The internet

Patricia Lockwood travels through the internet in “The Communal Mind,” first read aloud at an LRB lecture at the British Museum. I’m not sure how to describe this piece, and you may really love it or really hate it. But it’s really something.

SHOOT IT IN MY VEINS, we said, whenever the headline was too perfect, the juxtaposition too good to be true. SHOOT IT IN MY VEINS, we said, when the Flat Earth Society announced it had members all over the globe.

Horizontal reading in our digital age

While the ideas in it aren’t really new, I still enjoyed Mairead Small Staid’s essay in the Paris Review on reading in the digital age of distractions.

On the “heightened state brought on by a book”:

This state is threatened by the ever-sprawling internet—can the book’s promise of deeper presence entice us away from the instant gratification of likes and shares?

On the horizontal reading (surface skimming) of the internet, which is the opposite of diving into a book:

What I do when I look at Twitter is less akin to reading a book than to the encounter I have with a recipe’s instructions or the fine print of a receipt: I’m taking in information, not enlightenment. It’s a way to pass the time, not to live in it.

We know perfectly well—we remember, even if dimly, the inward state that satisfies more than our itching, clicking fingers—and we know it isn’t here. Here, on the internet, is a nowhere space, a shallow time. It is a flat and impenetrable surface. But with a book, we dive in; we are sucked in; we are immersed, body and soul.

Yelping Oakland’s underground past

Found this post on “Yelping Oakland’s past” via the “I raved in the San Francisco Bay Area in the ’90s” Facebook group (which is one of the only reasons I still have a Facebook account, tbh). I love this, thinking about the history of the warehouse rave scene in Oakland scattered about the internet in the form of Yelp reviews and whatnot. I immediately recall the sfraves list and other resources from back in the day… If I had any sort of motivation, I’d write more about this, but we all know I don’t!

Even before the post-Ghost Ship crackdown, sharing information online about underground party venues was generally frowned upon (don’t blow up the spot), so there’s a confounding irony in these faux pas surviving as the only bits of accessible information about these spaces. And while Yelp currently does not remove pages of “businesses” that have closed, it’s easy to imagine this policy changing. If it does, a whole slice of Oakland history would fade even further into obscurity.

Ready for spring

After going on trip after trip after trip, my husband and I always say we’ll stop traveling for a time, so as we entered 2017, we had clear, travel-free calendars through the spring. And then somehow, I agreed to go on a work trip to Salt Lake City last week. And in a few days, we’re driving up to Lake Tahoe for the holiday. Then I’m off to Nashville for a team meetup in April and then a bachelorette weekend for a dear friend in May. That takes us into early summer, when we’ll be off to the Mediterranean.

This is what a travel-free 2017 looks like. And I’m not complaining, but it’s just funny how traveling just happens. There is no need to plan.

* * *

I’m looking forward to spring — these Northern California storms and atmospheric rivers from the Pacific have been surprisingly severe, and while it’s great we’ve gotten so much rain in the past few months, Mother Nature has dumped it on us all at once. Part of a tree fell on our house during one of the first big storms in January so we had to fix a hole in our roof, and we also dug a temporary trench in our yard to divert floodwater from our neighbor’s property. Fortunately, though, our little lot has held up relatively OK compared to all the damage we’ve seen throughout Sonoma County, caused by massive flooding, downed trees, and mudslides.

I’ve started a few posts here and there over the past month that I’d abandoned — mainly about how we adopted two adorable cats last month, or anxiety over the state of the US and the world, or the familiar feeling of apathy in my “professional” life, and whatnot. It’s gotten harder to string sentences together for a blog post, and I’ve noticed I don’t feel that urge to share my thoughts — or my life — online, with both people I know and don’t know. When I sit down at my laptop to post something, whether on a blog or Facebook, it increasingly feels like I’m in a phony, forced moment — like I’m siphoning what’s left of my thoughts, and the words that appear on paper are residual.

I have never really felt this way with Instagram, where I post regularly, which — I suppose — is a testament to its instantness. But even there I find my habits evolving — growing bored with pretty travel and tiny house snapshots and opening up to sharing simple moments around the house and during my week. Perhaps those more frequent mundane shots are a way to fill in the holes created by my thinned blogging presence, I don’t know.

Advice

  1. I’m a new blogger, give me advice
  2. Read my blog and give me advice
  3. I like your blog, tell me what do to make my blog like yours
  4. Feature me, I deserve it
  5. Come to my blog and leave comments
  6. Read my essay and give me notes
  7. Mentor me and show me step-by-step what to do
  8. That post was cool, now read mine and like it

A piece of advice: when you reach out to someone online, especially via email, think about how you’d expect or want to be treated, how you’d like the conversation to go, in person. Would you go up to someone on the street and demand something from them if you didn’t know them? Wouldn’t you try to introduce yourself first? Tell them where you’re coming from? Offer some context?

I’ve stopped responding to emails that lack any thought or consideration. In the past, I’ve offered feedback to people because they’ve reached out as new bloggers — which is totally fine — but sometimes I’ve spent five minutes, fifteen minutes, sometimes over an hour offering feedback to someone. And I never hear from them again. Not even a “hey, thanks.” Yet, even when I respond to messages that are focused and somewhat thoughtful, the majority of the time I’ll never receive a reply either. I’m trying to understand why. Do people think I’m not actually a person? That I can magically generate blogging advice with the click of a button? That I’m somehow required to give you feedback?

Another piece of advice (and one I need to take from myself): Aim for less connections — and make those ones meaningful. It’s such a waste of everyone’s time — including yours — when you make blind and thoughtless requests.