No Internet Month Diary.. 2021

in #internet5 months ago (edited)

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++No Internet Month Diary .. 2021++

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Our minds are being altered

By the use of this technology

Make no mistake, have no doubt

Where this is leading

Is anyone's guess

Give the children the tools

To build a better world

They will know how to use them

When the time comes

And the time is now

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In preparation for this year's No Internet Month (traditionally the month of December), as well as in anticipation of the long awaited and much hyped sequel, I have spent the last three nights binge-watching 'The Matrix' parts one, two and three.

Now, just like Neo after taking the red pill, I'm about to unplug that evil looking spike from the back of my head and plunge myself into the 'real world'. Fortunately, it's not (quite yet) the dark, lifeless wasteland ruled over by evil robot slave-masters, as depicted in the movie, so I'm very much looking forward to my retreat from the Matrix. This year I feel I need it more than ever...

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++Wednesday 2nd December++

Galit gave up smoking last month. Now, in the manner of a born again Christian who's seen the light, she says I need to give up my addictions. She's probably right, but nobody likes to be pushed, even into living a better, healthier life.

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The first few days of No Internet Month, I'm always a bit jittery.. glancing at my phone, dark and silent across the room.. inviting me to just light up the screen for a moment .. just to look at it .. just for one little hit of information..

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++Midnight - Saturday/Sunday, 4th/5th December++

Existential doubts accompany almost everything I do lately. Trying to connect the action with the reason for it, but most things seem pointless in the face of the future which is unfolding very quickly now.. but I carry on as best I can, trying to keep on functioning in this system which is either bound to collapse or else swallow everyone alive.

Some say this is the dawning of the New Age and everything will soon turn around. Maybe it is. Maybe it will. Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Everywhere I look, people are getting radicalised, left, right and centre.

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++Tuesday 7th December++

I'm losing hours, days, weeks and months.. sometimes even years. Memory loss.. short and long term. Focus and concentration.. out the window Sense of time.. up the spout.

My regular customers know by now that if I say something will take me a week, because it would take a normal person a couple of days, it will probably take me a month or two. And it's not as if I'm just sitting around.. I seem to be busy all the time and have a permanent backlog of things I need to do.. although lately I find myself staring into space more than ever.

Possible reasons for this:

  1. Stress. Dafi told me that stress causes memory loss. She'd get exasperated that I'd forget things all the time, but was very understanding, considering the stress I was under at the time. That's something that sticks in my mind.
  2. Smoking marijuana all the time. With such a bumper crop this year, what can I do? It's cheaper than tobacco.. organic, home grown and is even said to keep the dreaded coronavirus at bay. I don't know if that's true, but it's worked for me so far, as far as I can tell.
  3. Malnutrition. I barely eat these days. About one meal a day, if that, and a nice, family meal that Galit makes on a Friday night. Somehow it seems enough to keep me going, but Noah says that lack of B12 and Omega oils can cause memory loss and a whole host of other health problems. He's got me some supplements and reminds me to take them, because of course, I never remember..
  4. Could it be that years of Facebook use have somehow interfered with the functioning of my very brain .. altered my temporal perception .. destroyed my focus.. and is now shutting down, or taking over whole sections of my cognitive and nervous system, like some kind of computer virus which corrupts and wipes out .. random access memory ... ? …

Could it be.. that due to the sheer volume of information, misinformation, confusing statistics.. outrageous stories, enraged opinions.. this paradoxical, dissonant, conflicting, confounding avalanche of bits and bytes.. flickering pixels of light.. flashing into my eyes.. through my optic nerve and directly into my brain.. from mere centimeters away.. for several hours ever day.. has somehow altered the very functioning of my brain?

There's a lot of talk of how social media use effects dopamine .. the brain chemical associated with pleasure or satisfaction, which is also key to the way we develop compulsive, addictive patterns of behaviour. The clever bods at facebook understand this relationship very well and use it to make their product ever more addictive by any and all means possible. What will ultimately be the long term effects of this, on individuals and on society, is anyone's guess..

