Being offline

I am coming around to the line of thinking that someday in the future, people will pay a premium to be disconnected and offline. I heard it first articulated in Brian Eno’s 2003 seminar at the Long Now foundation (audio & pdf available here):

Q: David Battino: 50 years from now when we all have broadband
receivers embedded in our skulls, will we be paying for silence instead of

BE: Yes absolutely right.
I’ve done my best actually in that respect in making music that has less
and less sound in it. I’m getting there. Actually in the 1950s I heard
there used to be jukeboxes in America that had one silent disc, so if you
wanted a bit of peace, then you put your dime in and you dialled that
number and you got three minutes of silence. I’d love to get a collection
of those records wouldn’t that be fantastic! A jukebox where that’s all
you had on, different varieties of silence.

I’ve been thinking about it this evening because of this column by Shalom Auslander I saw mentioned in the Bookslut blog:

I wonder if the one who came up with the term “Information Age” was being sarcastic, as the information it has come to refer to is not simply a burden and a chore—though that would be bad enough—but a lie, a distraction. This information that leads to knowledge, it is not information about the nature of man, new theories of existence, fascinating insights into our own tortured human ways that will allow us to become a deeper, more whole species. It’s about mudslides in India, bombs in Sri Lanka, diseases in Africa, child molesters in Florida. Jack drinks heavily, and doesn’t want to talk about it; he maintains destructive relationships with family members who hate him, and doesn’t want to talk about it; he knows which issues were discussed at the G8, and is closely monitoring the re-emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Those things he wants to talk about. He is not the exception. Most people would rather look outward than inward, but it seems to me this Information Age bullshit has cloaked avoidance in virtue and made the distraction an obligation. I went cold turkey five years ago. No news—no television, no magazines, no newspapers, no blogs, no op-eds, not even, sadly, The Onion. I’ve never been happier. This is the headline I hope to see on the Drudge Report one day, the day before the blessed end of the Age of Pseudo-Information, just below Matt’s Flashing Red Light Of Pseudo-Importance: GO ON WITH YOUR LIVES! STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE TRAINWRECK IN BANGLADESH—YOU’RE THE TRAINWRECK… YOUR WIFE IS HAVING AN AFFAIR AND YOUR SON HATES YOU… THERE ARE NO ANSWERS HERE… DEVELOPING…

Biting the hand that feeds, I know.