHATEVER you have to do.....cut it back to twice a week.....hell, go for ONCE a week......WE CAN"T LOSE YOU !!!!!

The only solution that I have found for what ails you is to SUPER-refine what one looks at on the net.....get to what is ESSENTIAL and discard the rest.....difficult to do, I know, when we are all interested in all, and/or obsessed with something (i.e., saving old NYC for example :+)))
I prescribe a month in Jamaica....with NO LAPTOP. Love 'ya!