We don’t have less time than ever; on the contrary, life expectancy has steadily increased. What we have, at this latest point so far in human history, is more of so much else—more people, more books, more cultural products of every kind, in addition to the staggering volume of online content. We feel ever more acutely the mismatch between available time and all the possible ways we could spend it. ... And yet, despite the ostensible constant novelty—new information, new communication, new techno-toys—there is a numbing sameness to the experience of daily life for many of us. Too much of life is spent in the same essential way: clicking and typing and scrolling, liking and tweeting, assimilating the latest horrors from the news. And this relates back to the speed of time’s passage. True experiential variety, the social scientists tell us, is what gives life the feeling of passing more slowly—getting out of our routines, having adventures. It’s when the days pass by in a barely distinguishable blur that we look back and think, “Where did the time go?”
There's a lot of #firstworldproblems in that piece, and definitely in that excerpt, and also the sort of projection of one's own malaise into a general worldview that I've come to dislike (and not just because I see it myself and want to root it out when I do). But ... yes. There's just that much more to do, and I'm amazed at how much of it is such banal tail-chasing.
The other night I took an hour off (a WHOLE HOUR!!!) and sat back with a copy of some of Camus's early essays — a paper-bound edition, no less. After spending what felt like weeks in front of the computer, it was like a housebound man going to the shore and plunging into the surf. Maybe the big contrast print affords us is experiential, and not just technological. It felt different, and the words sunk in that much more. It was a poignant reminder that not everything in life happens in front of, or is committed to, a screen.
And then the next morning I got up and stared at a computer again. You can only get away from it all for so long before it catches back up with you.
That said, I've been trying to read more and scroll less. What with one of several possible future writing projects looming, I could use the headfood. The more off my beaten path(s), the better. (Small wonder I'm less interested in reading things labeled as SF; so much of it seems more interested in maintaining or protecting a label than in striking out into genuinely creative new territory....)
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind