I read a massive amount on the internet, ranging from scanning headlines to reading Sunday magazine-length pieces. I keep up on Chicago news, I follow the debates on the econ blogs (which range far beyond acceptable mainstream American opinion on such matters), I take in the weird mix of absurdism and insight at The Awl and The Hairpin — just for a sample. Yet it all feels like it doesn’t “count” somehow, and in fact, sometimes it feels like it’s hurting my quality of life. This is because of the constant flow of internet writing. I like to be up to date, to have things nice and tidy (for instance, hitting zero on Google Reader), and this leads to addictive types of behavior: for instance, the infamous “hovering.”
For this reason, reading print publications seems preferable to me. When you have a magazine or newspaper, you know when you’re done with it, or at least, in the last resort, there’s a way you know you’ve exhausted it by reading everything. Reading the morning paper, for instance, will take a certain amount of time, and then you set it aside and move on with life. You don’t check the paper throughout the day to see if anything changed. You have a paper-reading portion of your day, and then you have the rest of your day — as opposed to the internet style of reading, where even if you have to self-control to ignore it, you can almost feel it piling up.
A couple obstacles prevent me from downgrading. First, there’s force of habit. Second, I do think that blogs give me a better range of opinion than I could easily get from print publications, short of the “nuclear option” of actually reading Z Magazine.
But the third is perhaps the most important: until I feel “settled in,” starting a new routine seems difficult. My crazy lifestyle of dividing my time between Kalamazoo and Chicago has presented kind of an extreme case, but there’s something about contingent or uncertain employment that makes any kind of “project” seem inappropriate or ill-advised. I can’t subscribe to a newspaper when I don’t know where I’ll be in four months! (Or more classically: I can’t commit to a gym membership when I’m only temping/adjuncting/working for free to “build my resume” because I’m an idiot!)
Am I the only one who feels this way? I can’t be, right?