Social media has perverted and supplanted my ability to express myself artistically, literarily, philosophically, poetically. The things I used to say, things I want to say from the back of my soul — in the front of my mind is now installed a filter, a tuned circuit to impedance match and pipe that natural, raw sound inside into the echo chamber to get maximum resonance. To get more likes. To get more comments. To incite reactions. And not exactly for my own good end, either. Social media doesn’t actually benefit me, or you, or anybody; its sole good is for the benefit of media itself. The platforms I use have insinuated themselves into my thinking. This is death of self, really.

I had something I wanted to post 10 minutes ago, but I stopped myself. Why? Because of the reasons stated above. I can’t keep going down that straight one-dimensional line; there are so many more dimensions to this world. There’s depth and space. If I can’t see that, and remember that, and try stretching out, to find the meat, to see where the people actually are instead of where they want to be seen, then my life is shallow. Meet me somewhere, or call me out of my stupid rut. I dare you.

I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something I’m just not doing, or finding, or finishing. Satisfaction hasn’t shown her face in my door in a long, long while. I must find her. I must find you.


Well, I reckon it’s safe enough to finally announce to you fine folks that I am gainfully employed. I have been working at Hostway Corporation for the past two weeks doing Enterprise-level support for managed servers. What that means to you is that I work at the Internet. Not on the Internet — AT the Internet. Every time you look at a website or send an email or have a chat, your computer is making a connection to some physical server that’s sitting in some warehouse at the other end of a wire. This is one of those places at the other end of that wire.

Our customers are generally large companies or private individuals who run a bunch of websites. We own the equipment, we keep it powered and cooled, we make sure the wires aren’t crossed and everything is secured, and then the customers lease that equipment from us to do whatever they need. My job is to answer calls, emails, and trouble tickets from customers who need something changed or have a problem with their server.

Since the Internet doesn’t sleep, it’s a 24/7 operation, so someone has to be on staff in the datacenter at all hours of the day and night. I’m not thrilled at the prospect of shift rotations, but my application to the job was completely voluntary; I knew this going in. The past weeks of getting up at 6AM and filling my head with a wheelbarrow of new knowledge are wearing me down, but I’ll eventually get used to it. I think once the first paychecks start coming in, I’ll be a little more grateful. Until then, I’ll keep plugging at it. It’s a heavy load to take in, but I expect that with a new career.

Offline and Out

So the apartment saga grows more absurd. I’ve been without an Internet connection since Thursday because of the actions of idiots. There is a small construction crew doing work on the apartment complex; they’re rebuilding the supports for all the upper-floor walkways, replacing the rotting wooden vertical beams with steel. Fine, I say.

But Thursday, I noticed that my ssh connection to my house had gone dead. Nothing I could do from work would bring it back. OK, I thought. So after I finally get home, I take a look. The power to the apartment is on; it didn’t burn in a fire; the server was running and was responsive; but the cable modem was offline. So I log into the cable modem, the signal level was low enough that it basically said “Hey, I’m physically disconnected.” So I grab my flashlight and look outside, tracing the cable line as far as I can. Didn’t take long before I found the problem: the construction crew intentionally cut my cable line. They cut a lot of people’s lines. Intentionally.

So I called Time Warner and let them know what was going on; they’ll send me a tech to service the line, but the soonest he can come out is — get this — Sunday. Three days without Internet at my apartment. I had a nice little chat with the landlady about it the next morning. She basically covered for their stupid asses and made excuses. Blowing smoke, basically. “Oh, they had to do that, it was in the way…they’ll fix it today.” Like I trust welders to repair my telecommunications lines. By end of Friday, you know what happened? Absolutely nothing. They didn’t fix it. Why did she feel like it was necessary to lie like that?

At least I know I’m not the only one inconvenienced by the debacle. There were at least ten other lines cut. My only hope is that Time Warner will take notice and see fit to fine the apartment management for letting this happen, and that the management will pass the buck on to the contractors. It’s a damn good thing I’m moving out; this whole things just feels like a final “Fuck you, get out” sort of thing.

On a positive note, my lease application was accepted at the new place, and all I gotta do is sign the lease agreement, decide on a move-in date, and write a check. Can’t wait. Been slowly moving stuff out of my apartment and into the storage. Now that I’ve gotten a lot of stuff trashed, given away, or stashed in the storage unit, the amount of stuff I have doesn’t seem so unbearable.

Mushroom, Cloud

There once was a DARPA defense project to create a decentralized communications network that had very few points of weakness and therefore could survive a nuclear attack. ARPAnet.

Academia joined on. The network grew, proved it was functional. Project a success, network renamed The Internet, as in “a network of networks”. All was well.

