They’re playing baseball in McCarren park and I am immediately hit with the dusty smell of my childhood: dirty gloves, pebbles in bat bags, the tawny stains of decomposed granite on any fabric that would take it. How wonderful it was to be on that field. No distraction from the task at hand. No thoughts beyond trying to not look like the worst girl on the team. Life extended no further than your mitt. One thing at a time. That’s all.
These days, I often feel like I am sitting in front of a wretchedly large menu—something that would put Cheesecake Factory to shame—page upon page of ridiculous items, all of it a bunch of useless, un-nutritional fluff, all white bread and refined sugar, little nuggets of otherwise healthful things buried unseen and ignored amongst the garbage. Quickly, the ravenous appetite you came to the table with has all but disappeared. You don’t want any of it—not the good stuff or the bad stuff. You want nothing.
Yes, I have reached Peak Internet. All I want to do is move into a barn with no WiFi to write bad poetry books on velum paper that will nary see the light of day. This the life I want. I want life like it was in the 1800s. Or if that can’t be accomplished, 1988 will do just fine. No pagers, no cell phones, no Steve Jobs.
I was at a party recently, where a woman a bit older than myself waxed philosophical about “kids these days” and their reverence for nothing, their tendency to rip things apart from a perch of superficial understanding. There is no longer depth of argument, because, in life post-Internet, we are not required to know anything beyond the surface; it does nothing for you but slow you down in an environment where speed is king, where taking the time to proverbially proof-read and fact check feels like pumping needless brakes on a Mack truck.
But you do need the brakes.
I feel ever the more inflicted with this sort of vaguely curatorial, superficial knowledge of everything. Unsubstantial. A hollowed-out paperweight with no real purpose, a book with a gilded cover and blank pages. Do you remember memorizing lyrics to songs? Whole songs? I remember every line from Fiona Apple’s first two albums, both of which were released in the ‘90s, back when I used to digest albums in their entirety, listening over and over again until they owned a piece of me. Then everything went digital, sold a la carte at the expense of an artist’s vision… and my attention span. I have 6,023 songs on my computer. I probably know 6% of the lyrics and could immediately recognize 56% of the artists.
Hemingway would have hated the Internet. Then again, I really don’t know enough about Hemingway to comment because I don’t have the time to actually invest in him as an author aside from the occasional poolside read and a vague awareness of time spent in Cuba and an affinity for gin. This is but a small example of what the Internet has done to my brain.
Every morning I open up my inbox to a deluge of emails. The second I open my eyes the world offers an assault on my senses: discussions about Kate Middleton’s skirt yesterday, how to get better abs, some Kardashian did whatever. Every time I turn on my computer, I feel this compulsory urge to scream, “WHO CARES?!” Of late, everything I’m presented with seems to have become meaningless, watered down, a world of base understanding and “OMG”, “LOL”, and cat GIFs. It is a flood in which you begin to drown. Too much for too little, when the little should be more.
All I want is something simple. A baseball field and the sting of a fresh raspberry on my knee. Something real and in my hands.