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++Thursday 9th December++

A clear and fresh morning after a very stormy night and a strange weather week. I don't know if it had anything to do with the planes filling the sky with trails all week. Call me paranoid if you will, but I watched with my own eyes as planes criss-crossed the sky all day, leaving long white trails which turned into hazy, white clouds. And everyone had sore throat, irritated eyes, difficulty breathing. There's also been this big, white balloon hovering over the valley for the last week or so. Some kind of Zeppelin. I don't know what it's doing there. Probably some kind of eye-in-the-sky contraption, watching over us.. for our own safety and protection, of course..

I don't have the bandwidth for conspiracy theories these days. It's been overdone. I've got to the point where I simply don't know 'what's really going on', or what to believe any more. We are all sheeple now, whether we like it or not, whichever side we think we're on.

Glimpses of the truth, or fragments of it, is the best we can hope for in this world.

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Because of certain dramatic events in Cleveland Ohio, I just had to look at Facebook.

One of the pupils at Karly's daughter's school threatened to go on a shooting spree in the school. This person was angry about something they saw on Twitter. Pupils who were seen without facemasks were having their photos posted on the internet by other pupils, hoping to shame them into complying with the school's mask policy. So this person sent a tweet of their own.. said they were in the school and in possession of a gun and would start shooting if the offending, shaming tweets weren't immediately removed.

Of course, the school's mask policy or the way they choose to enact it wasn't really the main issue on this occasion. The issue is the sickness that would cause someone to make such a threat. The issue is the easy access to guns and the waves of school shootings in the US that makes such a threat credible. This is the third of fourth time since I've known Karly, that she's had a close encounter with gun violence. One of the first times we ever spoke, she was locked down inside a public library while police tried to catch a gunman at large in the neighbourhood.

Thankfully, the threat turned out to be a hoax. Schools all over the country received similar threats that day. Karly's daughter is cool. Her and her friends have come to expect this sort of thing from time to time. They're prepared for it. If it was me, I'd probably take my children out of school and head for the hills (which is basically what I have done) but there are positive things that come with being part of society too.. especially if that society can be gradually improved using the democratic process, the rule of law, and by good citizens who fight for social justice.

On Facebook, Karly wrote about the day's events at her daughter's school.

While most of the comments were suitably supportive to Karly and her daughter and outraged at the abyss of gun violence into which their country has been falling since the days of its inception.. one commenter, of course, happened to pick up on the other issue.. the naming and shaming children on the internet for not wearing masks in school..

Naturally, being Facebook, and in light of the dark, heavy and controversial subject matter, the thread quickly led to a bad place.

Angry words were written. Friends became unfriends. The issues are too emotive. Sometimes one cannot simply agree to disagree. There must be consequences.

What did I think about the issue? Where did I stand in the argument? What exactly was my opinion on the matter? What do I have to say about any or all of this? Which side am I on..?

My mind already beginning to compose some sharp, incisive comment about the complex, pressing issues of our time.. law and order, gun ownership, public health, education.. maybe I should write some scathing indictment against the corrupt leaders in our society.. or perhaps something wise and abstract which would cause everyone to stop and think, if only for a moment.. or maybe I should write something that could sooth the two sides in the argument, bridge the animosity, clarify any misunderstanding, bring friends back together...

… and then I remember it's No Internet Month. I'm not doing any of that.

I switch off the phone, blink my eyes and shake my head..

Where was I? Where had I just been? How long had I been gone?

I'm still up by the pond at the top of the garden. My favourite place these days. A bathtub with water and rocks, plants and fish. Big trees all around. Towering white clouds rolling across the bright blue sky.

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++Saturday 11th December++

I think that S. Sporn (not his real name) was onto something when he compared facebook to a neighbourhood bar. The place where everybody knows your name..

I always miss it at first, facebook. After all, it is almost all of my social life these days. It's almost the only place in my little world where I can interact, in my own language, with anyone other than cats, children or guitars.

The problem is, as a local bar/saloon/coffee-shop/hangout.. but mainly some kind of boozer.. it's not one that I really like very much at all. Sure, there are some cool people there. We have some interesting conversations sometimes. Sometimes have a laugh. Give each other encouragement and support. It's not all bad, don't get me wrong.

