all, inspiration

Timesickness of a Perpetual Nomad

“….somewhere around 2003 the texture of daily life inside Western media-driven societies began to morph, and quickly, to the point where, a half-decade later, it’s now obvious to people who were around in the twentieth century that time not only seems to be moving more quickly, but is beginning to feel funny, too.

There’s no more tolerance for waiting of any sort. We want all the facts and we want them now. To go without email for forty-eight hours can trigger a meltdown. You can’t slow down, even once, ever, without becoming irrelevant. Music has become more important because music is a constant. School reunions are beside the point because we already know what our old classmates have done. Children often spend more time in dreamland and cyberspace than in real life. Time is speeding up even faster.

And then the economy collapsed in a weird way that felt like a hard-to-describe mix of Google, The New York Times’s website, pop-up ads for Russian pornography websites, and psychic radiation emitted by all those people you see standing by the produce section at 6:15pm on a weeknight, phoning home to see if spinach is a good idea. All this information and more has overtly, osmotically, or perhaps inadvertently damaged a collective sense of time that has been working well enough since the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle classes. This “timesickness” is probably what killed the economy, and God only knows what it’s up to next.

Everywhere we look, people are making online links—to conspiracy, porn, and gossip sites; to medical data sites and genetics sites; to baseball sites and sites for Fiestaware collectors; to sites where they can access free movies and free TV, arrange hookups with old flames or taunt old enemies—and time has begun to erase the twentieth-century way of structuring one’s day and locating one’s sense of community. People are now doing their deepest thinking and making their most emotionally charged connections with people around the planet at all times of the day. Geography has become irrelevant. Our online phantom world has become the new us. We create complex webs of information and people who support us, and yet they are so fleeting, so tenuous. Time speeds up and then it begins to shrink. Years pass by in minutes. Life becomes that strange experience in which you’re zooming along a freeway and suddenly realize that you haven’t paid any attention to driving for the last fifteen minutes, yet you’re still alive and didn’t crash. The voice inside your head has become a different voice. It used to be “you.” Now your voice is that of a perpetual nomad drifting along a melting landscape, living day to day, expecting everything and nothing.”

— Douglas Coupland, in “Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing Of My Work!”

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