Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"While I'm here...": Or why the Id likes the Web

I think addiction to the Web and to the TV remote control go with a psychological reflex we sometimes voice in our heads or outloud "So long as I'm already here...."

I'm used to thinking of this expression as an arbitrary and empty rationalization of an utterly abstract urge for more ["More!" the sincere inner voice might say]. Now I'm thinking the expression actually says something true and concrete. Maybe it looks like you're just taking more. Really though, when you switch channels or sites you're lunging for something else. Because your butt remains fixed on the couch or chair, it does not look like you're going anywhere. But this is just an illusion, an artifact of the aphysical kind of reorientation and transportation we do by linking out and changing a channel. Really you are reaching across an immeasurable distance for something (as the Pythons sayeth) completely different.

Regarding the attraction of the Web or TV or a vacation resort, people often offer up the word "variety," as if that encapsulates the compellingness of it. But "variety" ignores the intrinsic physical element of it, which is that it's right there and at your fingertips (two expressions you're liable to read in a Club Med brochure). Sure, a football stadium has a huge variety of people in it, but after you twist and turn you're unlikely to trade words with more than four of them, and the conversation wouldn't even be private. Staring into your Web browser is like standing an inch from an infinite array of spices or candies and with arms infinitely long and agile....

Maybe it's time I check into rehab. Or listen to the Magical Mystery Tour. Have you ever thought how "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" spelled "Wucy in the Why with Wiamonds" might represent the WWW?

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