But as a local pub, let's just say, it's a bit rough. Fights breaking out all over the place. Corporate branding everywhere. Dodgy dealers and their dodgy deals. Pickpockets, pushers, pimps and prostitutes all over the place. Bouncers on the door.. one wrong word and you're out. Cameras everywhere. Everything you do being recorded, possibly to be used against you at some not so distant point in some dystopian future. Every word and opinion noted for future reference. Screenshots, dubious likes on wrong comments. Everyone high on dopamine and drunk on rage, pushing each other further and further in the great struggle of our time... whatever it is.. for you.

Sometimes it's good to step out of that arena and just be where you are.. wherever that is.. and who you are.. whoever that is. Not sure if I can even remember who I am any more.. maybe just a product of our time. One more lonesome stranger propping up the bar of my friendly local virtual saloon..

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I was talking with Omer.. about the internet, virtual reality, online dating sites.. how some women (and also men? I don't know..) use so many filters on their profile photos that the photos barely resemble the person they supposedly represent .. sometimes the pictures barely resemble a person at all, so much as a Barbie doll or a cartoon character.. and the kind of bizarre, comical, embarrassing and disappointing situations this can lead to.

This, and the way that everyone has starting using Avatars.. cartoon representations of themselves .. a kind of virtual body nonetheless. These are bound to become more realistic looking and able to perform more complex functions as technology advances. Soon we may reach the point where everyone has a virtual Avatar.. a realistic, digital representation of how they would like to appear. Coupled with virtual or augmented reality, it will soon be possible to see everyone exactly how they imagine themselves, or how they would like to appear.

Strange times are coming.

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I spoke with Q the other day (not their real name and no relation to the infamous Q-Anon).We haven't spoken for a while and I was quite surprised to find them so distraught about the Covid response measures since the start of the pandemic.. but especially the latest measures being considered.. the requirement of all schoolchildren to be vaccinated in order to attend school.

The reason I was so surprised is that I would not have expected that to be their opinion or their feelings. I'm not saying that Q, in their own unique way, isn't as whacky as any of my other friends.. but among all of my friends, Q and their partner are perhaps the most rational, reasonable people I know, as well as the most upstanding, public spirited and conscientious of citizens. Certainly not someone I'd think of as an anti-vaxxer.

Now they're scared to make their views known publicly, for fear of the backlash.. the fear of losing friends, losing work.. not to mention the dilemma of what to do when the choice is between whether or not to send their children to school, when the time comes for them to be jabbed. Their kids love their school, so they'll probably bite the bullet, so to speak, if and when the time comes.. and consent for their precious children to be injected with a substance they believe to be potentially harmful and quite unnecessary.

For some it's a no brainer. Of course they'll vaccinate their children, the sooner the better. We are fortunate to have the vaccine and it's our best hope of beating the virus. The science has spoken loud and clear. But for others, it's a heart wrenching decision. Too much hangs in the balance.

I guess, if I was Q, I'd be thinking about taking the kids out of school and heading for the hills. But maybe there's no need to take such drastic measures. I feel relieved that I already did that years ago, so don't have to make these hard choices now.

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++December 13th Monday.. 1.44 am++

Fifteen hours straight in the workshop Making a guitar head inlaid with seashells. Sometimes I wonder why I do these things. God knows, it's not for the money.

It makes no odds if you're good at what you do When it comes to art. If it's torn from your soul then it must be worth something Something or other.

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++December 13th Monday.. Midday++

Woke up very late this morning. Cats all wailing, desperately, pitifully outside the window, waiting for me to get up and feed them. My little family of hungry urchins. They're not so different from humans really. Most of us are only a step or two away from that abject condition.. hunger, homelessness, fight for survival. I sometimes wonder what would happen if they all decided to turn on me. I wouldn't stand a chance against this pack of cute little furry predators.

Omer, being a vet, loves animals and understands cats. He says I'm much too soft with them. I brought this upon myself. Now I need to show them who's boss. Communicate with them in a language they can understand. Shout at them, scare them, knock them about a bit. Get a bit Nazi on them.. they'll soon get the message and learn the rules quick enough.