Electronic mail — email — and remote login to connected mainframes — telnet — was born. Researchers could share work, loan computer time, and join each other’s projects without traveling.

Realtime communications between users on the same system had existed — chat — but eventually a method to share and broadcast these chat messages between users on physically separate but connected systems came into being: Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. The network grew more vivacious.

File servers were set up to archive and share any file of interest: File Transfer Protocol, or FTP. A user could upload a picture or download a program.

Indexes were created to help users search these file and message archives: Archie and Gopher. The future was handy.

People could mail messages to special addresses to be publicly posted into groups based on common interests: Usenet. Anybody could come along and read these messages, then post a reply if they felt so inclined. Like posting a note on an office message board.

A few major businesses and a lot more schools joined the Internet. Those students graduated and formed a class of businesses called Internet Service Providers to allow themselves, and their customers, to retain access to the network.

In the early 90’s, a researcher at a European particle physics lab, CERN, built the greatest killer app of them all: The World Wide Web. Hypertext had hit the mainstream. Anyone could publish a document and link it to other documents anywhere else, giving rise to the “spiderweb” of threads between documents. The possibilities multiplied.

Late 90’s, the Internet, with the bright light of the WWW, began to attract those with lots of money to invest like moths to a porch light. New money was born, “DotComs” flourished, stock speculators placed bets. The Web reached critical mass. Soon, anything and everything you’d want began showing up on the Internet; things previously inaccessible found their way online for either profit or community. A new world dawned.

The rise of journaling and weblogs gave new voice to millions who discovered the richness and depth of long-form commentary. Every person could have a say, each one an audience. The banquet tables were filled with plenty of food for thought for everybody.

Then along came Facebook and those of its ilk, and all was forgotten about the rest of the Internet. All attention became centralized; where once was many voices in delightful cacophony became a few choirs singing nursery rhymes amongst themselves. The vast mindshare all across the net quickly funneled into one point of weakness. An attack on this would be devastating, and like subway riders in a power outage, all would be lost in the dark.

Too Tired for Idealism

Listening to Sophie & Ives’ song “Awaken”. Fucking phenomenal. Product of a transoceanic love affair between two artists, an american man and a New Zealand woman. An impossible love affair made possible by the internet. The hunger of the lyrics, and embrace of the music. Fuck. This is why I love the net; this kind of stuff exists. This is how I pictured the net in the idealism of my mid-20’s, a scant decade ago.

I dug out my boxes of floppies. Decided that since I have a lot of disk space I should probably backup those dusty pieces of yesteryear onto something a little more modern. Floppies and cdroms are poor mediums for long-term archival. Took two evenings, but I got through everything. Sorted and categorized everything into driver disks, boot disks, and important data. Backed up what I felt important. Found three floppies that contained all of the data I backed up from my three VAX accounts on my last week in school, December ’95. Every worthwhile email, every source code file, every text file, every configuration file. It’s all there.

Found a philosophical op-ed piece I wrote in September ’95 in the VAX lab. Forgot that I wrote that beast. Some generic 20-something blag about “This is our/your life, this is our/your world. Take it, use it, live it!” I obviously had some high hopes about the future although I was in the midst of failing miserably in my own schooling. Had no money for books; was dropping out of classes one by one; was working a night job and distancing myself from the very reason why I was in school, and for what? Some idealistic zeal that I just couldn’t shake even after leaving the religious environment which spawned it.

Yet there I was; writing about how we may come from chaos and shackles but through hope, through grasping onto the Now, through embracing new things (like the Internet), we may liberate ourselves and live the grand life we have all imagined. It’s apparent to me, in hindsight, that I had some obviously unresolved existential issues (still do). But the heart was still there: the desire to connect with others, to reach out, trade strength with people “out there” to build for ourselves a better world. Ten years later, a slim glint of that hope still exists in me, but to be perfectly honest, I’m too tired for idealism.

I’ve spun other yarns over the years about the salvation achieved by friends and strangers reaching out and offering kind words, helpful life advice, providing solace to those desolate and of ill psyche. Yarns about how we’re all on this great worldwide network and that it’s our Tomorrow. But the past six years have tought me, if anything, that such a dream cannot, and never will, be. We have forum users calling each other fags. Image boards are waging war on each other. A genre of websites has spawned that use other site’s content in order to serve their own share of the advertising market. It’s all money and marketshare now. Genuity is out with yesterday’s newspaper, seen as a weakness and as source material for someone else’s website.

I thought anonymity would save us; but it has doomed us to partisan bickering, flames, and trolls. It’s discouraging; gives me reason to not post anything on my blog.