I’m currently reading The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson, an author I love. He has an incredible talent for weaving humor into his keen observations. His books read like he’s talking to me from across the living room while I sit giggling in my chair.
This story tells of his growing up in the 1950’s in Des Moines, Iowa. Though that’s a couple decades before my time, there are childhood realities weaved throughout the book which ring true to me and probably every kid that grew up before the internet came into our homes. The ways we as kids passed and experienced time were just different then.
A few months ago, I saved a piece from the New Yorker that pulled an adjacent thread for me – Before the Internet by Emma Rathbone. I too remember the time before the internet. I remember being outside all day. I remember what it was like to have to amuse myself instead of having buckets of useless information poured directly into my eyeballs every second of every day.
“Then you’d walk outside and squint at the sky, just you in your body, not tethered to any network, adrift by yourself in a world of strangers in the sunlight.”
These days, partaking in information overload is at the discretion of the consumer. If you accidentally fall down the rabbit hole of looking at pictures old gas stations for two hours on Saturday morning? Hey, that’s on you. No one strapped you to the couch and said, look, dammit!
Riding my motorcycle is the perfect antidote to my propensity for internet addiction. My helmet is the place where my mind can relax and float freely. It’s the perfect place to think and unplug from digital-life. If I don’t stop cramming more data in, when can possibly I analyze and ponder what I’ve already absorbed? It’s like mind-hoarding. The inside of my brain probably looks like stacks of yellowing old newspapers that I’ll get to one day.
Though I am taking in tons of information while riding, it’s just… different. No amount of well-written prose or artfully captured image comes close to feeling, learning and knowing things experientially and filtering them through your own lens.