2018-10-31 Stretched Thin

These days, I feel like Gollum when he told Frodo how he felt stretched thin. I talked to a friend about it. Being tired in the evening so you don’t sleep but you don’t live, either. You sit. You scroll. You read the newspaper and other garbage. Or maybe you watch TV and YouTube. In silence, alone together. Time passes. Dinner is done. It is not time to sleep, yet, but it’s also too late for something creative. You’re not going to get your musical instrument, your pen, your brush, your typewriter or your text editor. Instead, you’re browsing, and waiting, and life passes you by.

Recently @hcs linked to The Power of Shutting up and Sitting in Silence. I liked the author’s style:

In line for breakfast, shuffling in my socks on linoleum floors in the cafeteria for tea and oatmeal, it occurred to me I had no choices to make; I was completely surrounded by people, but I didn’t have to deal with them one bit. It was not being alone, exactly: It was more just like not being at all. And it suited me.

I relate to many things in her essay. Life passing us by. Mortality creeping closer. Loving the daily minutiae and still wanting to let go. Wanting to understand the world but seething with anger and hate and despair when you do.

I have no answers, though. Perhaps I should just sit in silence for a bit.

Strangely related: this review of a phone. The Google Pixel 3 Is A Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far.

This is a great phone. I highly recommend it. But it’s no longer totally clear to me that the information systems we’ve built to help us navigate life are net beneficial to society. I mean, I think they are. But, Jesus. Jesus. What’s happening to us?

Indeed. What is this?

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Comments

Life is what you do while waiting for something interesting to happen...

I can relate to your feelings, but still you have to get up and do something - start a new hobby, try to meet new people. I took up piano lessons one year ago and I am loving it! A completely new world of learning and mental challenges is opening up.

Smartphones and social media are a wasteful addiction.

– Peter 2018-10-31 21:01 UTC


I recently read Bertrand Russell’s In Praise of Idleness; This along with reading books on Stoicism has helped center me.

There’s a rallying cry for Bowing Out amongst a corner of the blog-o-sphere.

Jeremy Friesen 2018-10-31 23:42 UTC


Maybe it is simply the lack of sunlight. I was speculating with a friend that maybe it was a subtle effect of age catching up: you still want to do as much, you still do as much, but at the end of the day you’re more tired. So sadly you suffer the effect when you get home, after a day of work.

Personally, I don’t think social media is the culprit. It’s the only thing left to do at very low energy levels, and those have other reasons. Lack of time. Too short to start any project-like thing. I really don’t blame social media itself. It’s the symptom, not the cause.

Perhaps I feel it more acutely because I’m usually busy with things I love. For now, I decided to read less news, and to actively pick something to do or type or read when I switch on a computer. I’d rather go to bed an hour early with a notepad nearby. That’s what I did before yesterday evening and I immediately felt much better. And yesterday I met a friend and it was very good. And when I came home and opened the laptop, I was happy to chat on social media and fix a bug in a project of mine, and then I closed its lid instead of scrolling forever, because I was feeling good and had achieved something. I was happy.

So that’s my conclusion: if I have more energy I will do more things: meet people, fix bugs, and that’s what helps. If I have less energy, I should focus on getting more sleep instead of whiling away the time. No matter how time is wasted, it is still wasted.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-01 07:44 UTC


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