|The Computer And The Damage Done
||[Mar. 2nd, 2013|03:34 pm]
Things have been getting really bad with my mental state lately. Second Life has continued to torture me, in spite of my efforts to back off of it. Even if I only go on for one day a week to DJ at Cutlass, SL will bury me in drama and technical issues that both depress me and fry my brain.
There are lots of people on SL that I love and have given my all to keep going to be near. But I’m going to fall to pieces at this rate, and that’s not going to be fun for my friends to watch. So there’s no point driving myself on.
Last week I turned my club over to the staff. It’s theirs to make of what they will now. And I sent a message to the owner of Cutlass that I’m retiring and won’t be DJing anymore. And with that I am freed of my responsibilities in SL. I don’t need to feel compelled to be there anymore. If I ever go on again it will just be for casual visits when I have time to kill that isn’t being taken away from something else.
But is that enough? Is it just SL that has been dragging me down? No. It is this computer age lifestyle I’ve been stuck in ever since I got my first computer in 1999. I have spent 13 years fruitlessly trying to organize computer files. And I do mean for weeks on end intensely working like a machine trying to separate and tag music and picture files.
Whoever said computers save you time was off his nut. What they do is present you with a plethora of attractive possibilities, like having your entire record library in a format that you can put in your pocket and take anywhere with you. But it takes at least a year just to play my record library. That’s if I never turn the record player off to do things like writing. To digitize a collection the size of mine would take 10 to 20 years, because there’s 20 minutes to an hour of processing that needs to be done for each album after it’s been ripped.
So I never get anywhere near the goal of having my entire collection digitized, and feeling like I can’t be playing anything unless I’m digitizing it defeats most of the fun aspects of having a record collection. In all likelihood, if I have to wait till everything’s digitized to start enjoying my records again, I’ll either be dead or old and deaf. So it won’t matter.
Same deal with organizing the tracks so that I can enjoy the computer. I can never make up my mind how I want to tag various types of music. Any time I come up with a tagging system and try to implement it we are talking weeks of intensive computer work again. But it always takes so long I never finish. Result, the tagging of my tracks remains a perpetual, unsatisfying mess.
The whole attractiveness of a computer music system is to just be able to turn it on and let it run while it throws up all the pictures and info that go with each track. But, again, I will most likely not live long enough to get the tags and embedded images fixed so that dream computer music system does what I want it to.
Same deal with the picture files. I have over 64,000 pics in my Furry file, which I would like to be able to organize into screen savers and such. But of course, I don’t want any naughty pics in a screen saver. It takes weeks to go through 64,000 files and separate them into any kind of order, while Fur Affinity is dumping more on me all the time.
Yes, I know, I should file them as I collect them. But then just keeping my watch list on FA would take up my entire life. I’ve actually given up on collecting images because of this, as well as ripping vinyl.
When I was a kid I used to dream about owning every record in the world. Now you literally can, in a digital sense. You can get the hot 100 charts for the entire 20th century and download practically everything.
Well, you can at the moment. I fully expect the RIAA to kill access to that someday. But, with that thought in mind, I thought I should do it now if I was ever going to achieve that childhood dream. Well, actually, I was just going to do the 70’s. But I got the charts and was surprised to find I had access to every single track.
So I did 1970. It took one entire month of incredibly intense non-stop work to organize the slightly less than 1000 tracks and embed a record label for each one. And right about the time I had only a handful of tunes left to rip to make a complete 1970 file, the thought of doing this 10 more times to get through 1980 started to wear on me. It would take the commitment of this entire year.
Now, if I was doing this with anybody else in mind there might be more incentive to commit that kind of time and life force to a project. But if I’m just doing it for myself, what benefit is there at all in doing these impossibly long projects if they take up my entire life and don’t leave me any time to enjoy them?
This has been driving me nuts the last couple of days. I am staring into the reality of what is really bad about computers, the internet and the rest of this newfangled technology. Nobody needs everything. Nobody can handle having everything. It should be enough just to have what you need, and a fair percentage of what you want.
I already have all that. I have an apartment that is literally overflowing with more entertainment than I can use in what remains of my lifetime. Why do I need a computer to do all this stuff?
Records are for playing, not for digitizing. And I don’t need to be sitting there like a zombie watching screen savers either. The three computers I’ve gone through since 1999 have wasted the better part of 13 years of my life. If I only live to 65 or so that’s a significant percentage. And I have not one thing to show for it. Not one finished project. Nothing that I can just sit back and enjoy while I chill. If I try it just reminds me that there is more work to be done. And then I feel driven to get back to work on it so that I can enjoy my chill time with satisfaction. But I now know that I am never going to be satisfied.
Now I feel an intense need to plug this hole and stop my life from being sucked into this computer. I am declaring project after project as finished as it’s going to get. The garden and the club in Second Life, finished. Image collecting, finished. Ripping vinyl, finished. Collecting stuff, finished. I have enough.
From now on, when the thought of any impossibly long project occurs to me, I’m just going to say “Too bad I don’t have the time” and dismiss it.
The only impossibly long project I want looming over me is Spectral Shadows, because that I don’t do for myself. If I die right after I publish the last episode, I won’t feel like I didn’t get the benefit of the work.
Writing is different. It’s not like I expect to sit there and enjoy reading what I’ve written with some feeling of accomplishment. With writing the creative effort is everything. I really am into writing for the journey, not the destination.
Worse than the time my computers have wasted has been the serious damage they’ve done to my health. I’m a nervous wreck all the time. If a tiny spice bottle falls on the floor while I’m in the kitchen, it shoots my nerves to the point I feel like I’ve been hit in the head. And I’m positively miserable with the mother watching shoot ‘em up bang bangs all the time.
I was never like this before I got computers. I had a semi-normal life. I went places and did things. Going out with friends was a joy. Now it’s an obligation and a dread, because I can’t begin to explain why I’m not fun and interesting like I used to be.
Friend Marty will ask if I’ve discovered any exciting new music lately. It’s kind of difficult to explain, “No, I’ve done nothing but work with computer files since I last saw you 3 months ago.” Friend Phil will ask “What’s going on in your life?” And I have to wonder if it wouldn’t be more stress than it’s worth explaining that I just had my umpteenth nervous breakdown from trying to run a virtual night club.
I’m sure the folks wonder where my infinite patience and laidback demeanor went. If I come home with ponies or other cute toys, they may actually ask why, having gotten the idea I was over that sort of thing. Because these damn computer projects leave me no time at all for decorating the house with toy displays.
Yes, computers are a good thing in some respects. It’s nice to be able to do research without going to the library, and word processors can turn a 9th grade dropout into a literary genius. But too much access can make you greedy, and too much contact with human minds from all over the world can depress you to death. Too much information can drive you insane.
I’ve had it with all that. From now on this computer is a writing tool, nothing more. And we’ll see if this change of lifestyle causes any improvement in my mental and physical health. Or if the damage is permanent, leaving me subject to anxiety and headaches for the rest of my life.