The first of this type of post, I hope to start a weekly series. Because of my professional and creative interests, I spend a lot of time on the internet, and I’ve noticed that my brain has become increasingly restless and sieve-like. Bookmarks aren’t working for me anymore as I forget about them as soon as they’ve been created, and I’m so tired of feeling that I’ve read so much but yet retained nothing. This is my effort to capture my train of thought throughout the week as I fall down my various online rabbit holes. I sincerely hope this works.
I started off the week thinking about what to bake with that last little bit of fresh raspberries I have from my mom. I was thinking that these scones would be delish.
Then I remembered that last week a friend had posted a picture of these vegan no-bake Elvis bars she’d made that looked amazing, so I Googled that and found the recipe. I definitely want to make an almond-free version of these soon since it’s been so hot out.
Early in the week one of the death feeds I follow, probably Death Salon or the PDX Death Café, posted a link to an article about the relationship of food, death, and mourning called The Hungry Mourner. I was already thinking about food after looking up recipes, so I checked it out. Turns out the article was about different foods prepared by various cultures and consumed during or around funeral rites, so not so much about why we are hungry after a funeral. Still, a fun read, and the article turned out to be featured on a really interesting website called Modern Loss that I’d like to remember for later perusal. The article also contained a link to another article about food and death, which I then followed to a final article about corpse cakes! (I wish someone would bake me one.)
Then an article a woman wrote about the Facebook ghost of her dead friend came across my radar. I don’t think it was particularly well-written, but it’s a hot topic right now because of the way the internet and social media are changing the way we mourn, so I felt that I had to read it. I’m fascinated by watching this evolving phenomenon, particularly how as more people from our digital age die, the more Facebook feels like an online, modern day memento mori, reminding us of the impermanence of life every time dead friend’s name and thumbnail pops up when we create an event and start inviting people. The further away we get from the day of their death, the more jarring, in a way, the reminder is. I notice that I feel a bit guilty now with a couple of dead friends, as I don’t think about them as much anymore and am really only reminded of them at these times. Having something like that in our faces is a bit scary, especially for the younger generations, as we really see in practice how time heals, and how soon we can be forgotten. Maybe this is one small thought that contributes to the profusion of YOLO, selfie, everything-out-there overshares that happen; we know we don’t have much time, and if we won’t be remembered long after we die we might as well get ourselves out there as much as we can now.
Randomly, a Slate article caught my attention because of the picture, and it too turned out to be about death. In particular, the Cross Bones Graveyard in London, the final resting place for prostitutes, paupers, criminals, etc, and the wonderful way that people have chosen to honor them posthumously. That article got me thinking about the Hart Island project in New York and the uphill battle being fought to allow relatives of the dead to visit the island. Some really beautiful and terribly sad stories coming out of there, that’s for sure. And yet again, this is another example of online memento mori. The internet has allowed us incredible access to all of the beautiful, sad, incredible stories of the world, and these include the stories of our dishonored and heretofore forgotten dead. Fingers crossed that we are learning, and that we will begin to see a shift in the way we treat our dead and dying.
Someone on Facebook posted a link to this super long and interesting article about the guy who started Rudy’s Barbershop and the Ace Hotel. He’s dead, so you can see that this still fit within my apparent theme of, um, death.
From there I followed links to a couple of other Fast Company articles. They had great titles: How Resilient People Stand Back Up When Life Knocks Them Down, and 4 Reasons Why Being Selfish is Good For You, but unfortunately were not as awesome as I’d hoped they’d be (I’m so sick of lists. Thanks Buzzfeed.). In particular I’d had high hopes for the article about why being selfish is good for you, because this has been in my thoughts a lot lately. Now that I am a stay at home artist, I notice a creeping feeling of guilt stealing over me every now and again. It’s because after doing something so all-consumingly selfless like The Giving Tree, I have a hard time justifying using my time and talents to further my own aims. I feel selfish. And I shouldn’t, because it’s some self-care that I desperately need. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with doing something for yourself. But geez, even writing that I feel bad. So clearly it’s something I’m still working on.
Oh, and then this article just completely enraged me because it was so poorly written: The Motivations Behind Why People Participate and How to Use Them to Your Advantage. Can I just pick this apart here for a sec? The most appalling thing is that not a single one of the headings address the stated premise of the article. Any motivations cited are hidden (and not cleverly) within the text. And there was such potential here! Because there are very straightforward motivations behind why people participate, and they could (even though I hate list articles) be listed and expounded upon easily! But ugh, the article was clearly just a throwaway marketing article; just one example of the increasingly shoddy writing that clutters the internet as the demand for content continues to increase. Slow it down, folks! Quality over quality, please!
Oh, but thank goodness then for this amazing essay, which captures so many of my thoughts about, well, the Narrative of Fragments that the internet has become. And the effects on our minds, and the way we work and think and function in our day-to-day lives. Such a balm to my brain; long form, well thought out and skillfully authored, everything I needed to wash away the grime and refocus.
And then there’s this random thing that I want to follow. The Tao of Terence. A series written for Vice about a guy who was a big fan of DMT. Which normally I would discount, but there are some good quotes in there that make me want to know more of what was inside that guy’s head. Because, for better or worse, it sounds like he and I have similar musings.
And that was it. My internet for the week.