Newspapers taught us that something changes everyday. Radio taught us things change during the day. TV taught us things are always changing. And the internet teaches me I’m the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on right now.
I’ve developed a habit of checking my email and other online accounts hundreds of times an hour. Five minutes seems eternity because, who knows, maybe someone has answered my urgent inquiry about reimbursal for a taxi ride two weeks ago or located my lost pen cap. Perhaps another person in a group of people has viewed my profile on LinkedIn or written something witty about my distressed status on Facebook. Those cat pictures are really funny.
Someone may have answered my comment on that blog or have visited me here and liked what I wrote.
If people don’t like me, I start to feel lost, and, when my accounts remain empty or inactive, I begin to worry—what if everyone is away reading news of a cataclysmic event… or a campaign gaffe… or some celebrity misstep? Think of everything I’m missing writing this post right now and what you’re missing by reading it. I hope you have another window open and the sound unmuted.
I read recently somewhere that finding notifications online stimulates the brain just as game stimulated early human brains. I don’t remember where I encountered that piece of information—because so very much has happened since then—but it makes sense. I look for flags and numbers in precisely the same way I’d look for rabbits were I preternaturally hungry. Shifting my gaze from warren to warren, my heart palpitates in hope of catching one pair of eyes or ears, one subtle shift in the beige-brown background signaling something there to consume.
We’re all looking, and if no game appears, we have each others’ reports of game. You can rest assured someone has seen something somewhere and will let you know. Many of the reports I receive in email tell me about information elsewhere. I click on them, and they whisk me to new vistas. Click there, and I’m transported again. It’s doubly satisfying when something changes and your email changes to alert you to that change. You can open layers of layers of curtains before you spy the stage. And, even if what you encounter is a spot-lit bean on a broken stool, at least getting there was dramatic.
Please pardon my scattered thoughts. My attention span is shot. I can’t tell distraction from devotion and vital from new. Every task deserves interruption—if you even call them interruptions. Really they are messages from another source, one of the many sources we are so very lucky to access every second of every day in this modern technological marvel of a world. We can learn anything, we can know everything (or access anything known), and, if someone will only send me a text or tweet or email me where to look, I can get on that right away.
But, actually, maybe not now. An icon is leaping like a terrier at the edge of my sight. Some program needs updating, and if I don’t do it immediately, I may lose you forever.