I see our local raven across the street in the neighbors' driveway. He is cawing and eyeing a nice piece of aluminum foil. Something shiny and new for his nest.
I watch him through the living room window as I sip my morning espresso, alternating my gaze between this solitary creature's glee and my daily internet. I come across this essay and bookmark it for later.
We become involuntary bricoleurs, scrambling to cobble together an ad hoc identity from whatever memes happen to be relevant at the time.I read Facebook, check Twitter, and start writing a blog entry for both myself and my has-been rock star friend. I am pretty sure only about 5 people read these things. But I write anyhow, and feel bad when I don't. I think it's like a journal - it has more value for me years later, to go back and read and remember who I was then, what seemed important, and see how that compares to the present moment.
The raven caws. I look at the clock. It's after 8 now. I need to get cleaned up and get to the music factory. I have a great job. I wonder how long it can last.
social media hope to convince us that we always have something new and important to say—as long as we say it right away. And they are designed to make us feel anxious and left out if we don’t say it,8:30 am. I think of all the things I've had to spend money on in the past week, all the things I've chosen to spend money on, and the giant, unending list of errands and things I should do.
I clean all the dishes in the kitchen while NPR gently tells me about how fucked up everything is. I gear up and motorcycle to work, parking in the secret locations I've found near the office where I don't have to pay.
it’s plausible that all other sorts of immersive knowledge by which we might invest our identity with meaning will become subordinate to the practice of clever sign manipulation, to adeptly choosing material and affixing it to one’s persona online12:30 I'll have lunch with a friend. Talk about work. Get fired up about things we can do, projects for fun or profit or career enhancement or what is even the difference anymore? Food is good and I'm all charged up. I can spend the afternoon tracking bugs and banging on wireframes and inventing something good.
My iPod shuffles and Peter Murphy howls in a song called "Too Much 21st Century".
Too much selfish4:00 pm. I'm looking forward to going home and practicing fretless bass. I'm starting to get halfway decent on it and I love the challenging simplicity of the thing. My regular bass seems weird now with frets all over it. I'm cooking up some ideas for a new record along with my other multiple albums-in-progress.
Too much fake
Too much computer
Too much to take
The personal brand, in its concatenation of fame hunger and dismal self-exploitation, is the evolutionary end point of a tendency implicit in fashion6:20 pm. I am the last one to leave the office. I close up the windows and contemplate vacuuming the floor. I'd rather just get out of here. I fight my way through the crowd of people streaming towards the stadium to watch the Giants play.
I find my motorcycle and ride back home, weaving through traffic, tired and trying to be lost in thought while concentrating on not getting killed by drivers texting at 80 mph. I'm good about leaving work at work, as long as you don't count reading and responding to e-mails or thinking about things or talking about things "work".
7:30 pm. I make modest efforts to help prepare dinner. My strengths here lie in clean-up or in operating telephones generally, but I can open wine pretty well. This bottle is tasty. Probably a wine club selection.
10:00 pm. I try to stretch out my crunched spine and de-knot my leg muscles on a ball and roller. I feel the vertebrae shift and click and the knots in my legs thump as I roll over them again and again.
he encourages us to ask ourselves, “What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about?” and “What do I do that I am most proud of?” and then promptly put these achievements up for sale, inviting capitalists to exploit them. He admonishes that we must be eternally vigilant about our personal brand11:30 pm. I think about what I did today, what I must do tomorrow. Am I getting better or worse? Smarter? Slower? More patient? Am I a better human today than I was yesterday? Last year? In my 30s?
such bald self-promotion as one typically encounters on Twitter and Facebook would have been in questionable taste, and the idea of explicitly leveraging one’s network of friends in order to maximize one’s notoriety would have seemed preposterously alienatingSo much of what I look at online now and much of what fills my inbox is a kind of meta-content. It's mostly links to things, which are in turn links to other things. A friend forwards me an e-mail he got from someone who saw a YouTube video on Facebook. The YouTube video is a "supercut" of some other program. All of these various elements and how they are transmitted are signifiers, stacked up, towering, awaiting a response, preferably blasted out on all channels.
I don't care about this stuff. I care about the friend I had lunch with, the people in my band. My wife. Real contact with a real person.
I think about that raven I saw this morning, picking at that shiny foil this morning. It's not really going to help him at all, but he can't stop himself from liking it and wanting it and taking it home.
It's after midnight now. I close the computer, turn off the lights, and get in bed. Alarm will be going off in less than 6 hours. Another day.