Okay folks, it's confession time.
It's a confession in the way of a question. Is anyone here like me, in that they are compelled, obsessed, and drawn beyond their will to spend inordinate amounts of time on Wikipedia every day of their lives? I'm not the only one? Thank God!
It is one of those things that, the further I delve into it, the further I’m compelled to dig. One thing always leads to another. With a fancy new high-speed connection in one hand, and those twin sisters Wikipedia and Wikibooks in the other, I find that there is nothing I cannot learn if I simply set about looking into it.
I delight in following random links, and then subsequent links, and so on and so forth. It never ends. I grin wondering how many of the kids today who walk around donning black eyeliner and Nine Inch Nails patches on their backpacks are familiar with the origins and meanings of the word Gothic. It’s remarkable. A 4th century language and a (beautiful) style of architecture, among other things… most interesting to me is the fact that ‘gothic’ was a derogatory term thrown at those cathedrals back in the day, meant to imply how ugly and barbaric they were.
"Darling, what do you think of these new buildings?"
"I think they're positively gothic."
This kind of thing just makes me smile.
Not that I dislike modern-day gothic culture, mind you. I've had my share of nights where I pulled on the fishnets and Docs, downed a few shots of Jäger, and pounded the dance floor to the pulsing beats of VNV Nation; I also dream of having a pair of elegant gothic sconces fixed to the wall of my bedroom someday.
But I wonder how many Hot Topic kids know the history of something so integral to their identity.
I’ve found, as anyone who spends any amount of time on Wikipedia finds, that there is far more out there than anyone could digest in a lifetime. The sheer scope and comprehensiveness of it is awe-inspiring. Say you are sitting there, listening to Gomez do a glorious cover of Tom Waits’ “Goin' Out West” and sipping your earth-colored Tuocha. You may suddenly tangent over to the life story of Sima Qian and learn how he shaped Chinese historiography for centuries to come. Or over to the fantastic fictional world of Babylon 5, where the conflicting ideologies of Vorlons and Shadows threaten to engulf the universe in fire. Then you're looking at types of clouds. Then the discography of Marty Robbins. And so on, into the sunset.
All of this is at our fingertips, all of it is free, and it knows few, if any, bounds.
It can be overwhelming. I have to take breaks often, be it with hilariously entertaining Star Wars vids from Robot Chicken, or seeing Henry Rollins tear Ann Coulter a new one. These things help me escape from the constant barrage of new information, and give my brain a rest.
I must take some time away from the computer. I'm very aware of its power to make me feel I've been productive when really I've simply reorganized my iTunes library for the fifth time that day. With a force like Wikipedia, it's hard to feel that there could be any wrong in it. But nonetheless, I know when I'm addicted.
So in the imminent future, I will be initiating a new ritual: for one day a week, I shall forego all computer use, cell phone use, and use of any other contraption that might make me reachable or distracted or otherwise disengaged from my own life. Instead, I'll spend more time with Jonathan Strange, the wise words of Barry Lopez, or just plain take a walk.
I've yet to think of a suitable name for this ritual, or to choose a specific day. But the day is nigh.
The time, as always, is at hand.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Okay folks, it's confession time.