Ben Payne (benpayne) wrote,
Ben Payne

Slight Return

I just discovered the last time I blogged here was in August.

Part of the reason for that was that I have been, as many of you know, a-travelling. More about that in another post, some time.

While we were still connected overseas, I spent a lot less time online, and it was just what I needed in terms of getting some headspace. While I love the online world, and some of my best friends are internets, I have to admit that sometimes it gets me down, and I feel that its critics have a point when they argue that the internet creates the illusion of closeness to a lot of people, while actually often making us more distant and alone.

It's certainly true that we tend to be much more judgemental of one another online, and the self-righteousness with which we criticise others is amplified. I don't think the internet creates that tendency; it's too common in everyday life. But it certainly seems to encourage herd mentality and sharp divisions.

I've been reading a few books lately about slowing down our thinking, giving ourselves the space to think deeply, and to allow ourselves to do nothing, and how valuable that is. Sometimes it's easy to drown in a sea of input, and the internet certainly contributes to that possibility. We can become mired in shallow thoughts and feelings, not giving ourselves the time and space to think against the grain.

I've certainly been guilty of seeping myself in input, of taking on too many things, until every moment of my day is allocated. I've tried to reduce that by dropping projects, but often I've simply replaced them with other, less obvious ones. Or filled my time with reading, with watching good tv shows, with all the myriad forms of culture that I want to imbibe, but which I can never, no matter how I struggle, keep up with or get through. The result is just more of the same, drowning in input, filling up with immediate reactions, and not having any time to step back, to allow the thoughts and feelings to percolate and bubble around the bowl.

I don't want to create a false dichotomy between online and offline life. It's just as possible to live offline the same way, full of busyness and surface level experiences and lacking in space.

And online life still offers a lot of potential. I think we just need to work out the best ways to make it work for us.

So being away helped put some distance between me and all the stupid internet wars and hate-ons. It made me realise how stupid all of that side of things is, how little it matters in the wider world.

But more than that, it gave me some space to sit and just be. And I found myself thinking deeper… not necessarily intelligent or interesting thoughts… but deeper in some way all the same.

I found myself wondering if the reason I've struggled to put metaphorical pen to paper in recent times, to create anything either fictional or non-fictional that I was happy with, was due to the fact that I was too busy trying to fill my time with worthwhile endeavours, with reading great books and watching great films and chatting to interesting people, that I hadn't left myself any room, any place for thoughts to gestate or emerge.

I don't know what the answer is, exactly. It's a thought progression in progress. But I know that I am looking to put more space, more nothing time, into my life to just be. To allow myself to think again, to step back from it all and look with fresh eyes.

Because sometimes in trying to live, to consume, to cram it all in, we miss something important about what living really means.


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