Trollbooth Blog #6


Designed by Margie Markevicius @
Designed by Margie Markevicius

If you haven’t been following my Trollbooth blog, you can catch up here.

I hit the century mark this morning!  That’s right, 100 pages and counting, all typed up and in desperate need of shaping.  That’s all right, for now, since that kind of rewriting comes in the third draft, not the second.  Plus, it’s an accomplishment in itself; I managed to not fight myself and just transcribe, which is in line with my writing process.

More good news: I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  I can look ahead in my journal and see the end less than a hundred pages away.  The story itself is settling into its final shape now, too.  I always have a depressing time looking at the beginnings of my own novels because the ideas inevitably change as I figure out what works and doesn’t.  It’s like knowing you have to clean a whole house, eventually, but the room you start in is the one with the biggest, nastiest mess.  Trollbooth is becoming more coherent and consistent as I go on, so I’m taking the pluses where I can get them and trying to be happy about it.

I also fought a sense of needing to catch up this week.  Having endured illness, I feel like I’m behind on where I want to be.  That makes me want to type faster, but everybody whole does any serious typing knows there’s only so high a rate of speed you can type at before you just start stroking the wrong keys more often than not.  I don’t mind a heavy spellcheck at the end of every session (I walk the speed line every day), but I can’t stand sitting here at my desk going, What the fuck does jsyenaka mean?

I’ve also made a setup change on my desk.  Up until the middle of last week, I’ve had my journal propped to the left of my two monitors.  Naturally, that led to me keeping my head turned left – a lot.  My neck started getting sore.  It also felt like I was looking at the screen too much, just to relieve the muscle strain.  That led to distraction by typo, or me rereading what I just typed, which takes me out of the transcription game.  I solved the problem by moving my journal and stand in front of the left monitor and sliding the document over to the right monitor.  This way, what I’m working on is right in front of me, and I can still glance at the draft on the screen to make sure I didn’t do something stupid like write two pages in italics.

Overall, I feel good about the novel.  It’s gonna be short, but it’s got life in it.  Weird without being gross, which is yet another line I walk.  Luckily, that’s the kind of thing I enjoy.

Concerning Digital Narcissism

Games“Games” like this get on my nerves.  They’re one of the most self-serving aspects of the Facebook universe, and furthermore, they take up space in a timeline that’s already cluttered with ads, suggestions, and extensions.  The social aspect of the network, in other words, gets clogged up behind a hairball of inconsequentiality.

Allow me to explain: you post a “game” like the one in the picture one day.  Okay, now it appears somewhere in my news feed, this bigass graphic and/or explanation (and if I’m very unlucky, a mile-long list of one-word responses that make no sense to anybody but you).  You ask me for information we both already know, in a format that’s not conducive to any sort of social experience since the one-word deal makes it the equivalent of an inside joke.  You then ask me to repost and start the whole cycle over, and for what?  The game says it’s to see who reads and who scrolls, but to me, it begs a question.

Who cares?

Here’s a truth about me.  I scroll, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve got 200-odd people in my lists, some of whom I know professionally, some of whom are my friends or family, and then there’s the vast majority of distant relations, old high school acquaintances, people I met once at a writing event or a party or really anywhere.  For the vast majority of these people, the minutia of their online existence – the “Spent the afternoon baking bread,” or “Traffic sux in the snow!” updates – don’t merit commentary.  I don’t see the point.

Furthermore, I “scroll” the same way one would read a newspaper or hunt for interesting stories on a news site.  CNN junkies aside, most people don’t read a site/paper word-by-word, end-to-end, without skipping past the stories that aren’t interesting.  That’s been the way since news was printed; unless it’s a hobby, it’s a skim-for-interest affair.

And then these “games” pop up.  They remind me of e-mail games from a decade back, the pseudo-spam everybody sent around entitled “20 Questions” or “Get To Know Your Friends.”  They were full of inane time-wasting queries like, “Do you eat chicken fingers with a fork?”  Honestly, who cares?  I’d rather make my interactions about quality, not quantity.

All of which brings me to the point: these games are nothing more than digital narcissism.  They serve no purpose to the greater social spirit or community, they don’t further anybody’s understanding of themselves, their friends, or humanity.  These games are self-serving, and let’s face it, there are tools out there to find out who’s reading your wall, how long they spend on it, and so forth.  Get ’em.  Install ’em.  Use ’em.  It’s a way to make yourself happy rather than looking for a stroke-job, and if I scroll right past the game, please remember that I scroll past all sorts of posts because, simply, they don’t interest or engage me.

And remember: that’s not an insult.  Think of it as challenge.