Add to Technorati Favorites Janette Griffiths: My internet addiction - one woman's true and terrifying tale

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

My internet addiction - one woman's true and terrifying tale

Neuroscientist, Baroness Susan Greenfield, has expressed concern that 'screen culture' will change the physiological make-up of our brains. Long hours of jumping from one site to another, poking people on Facebook and Twittering at anyone you fancy could lead, she predicted, to internet-induced ADHD.

I like to think that as a middle-aged novelist, I’m too mature and sensible, too much of a mental marathon runner to go sprinting around the internet. But like a lot of the planet, I do spend most of the day and a lot of the night dangling at the end of that thousand miles long umbilical cord that links me to the Google HQ in Mountain View, California. Where I used to work alone with just the sound of real letters dropping on to the doormat, I now sit with the equivalent of a great encyclopaedia at wrist-length. And I can't stop leafing through the bloody thing.

Last night I tried to break away and watch a DVD of “Wall-E”. Watching a film would once have been a pleasure in itself. Go to cinema, watch film, go home. The pleasure remains but these days, I feel compelled to find out who wrote it, directed it, who they married, what their zodiac sign is, whether they suffer from IBS or ever won a trophy for ice dancing. Once I know everything I never needed to know the guys behind Wall-E (bowels in fine fettle ) I’m off again happily rummaging around google. Feeling a bit hungry after the movie so the first hit in last night’s google history is:
A recipe for red lentil soup in the New York Times. No red lentils so wander over
to some Arkansas woman’s recipe for butternut squash soup. She’s a sneaky evangelist and wants me to think about Jesus while I chop my onions so I head instead to:
Listen Again on Radio 4 where Melvyn Bragg and Steve Jones are talking about Darwin. At one point Jones mentions the powerful role of the earthworm so I drop my squash and go back to google:
On subject of worms, why is Wormwood Scrubs prison  called Wormwood Scrubs? Still don’t know. Feel let down by Wikipedia and thought of grim London prison a bit depressing so:
Download happy Merengue music from iTunes.
Look up how to make meringues. Whoops! Spelling mistake that because, of course, I want to learn:
"How to Dance the Merengue" - foot positions diagrams displayed on website.
Couldn't cope with foot position diagrams so go to YouTube video: "How to dance the Merengue." Dance happily along for all of ten minutes with Youtube's Ricardo or Enrique then:
Look up favorite old Steve Martin movie, My Blue Heaven - features great Merengue dancing with Rick Moranes
Look up Steve Martin’s age. How come he not worn out by Merengue when I exhausted?
Squash soup boiled over while dancing so look up “Soup boiled is a soup spoiled - is this true?” under proverbs and old wive’s tales which leads to:
Discussion of cliches on Stephen Fry’s "English Delight "- some other radio thing with him talking about language. Can’t actually LISTEN - too busy dancing but Fry is
twittering, “a kakapoo shagged my leg.” With non-merenguing hand, I read his Tweets because like everyone else on the planet, I want him to be my uncle. Apparently kakapoo currently in with more of a chance.
Fry’s site mentions his American series which leads me to stop dancing and ponder some of Obama’s baffling cabinet choices. I decide to drop in to see what:
Michael Moore has to say. He’s pissed off with choice of Surgeon General so I get pissed off too.
Surgeon General leads to deep thoughts on science/politics and back to Melvyn talking to biologist, Steve Jones. I confuse Steve Jones with Richard Dawkins so go tootling off to look up:
“First Atheist bus drives through London" - am tickled to see a picture of a double decker bus with a poster along its side "There is probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Decide to take bus’s advice and not worry so play the Merengue tune again. Starting to flag - lie down, try to Google ‘Fifty super foods to keep you dancing past 50 but fingers too tired to reach the “F” key. Pass out.

Susan Greenfield may be understating the future problem. I think the future may be more dramatic. Like the over-eating man in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life", all this cramming rubbish into our brains might one day do to them what all that mountain of food did to the mountainous man. They will, quite simply, explode. Spontaneous explosions will occur by the million all over the planet. Out with all the grey jelly will pour "five thousand things you didn't know about Michael Palin", "how to remove tea stains from pink polyester", "Kakapoo - what's the point?" and on and on the great torrent of knowledge will flow - all that useless, scattered information will stream across the globe. The globe that will be abandoned and full of garbage. I know because I watched "Wall-E" at some point last night. Steve Martin directed it and he was born under the sign of.... or was that Richard Dawkins but no, he's driving buses these days or is he the new Surgeon General? No that's Michael Moore.

Anyway, if we all learned to Merengue, I swear the world would be a better place. And so does Charles Darwin.

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