Around the Web, Happy New Year Edition
The internet has been bestowing its blessings to me, in the few moments I’ve had at my computer these last few days. Sometimes, the internet is just a series of banal dead-ends–especially true if one’s starting point is social media. Other times, it’s a seemingly endless series of amazingly interesting rabbit holes–more often true when starting with a well curated email newsletter or simply a really smart person’s website.
I used to have time to follow rabbit holes more thoroughly. I used to be single and live by myself and was often marginally employed. Now any moment at home at the computer is at high risk of being interrupted by children playing piano or drums, or demands to play Minecraft on my computer, or requests for help with any number of things, or just normal family events and outings. These days away from the office, the email has come in faster than I can process it, frustrating my goal to get to inbox zero before I have to return to the working world tomorrow. (And really, I have to get a head start today.)
The same goes for my todo list.
Regardless, here are some things from the last couple of days’ worth of rabbit holes:
Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.
Being sold to can be socially awkward, for sure, but when it comes to corrosive self-doubt, being the seller is a thousand times worse. The constant curation of a salable self demanded by the new economy can be a special hellspring of anxiety.
…After a couple of decades of constant advice to “follow our passions” and “live our dreams,” for a certain type of relatively privileged modern freelancer, nothing less than total self-actualization at work now seems enough. But this leaves us with an angsty mismatch between personal expectation and economic reality. So we shackle our self-worth to the success of these projects — the book or blog post or range of crocheted stuffed penguins becomes a proxy for our very soul.
Terrible title, great article on Donald Knuth, one of the greats of computer science.
If you enjoyed the above, then you might be interested in taking the entire year to deep dive into the history of the Internet…
These documents started out in 1969 as a way for ARPANET engineers to keep track of notes and discussions on their project. (ARPANET was run by the US Department of Defense and is considered the primary precursor to the modern internet.)
Should you decide to follow that last link, you might need some good focus-inducing music. Try: Below (Original Soundtrack) by Jim Guthrie.