The Frontal Cortex


Apologies for the radio silence – I’ve been on vacation. This time, I actually tried to stay away from the internet while away. My online withdrawal period actually went though several distinct psychological stages. (And yes, I know such stages don’t actually exist.) At first, I experienced a weird, existential anxiety – what if the world was about to end, or some cataclysm just occurred, and I didn’t know about it? Shouldn’t I peek at the Drudge? Then came acceptance: I was merely vacationing in the world circa 2002, before smartphones and twitter and online news alerts. I made it through 2002, didn’t I? Finally, there was euphoria, the sweet release of not being tethered to a virtual universe of email, political blogs and google. Alas, no sooner had I achieved a Thoreau-style acceptance of life in the wilderness then my vacation was over. And so here I am.

Needless to say, there is something very ironic about the way we’ve come to define “disconnected”. For the first few days of my vacation, I felt “disconnected” from the world, solely because I wasn’t checking my inbox every five minutes. But this connection is entirely virtual! What we’ve forgotten is that being “connected” to the online universe comes with a cost: we’re actually more disconnected from the actual world. We’re not noticing our surroundings because we’re busy tapping out a text, or worrying about that unanswered email, or fretting over the latest Ohio poll numbers. We’re “connected,” but connected to what?


  1. #1 jb
    October 23, 2008

    Welcome back! Hope you took your own advice and while exercising self control and not responding to the urge to go online, you were able to relax body and mind and come up with some good insights about future writing projects. I’m off to xerox the “Eureka Hunt” article and some word Jumbles for a “Back To Square One” talk tonight. Thanks for the two offerings today!

  2. #2 Shannon Murphy
    October 23, 2008

    Ok wait–judging by your posting dates you were on vacation for two DAYS? And you’re experiencing this?

    I was about to laugh at you and then realized that I can’t remember the last time I was offline for two days. It must have been…camping? Something? No clue. I was at an Obama rally for an entire day recently, and had to stay up late returning emails. Ack.

  3. #3 Rachael
    October 23, 2008

    The internet is an addiction like any other, and when you get rid of the “drug”… well, freedom is a powerful feeling!

  4. #4 jonah
    October 25, 2008

    For the record, I was offline for 7 days, which is still pretty pitiful now that I think about it. I scheduled some posts ahead of time.

  5. #5 Baby
    October 25, 2008

    Welcome back, as an avid reader I’m glad that I’m getting my regular fix of reading your blog 🙂

  6. #6 lee pirozzi
    October 27, 2008

    I’ve decided it is unhealthy in influencing our daily observations, and unless I am avidly researching something for art, I try to take five day sabbaticals from this beckoning box. Living without other’s opinions is like taking a butterfly’s roam through the garden sometimes.

    Anyway I was imagining placebo good news on television for
    two weeks, and its effect on the economy. Would that we
    could harmlessly experiment with that idea. Instead I know that post-election, the real oil news will hit the media to fill in on the financial crisis. Sometimes I miss my children’s abandoning those colorful kid shows where the characters so safely remain the same.

  7. #7 Mark
    December 10, 2008

    If you consider something like literature, before the internet, was the story part of the “real world”? Was it discussed in public, face to face?

    Someone obsessed with reading might be considered a hermit — disassociated with more standard people milling about.

    Their focus was more upon the abstract, rather than the immediacy of a more visceral focus.

    I don’t really know if that is being connected, or disconnected from anything.

New comments have been disabled.