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  • A

    The Mask Of The Internet

    04.05.2013 / ARCHIVES

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    We are what we eat, indeed. Which means that today, I’m a massive plate of avocado toast, inordinate cheese servings and – as of five minutes ago – a whole lot of mindless Internet morsels. I’m certainly not anti-Internet, but I have been making strides to better monitor my information intake. In a sense, I’m on a bit of an Interdiet. (It’s going well, thank you – my pants are looser and I can breathe deeper.) And I’m not alone.

    Masha Reva explores the way in which we interact with social media – the formation of self and the way in which we adhere to our surroundings. “Today a human is surrounded by huge amount of information, while social networks and blogs bring us an opportunity to create a superficial representation of ourselves in the web,” she writes. “Becoming a part of virtual reality, a computer data, we merge within the boundless informational field that is the internet.”

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    Her words remind me of this eye-opening TED talk I’ve mentioned before, and also of a recent speech written by Caterina Fake: “We make our human mistakes. Connected to so many, we are intimate with fewer and fewer. We squander our days in amusements. Instead of truth, triviality. We are exhorted to sate the urges of the millions, their sloth, greed, pride or lust. We are told that this is what will make us a success. This is a deadly cynicism, which we must fight. Because the internet is a medium, it doesn’t care whether it transmits love or hate. It is what we build and who we are that make it what it is. We can build things that diminish our humanity or build things that bring us to human flourishing.”

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    And I think to do this – to build things that bring us to human flourishing – we have to emerge just a bit. We have to release ourselves from our background and our surroundings and our Google searches. We have to aim for truth over triviality. Vulnerability over disguise. Creation over consumption.

    Masha touches on this in a recent interview. “We are hunting for information all the time, and consequently we do not stop to produce information by ourselves,” she writes. “It actually looks like we are being blended together with the huge amount of information, and for us it is never enough.”

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    Of course, untying ourselves from the tangled web of information (and yes, inspiration) we’re immersed in takes courage. And yet, I find it interesting that Masha’s prints are almost entirely nature-filled, as if the solution to our entrapment might live in our backyard, beneath the soil of productivity and bookmarking and email – buried just over the very roots which ground us.

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    This weekend, I’m unearthing those roots. I’m removing myself from the backdrop of design blogs and editorial calendars and refresh buttons. Because as novelist André Berthiaume once wrote, “We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.”

    Image Credits: Masha Reva

    p.s. More background blending here.

    • […] The mask of the internet via Design for Mankind […]

    • […] The mask of the internet via Design for Mankind […]

    • Ok, this is all great and I am in the same boat and completely relate to this issue. But I see a giant elephant in the room that nobody is talking about. What happens when everyone steps away from the internet, stops consuming and starts creating more? Isn’t it what got us into the over-consuming trouble in the first place – all these amazing minds that churn out great books or blog articles, incredible artists and performers, beautiful & well thought out products and so on? If we all keep creating more but there is nobody who will look at or engage with what we’re creating, then what? While this may not be a huge issue for those creating in certain fields such as painting where the process of creation is the pleasure in itself and one could happily paint on the weekends their whole life and never show their work to anyone, there are plenty of creative endeavors that MUST have consumers waiting on the other side in order to be meaningful. Am I missing something? Is the assumption that there will always be PLENTY of non-creative people who will never create themselves (or will create very little) and will be more than happy consuming all the wonderful things so easily available now? Is the battle here solely for already creative types that get bogged down in consumerist behavior instead of focusing on creating MORE of their work… to add even more information to the information overload? I know you will say it’s about finding a balance, but make no mistake that even if you find this mythical balance, you will still be contributing to the information overload and encouraging consumerism in other people simply by creating interesting thoughts or wonderful things. It is just part of the game – give and take, push and pull, etc. Let’s not just “consume less and create more”, because it is at best a naive and at worst a hypocritical approach. Let’s create with the same editing fervor we get when we try to downsize and simplify what we have in excess. Wheew, that was super rambly… I hope it makes sense a little bit…

      • Hi D,

        It does make sense! I think this idea is less about product consumption and more about idea/information consumption. It’s not bad, but I think it can teeter that way quickly. And I think the balance you speak of is certainly a different, fluctuating level from person to person. I’m in a heavy season of creating, but it hasn’t always been the case! I enjoy sitting back and being the consumer as well. Give and take, absolutely.
        e.

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