Yesterday, Noah and I went raging around the house, throwing cats out of every door and window, all the while shouting at them in mock-German. It worked for a bit, but they were soon back, on the cooker licking the saucepan, in the kitchen sink, even in the fridge since they've figured out how to open it themselves. Twenty cats will never respect the rule of law. My house is turning into a mad house. I just need to accept my fate, embrace my reality. We're in it together.. me and my mad family of people and cats. It's us against the world.

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The authorities are closing in on us. Massive unpaid debts, as ever.. council taxes, village tax, electricity, water.. everyone threatening court action. Now the Ministry of Education too, breathing down our necks. In a series of bureaucratic hurdles, we stumbled at the last one, when the whole system went online a few months back. Somehow we could handle dealing with the human beings they send round from time to time from the education department, but not with the new automated application process. Now they're threatening to force us to send the kids to school. That's not going to happen. We're too far gone now and we'll go even further if we have to.

Who makes the rules by which we live our lives? What if we don't consent to be governed? Are we going to have to head for the hills all over again..?

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A multimedia family enterprise:

Here's what we're going to do.. Training the cats to perform in a traveling circus isn't going to happen, But they can still be stars of Instagram and the world-wide-web...

Using our mobile phones, and with Noah's expert guidance, we will build the cats a massive Instagram following. At the height of his fame, when he was about 14, Noah got himself about 30,000 followers on Instagram, sponsorship deals, all of that. He knows how it works by way of some instinctive understanding. To some people, such things are obvious. Meanwhile, we will get to work creating a computer game, a book and other possible multimedia spin-off projects which thousands of the cats' fans will flock to buy..

Further details I will not divulge.. this is one of my great, big ideas.. even better than my previous plan which involved teaching the cats to skateboard, walk the tightrope and do Irish jigs on two legs.. They're too unruly and only do what they're told if you shout it at them in German, which is a very difficult language to master.. lots of very long words.. grammatically complex..

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How can we as parents, mentors, guardians, educators, teach our children what they will need to know in life? What can possibly prepare them for the world they are facing? The fact is, nobody knows.. not really.

We can try to give them the opportunities we didn't have, growing up. Teach them what we know and what we wish we'd learned sooner. Try not to fuck them up too much in the process and hope for the best.. that's probably about the best we can do.

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++Tuesday 14th December++

They say a storm is coming. Hard to believe as it's been so warm and sunny all morning. Then again, the sky was full of trails the last few days and a strange, silvery haze has settled over the land. Just saying. I know that predicting the weather is a highly complex science and that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. Some things mean nothing at all.. just our tendency to look for patterns and then find them and give them meaning. Life is just a long string of coincidences after all.

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++Wednesday 15th December++

I have spent about four solid days making a guitar head. It's still not finished but it almost is. Oh yes, it's a work of art indeed, but not my best work. I still haven't done my best work. Maybe I never will. I wonder what's the point. It's only a guitar head. Hardly going to change the world.

Maybe I've already done my best work and it's all downhill from here. The way my eyesight is going, I may not even be able to see what I'm doing before too long.

Maybe the golden age has already been and gone. When was it..?

1967? Probably if you were the Beatles. Free love, flower power and all that. Maybe not so golden if you were a Palestinian refugee at the time.

1992? Just before the internet took off. Could we have imagined how it would change the world, so fast? It was good to be blissfully unaware.. not that we knew we were, at the time, of course. We didn't know what we were missing because it didn't exist.. it hadn't been invented yet.

2019? Sure, things were looking quite bleak, way back then.. but at least no one had ever heard the dreaded combination of words and numerals, Covid-nineteen...

Maybe the golden age is right here, right now, if you're very, very lucky.

Here I am.. lucky me.. the rain came and went.. more clouds are piling up over the sea to the west and the mountains to the north.. for now, it's warm and the sun's out. I'm sitting in my favourite place by the pond. The only sounds are the birds and the wind in the trees, a dog barking, some cars in the distance. All the ants are above ground now, some of them having sprouted wings after the rain.

Nature doesn't know or care what year it is, what day it is, what time it is. (Or what country it is, for that matter)..

When it's time to sprout wings, that's what the ants do. And then, even though they've never had wings before.. just like that, they start to fly. (No ticket, no passport, nothing) And we think we're clever!

