Seeing as I'm now an undergraduate student at university, rather than a hermit, I have to study the great poets of the Romantic era, six-hundred page literary epics and the true masters of classical literature. Needless to say this requires quite a lot of reading; yet when I sit down and open a particularly gripping textbook about literature theory and criticism, never has the junk on my desk, the walls, curtains, trees outside my window, crushed receipts, the skin on my face, and the contents of my bin seemed so interesting. And even if I manage to ignore all these remarkable distractions, I've then got a Blackberry, iPod, Xbox 360, the wonders of the internet and the plague of Faceboook to contend with. It seems to me that technology isn't helping to move us forward in the world; it's holding us back.
It was so much easier to be an established writer, scientist or philosopher back in the day; by that I'm thinking more like the sixteenth century, not 'West Philadelphia born and raised.' What with there being fewer distractions, there was nothing else to do but sit down and write a novel or two. No wonder Shakespeare found the time to pen so many timeless classics; apart from an abundance of alcohol the only thing distracting him from sitting down and writing a sonnet were diseased hookers - and he got over that hurdle by liking men.
Had Albert Einstein had access to the internet it wouldn't have helped him to develop the theory of relativity, he'd have just spent his time browsing science pornography and being duped into thinking that he'll win an iPad by shooting five of them in a flash advert at the top of a web page. He'd have got as far as 'E=', seen that his friend Gunter had changed his status to 'in a relationship,' and that would be the end of his afternoon of deep, scientific cogitation. Or if Isaac Newton had been sitting under that tree browsing for apps on his iPhone when the famous apple fell upon his head; his first thought wouldn't have been to been to ponder the laws of physics, he'd have updated his fans, sharing his misfortune within the constraints of one-hundred-and-forty characters, on Twitter. And I'm certain that Galileo would have found that the combination of Red Bull and Gears of War is a much more entertaining way of spending a Friday night than looking into the sky.
It seems that nobody takes the time to ponder their thoughts and work them into a coherent form any more. We have the ability to inspire others, to make our voices heard, and to reach millions of people at the touch of a button; but we just end up defecating the scattered, pulp-like contents of our brains onto the internet without any further thought. The idea that technology is helping us to move forward is a façade; we spend more time telling other people that we're supposed to be working than actually doing it. If I'm going to reach the level of greatness that going to university has convinced me I can indeed reach, then I should probably neglect technology all together and, ironically, go back to being a hermit, embracing an Amish-like existence. But first I should update my status to 'dislikes buttons and feels like churning some butter.'