This comment from Bill Keller in the New York Times caught my eye:
In “The Uncoupling,” there is a wistful passage about the high-school cohort my daughter is about to join. Wolitzer describes them this way: “The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”
That description could apply to many more cohort groups than just high schoolers. Generally I’m not wired for jeremiads or lamentations of discontent, but it is reasonable to ask if all of us are suffering from contextually challenged information, from too much of the oleaginous spread without the hearty loaf, from cravings that still leave us feeling unsatisfied and undernourished.
On one level our Twitter feed and Facebook news are a customized news service. My partner David calls his Twitter connections his “readers”, grateful for how they flag articles he would never find if he were meandering the halls of cyberspace by himself. And that’s useful, without question.
But like a river that can just as easily carry pleasure boats as it can sewage, the constant flow of information (a term i use loosely) starts to resemble effluvia if you stay in it too long. Perhaps I should just make that a first person statement: The constant flow of information starts to resemble effluvia if I stay in it too long. Like the sage advice for dealing with a difficult family member, the secret seems to be this: Limit your exposure.
While my online persona gets much less time than my other more important selves, I still look forward to extended breaks when I get to check out of all my obligations. These sojourns are my own “limit your exposure” control system.
So I’m off for a week, this time to Utah. I’ll be back, refreshed and ready to replunge, re-engage, reconnect.