Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Don't Re-Elect the Internet

"I’ve never had any luck with publishing companies. Nobody has, really—discounting the handful of Famous Bestselling Authors you read about in the NYT. It occurred to me, a few weeks ago, that I personally know about forty people who have sold books to big or medium-sized publishers, and their experiences are all the same: Long after you’ve written it and long after you’ve spent the advance on food and rent, a forgotten little bundle of words with an inscrutable cover is released in the night, you might do a few readings in empty Barnes & Noble stores on a weekday, and then four or five years later you still can’t get a simple accounting record. Very few writers will mourn the end of the New York Publishing Industry."
That's not the only notable quotable in this interview with Ken Layne. In fact there is another part so good that, well, let's read on! It's about finding out whether you're better off without the Internet.

We have a remarkable ability to know exactly what things we’re doing are harmful to us …. and then we keep doing those things, until we decide to stop.

For anyone who feels this Internet emptiness chewing at them, I would say, do a little test. Go outside and take a 15-minute walk — around the block, through the park, just a short walk. While you’re doing this, clear your mind of work and of home. Just look at things, birds and cars and trees and the clouds and buildings and dumpsters, and when you think of something internal just say “thinking” to yourself and go back to walking and breathing. Then return to your computer. Do the usual things you do on your computer, like check the news and your email and the blogs you read and whatever people post on Facebook and Twitter.

Do this second part, the computer-looking-at, for just 15 minutes. You can set one of those web timers… hang on, I have one in my bookmarks.

When this stopwatch beeps, honestly ask yourself how you feel. Compare this to how you felt at the end of your 15-minute walk. Ask yourself what, if anything, you learned during those 15 minutes of wasting time on the Internet. Did it help you in some way? Are you better off? This is a question often asked by political challengers: Are you better off than __ years ago? Well, are you better off than fifteen minutes ago? If not, don’t re-elect the Internet.


18 Comments / Post A Comment

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Yeah, this is definitely the meme of the moment, along with Harry Frankfurt's subject and low-rise underwear ads. Serious now. Something is suggesting to a lot of people at once that the dusty path to full-on cyborging is creepy.

kryz (#311)

Your picture selection skillz are almost Drudgesque.

soco (#8,225)

I could set up the same experiment with hot wings and a walk. Walks are nice and all, but hot wings are also really nice (and I like even better). So therefore, I must not re-elect walks and instead consume wings.

Or I could just try to live a balanced life where I enjoy walks and hot wings (though probably not at the same time).

KarenUhOh (#19)

Walking pays better.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

I have actually forced myself to succeed at this on a daily basis, a number of times. Inevitably though, during my stroll, I find myself pondering my next move for when I get back in front of the internet. By that time, of course, the internet has moved on to new topics of interest and I am forced to catch up.

-slashes wrists with coke tab-

I really liked Ken Layne's stuff on Wonkette! But the past few months I definitely thought "Man, I hope he can get away from this soon because the whole endless pointlessness of politics is clearly getting to him" after reading a few posts. So, yay for him!

ogradybt (#3,914)

@antarcticastartshere I've definitely noticed the change in tone too. I was actually worried he was kind of depressed, but it seems more like he's disengaged from the whole mess. Good for him. Pretending to be cynical can make you cynical.

Next try this: Go to a filthy and dilapidated former movie palace somewhere in Shitville. Spend $6 and stick around through 45 minutes of sad ass porn. Now go home, power up your Lenovo and tune into 6 minutes of high def at blowjobtopia.com. Are you better off now than _ years ago?

HiredGoons (#603)

Was this post sponsored by the Highline?

Art Yucko (#1,321)

run, don't etc.

deepomega (#1,720)

So what am I supposed to do if the answer is "yes"?

heroofthebeach (#2,280)

@deepomega Yeah, I have no idea what internet emptiness is supposed to be. Whenever I'm out in the world, I just wish I could look stuff up more easily.

C_Webb (#855)

They told us not to watch so much teevee, and so we went and made an internet. If they tell us not to watch so much internet, who knows what we'll make next?

You know, it kind of makes a difference what neighborhood you do this in, white boy.

NinetyNine (#98)

They like to make "And that's when I clicked close tab" jokes, generally.

areaderwrites (#592)

Man, I still miss Sploid. I can't look at a photo of Benedict XVI without thinking "Nazi Pope."

Matt (#26)


everything he said above about book publishing is probably true. But does it make me a bad person to get a certain melancholy delight in the idea of reading from my book in a half empty Barnes and Noble on a weekday?

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