Little fish darting about in the bathtub pond. I don't know how many generations there have been since I brought the first captives here from a pond in Hararit, or if those first fish are even still alive. I sometimes wonder if they feel constricted, living in a bathtub. Then again, relative to their size, their little world isn't really much smaller than my little world. They've got each other for company, no predators in the pond and plenty of rocks and plants to swim in and out of. It's a simple life, but a good one.

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Slither.io

The kids are into this video game called Slither.io. It's a very simple game and quite addicting. Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of children are playing Slither.io at any one time. It's a multi-player game so you're playing with actual people.. actually, against them, because the aim of the game is to eat the other players and not be eaten by them. The game itself doesn't end, it goes on and on endlessly.. but for the player, it usually lasts between about one and five minutes before you get eaten and need to start again.

To begin with, the players take the form of a little worm, swimming around in a big black space filled with shimmering spots of coloured light. It's a two dimensional space and there are lots of other different coloured worms, ranging from small to huge, all swimming about. Some of the worms are being controlled by actual people, some are bots, but for the purpose of the game, it doesn't really matter which is which. Players don't really interact with each other, other than to swim round each other, trying to get the other to collide with them. When this happens, it's game over for the one who collided. They disintegrate into a cloud of sparkly dots, which all the other worms can eat and grow bigger. The bigger you get, the more easily you can entrap smaller worms by encircling them. In the space of a couple of minutes, your worm could grow to a hundred times its original size.

When I first saw the game, I found it quite mesmerising to look at. It resembled nothing more than fish in a pond.. swimming around, eating food, avoiding danger. The sense of scale you get from the worms all being vastly different in size makes it visually interesting, and somehow natural-looking. I found it astounding that all those little worms were being controlled by children all over the world.

To play the game well, you need to enter a sort of fish-mind-state. I don't know if that's a good thing for children, or indeed for anyone.. but maybe there is a kind of Zen about it...

There is no right or wrong in this game.. only left, right, fast and slow. You're either in the game or not in the game.. that's all there is to it. When it's game over you can start again. It doesn't matter how big you got the last time around You always start out as the smallest worm in the whole flat world But still you're part of something bigger. It makes no difference if you succeed or fail (All ultimately fail in the end) Either way you fulfill your purpose in the game.. To become food for worms.

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++Saturday 18th December++

A very rainy day. Just how I like it. Makes me feel at home.

The yellow submarine room is full of mud and cats and water.. so are the other rooms. The garden has turned into a muddy swamp. All of the rugs, and blankets are hanging out in the rain. I let a bunch of cats stay in the house yesterday evening when I went out, because it was cold and stormy. By way of thanks, they shat all over the place.. on the bed, on the floor.. I can't leave them alone in the house by themselves, little gremlins. Still, I'm grateful to have this place. It's warm enough and mostly dry.

I went to a social gathering yesterday evening for the first time in a long time. Nice to know I can still do that sort of thing once in a while.. that I haven't lost all of my social abilities after all this time in my hermitage in the company of cats. Played some good music with old friends I don't see all that often these days.

Sometimes I have too many visitors and they all tend to be either hungry cats or guitar playing men hoping to find perfect intonation. I don't believe in perfect intonation. There's no such thing.

I remember meeting a busker on the street in Brighton one time. His guitar was in a bad state of repair and his voice was hoarse from singing protest songs. On his guitar were scrawled the words 'This Machine Kills Fascists' in marker pen. We got to talking. He was in low spirits, down on his luck and in need of a drink. He was in no mood to hear me enthuse about his music, his way of life and the freedom of being a wandering troubador. Of course, I had made the common mistake of trying to draw someone out of their depression by telling them how great their life actually was, if only they'd look on the bright side. That's when he quoted to me these lines from the Dylan song, Hurricane:

“'It's my work', he'd say. 'I do it for the pay. And when it's all over, I'd just as soon be on my way.'”

Sometimes I feel that way about making guitars too. Sometimes it's a long, hard slog, but it's still a thousand times better than working in an Amazon warehouse, for example, or down a cobalt mine, or a lot of other things I could be doing in order to survive in this age of late stage capitalism.

