Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Strung Out and Spread Thin

Originally posted on March 27, 2011

Perhaps I’m being a sort of "Cassandra here, shaking my tambourine and prophesying, but it must be said: “Overload!” The information explosion and media glut has arrived. We are in exponential times, with accelerating everything. The trickle became a creek, a stream, a river, a delta, a flood, an ocean, and a tsunami, all in the last few centuries. (I entered it when it was a river in the mid-20th century, and thought I could swim.)

It’s not easy saying no to any of this, because we arose from a whole culture that valued expansion and perceived contraction as defeat. Our whole economy is based on interest rates that demand expansion. “Sustainable” has become a word used in the last third of the 20th century, but seemingly only by unrealistic idealists. The reality, though, is that we have already hit overload, over-extension, trying to do and afford and encompass way too much. According to past conditioning, common sense, the mainstream discourse, this is due to weakness and personal failing. But those sources are wrong! They are oriented to a world at least a century in the past, when there were still seemingly unlimited natural resources and horizons—at least in the Americas. (Europe was already becoming exhausted.)

I am daring to speak not as a loser but as a winner—a high status, high-achieving, widely read person who knows now (although I have to fend off inner mosquito-voices) that I can’t begin to keep up with all that should be known, should be done, all the battles that should be fought, all the worthy causes that should be supported. For about the last decade I’ve been hearing neighbors and friends say things like, “Sorry, my plate is full.” Wonderful line.

I’m in a phase of slight annoyance at distractions and seductions. The other day I saw a new big ol’ television screen in bright colors and a three-dimensional capability (wearing special glasses) and it was sooo seductive. Oh, my, I could relax and spend some weeks or years being sucked into that vortex of fascinating stimulation. And I realized that computer-graphic games and movies are becoming so vivid and entrancing, and all sorts of other stimuli, too. If I twittered perhaps I could enjoy the experience of vicariously or symbolically (in my own mind) being read and known in the minds of scores or hundreds of others. Wow!  Even this blog partakes of this subtle form of ego-expansion in the world.

So I’ll speak more on this topic as time goes on. It’s fascinating and revolutionary: Time to pull back, re-prioritize, focus, accept that it’s really enough to do what I can do without getting strung out and spread thin.

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