1. Decreasingly right-wing gay Catholic media gadfly Andrew Sullivan has penned a thoughtful, engaging piece for New York Magazine going over some of the darker aspects of his experiences with social media over the years. I found it sufficiently reminiscent of my own experiences to be troubled by it, and to want to share it with you, the few dozen people who read this blog on a regular basis, because I think y'all might get something out of it. Sullivan begins:
I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate. I duly surrendered my little device, only to feel a sudden pang of panic on my way back to my seat. If it hadn’t been for everyone staring at me, I might have turned around immediately and asked for it back. But I didn’t. I knew why I’d come here.
A year before, like many addicts, I had sensed a personal crash coming. For a decade and a half, I’d been a web obsessive, publishing blog posts multiple times a day, seven days a week, and ultimately corralling a team that curated the web every 20 minutes during peak hours. Each morning began with a full immersion in the stream of internet consciousness and news, jumping from site to site, tweet to tweet, breaking news story to hottest take, scanning countless images and videos, catching up with multiple memes. Throughout the day, I’d cough up an insight or an argument or a joke about what had just occurred or what was happening right now. And at times, as events took over, I’d spend weeks manically grabbing every tiny scrap of a developing story in order to fuse them into a narrative in real time. I was in an unending dialogue with readers who were caviling, praising, booing, correcting. My brain had never been so occupied so insistently by so many different subjects and in so public a way for so long.
I was, in other words, a very early adopter of what we might now call living-in-the-web. And as the years went by, I realized I was no longer alone. Facebook soon gave everyone the equivalent of their own blog and their own audience. More and more people got a smartphone — connecting them instantly to a deluge of febrile content, forcing them to cull and absorb and assimilate the online torrent as relentlessly as I had once. Twitter emerged as a form of instant blogging of microthoughts. Users were as addicted to the feedback as I had long been — and even more prolific. Then the apps descended, like the rain, to inundate what was left of our free time. It was ubiquitous now, this virtual living, this never-stopping, this always-updating. I remember when I decided to raise the ante on my blog in 2007 and update every half-hour or so, and my editor looked at me as if I were insane. But the insanity was now banality; the once-unimaginable pace of the professional blogger was now the default for everyone.
If the internet killed you, I used to joke, then I would be the first to find out. Years later, the joke was running thin. In the last year of my blogging life, my health began to give out. Four bronchial infections in 12 months had become progressively harder to kick. Vacations, such as they were, had become mere opportunities for sleep. My dreams were filled with the snippets of code I used each day to update the site. My friendships had atrophied as my time away from the web dwindled. My doctor, dispensing one more course of antibiotics, finally laid it on the line: “Did you really survive HIV to die of the web?”Continue reading at New York Magazine.
2. Let's go ahead and give this edition of the Daily Dirt Diaspora's Suggested Reading List a decidedly schizophrenic bent by having our second offering highlight something absolutely wonderful about new media and the internet: namely that we live at a time when wisdom such as that which Terence McKenna had to offer can be shared freely with whoever wants to hear it. Listen to this substantial, substantive podcast in order to hear one of the great teachers of our beleaguered age tell you such things as:
What psychedelics are about is deconditioning all of these culturally induced, sensory biases and ideological biases, basically it reshuffles the intellectual and sensory deck. And it’s a wonderful, salutary thing to come along for Western culture at this moment because we’re basically running out of intellectual steam. Technology is moving ahead lickety split without looking over its shoulder, but our social systems, our religious ontologies, our theories of polity, city planning, community, resource sharing, all of this is 19th Century at best. And so, really whether we live or perish as a species probably has to do with how much consciousness we can raise from any source available.And this:
If consciousness is not part of our future then what kind of future can it be?And this:
Culture is an intelligence test.And also this:
I like to think that the psychedelic community has always been a source of visionary common sense because the psychedelic community, generally speaking, has not generated ideology.And, finally, a bit of hope at this horrifying time in our history:
I think primates are most interesting when cornered.Let's hope he's right about that. Listen to the podcast for tons more provocative, enlightening statements and interactions with his live studio audience. Then go out and listen to more McKenna podcasts, watch his videos, and read his goddamn books. He was a real treasure, and we lost him far too soon.
3. Guess who's back? Yes friends, that's right... outspoken liberal rage-monster Keith Olbermann has returned from exile after being fired from the ostensibly "liberal" MSNBC while at the top of that organ's ratings - the same fate that befell fellow progressive Phil Donahue, interestingly enough - this time, as a "special correspondent" for GQ Magazine's online multi-media platform. And his debut video is a fuckin' doozy. I sure dug it, in all its overblown, semi-exaggerated, and yet still all-too-horrifyingly-true glory, and I imagine most of you will appreciate it, too.