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The cats are responding better to my requests for them to respect my boundaries since I've started issuing them in a loud voice in German. They seem to regard me with more trepidation at least, but it takes a lot of energy to be a raging Nazi and makes for a fraught atmosphere in the kitchen. Usually I give up very quickly. I'm hopelessly outnumbered and their only instinct is to survive. They'll do whatever it takes. Nobody is at their best when they're hungry. It's a tough world out there, for cats.

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Thursday (I think).. December the something.. Late morning.

It's been a wintery week. Cold, rain, mud, fog. Finally, all the good stuff. In this part of the world, it sometimes feels like the summer will go on forever and the rain will never come. Autumn here means heatwaves, dust, forest fires and wondering if the next year will bring drought and war. It makes it hard to think straight when it's hot all the time and water is scarce.

The earth responds so fast to the rain. Like she's been waiting for it.. poised and ready to spring into action. Everything has turned green up here by the pond. What was dusty, brown earth and last year's dried up thorn bushes, is now suddenly covered in soft green grass and wildflowers which have sprung up like a wild, standing ovation.

I woke up late today. It was a long, cold midwinter night. Most of my blankets are still hanging out in the rain since the other night and the one I've got doesn't really keep me warm. Took me a long time to figure out what day it is when I woke up. I think it's Thursday. Weeks are flying past. Who knows where the time goes?

Last night I watched the new Matrix movie with Noah. I tried to impress on him the magnitude of the effect the original film had when it first came out, when I was about his age and he was yet to be born. He looked at me like I'm an old man, as he often does, but somehow it feels to me like the 90's were only yesterday.

I told him he can be a film star if he likes, like Keanu Reeves. I don't know if he would like. He's shy, like me.. doesn't like to be the center of attention. I don't think he believes me when I tell him he can be whatever he wants to be. I don't know if I'm a good example of that or not. I guess in some ways yes, in some ways no.

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++Saturday 25th December++

Christmas day, not that you'd know it round here. I was going to go to the midnight mass up at the monastery by Hararit. It's really one of the most wondrous ceremonies. The nuns who live up there, gather in the underground chapel which was carved into a cave by a solitary monk some years ago. Usually they don't speak, but on this occasion they fill the chapel with candlelight and frankincense and they sing all night.. songs of praise in many languages and beautiful harmony.

But last night I was feeling cold and tired and didn't feel like walking up through a forest in the cold and dark and then sitting in a cave with a bunch of other people, breathing in their breath and them breathing in mine. Especially with the new extra-contagious Omicron going around now...

OCD thinking has become normalised now. Encouraged. Fear of invisible germs, contaminants, contagion...

Z, our severely OCD afflicted house guest, would not allow anything to touch the floor. She insisted on her own cutlery, which no-one else was allowed to touch. Her own shelf in the fridge, lined with plastic bags. Nobody could touch that shelf or anything on it. Opening doors was a constant challenge for Z, since she couldn't touch door handles. A smell of disinfectant hung about her and she was always washing her hands. She avoided sick people like the plague. We were not allowed to even talk about sickness or death, as she believed that even certain words could somehow infect her. She was very superstitious.

I've been trying to instill a bit of magical thinking on Noah. He's very rational.. believes there's a logical, rational, scientific explanation for everything. I'm not anti-science, but I'm not averse to a bit of magical thinking either. I've seen to much weird shit. The world we see and experience is just the surface.

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++Monday 27th December++

When there is no standard for normal.. when nobody knows what is normal and what isn't, because they've never known it, or anything like it.. what then..?

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9 AM. Woke up slowly and read the news on my phone. So much for No Internet Month. Sure it's nice to be off facebook. I don't miss it, except for that I get bored with no one to talk to, no one to listen to.. even if it's just words on a screen and not actual face-to-face, physical connection. So instead I read the news, on my phone, imagining myself to be reading an actual physical newspaper or magazine, sitting in some imaginary physical place, far from here and long ago..

I think it's going to be harder to extricate myself from the Matrix than I thought. It's in my brain, in my habits. The world I imagine doesn't exist any more and I'm not there.

In the news... 5,000 migrating storks dead at the Hula Valley Nature Reserve, thanks to a bird flu outbreak spread from a nearby chicken battery. Too bad. Aside from the tragedy of a completely avoidable ecological, biological disaster, just down the road from here, there's the extra downer that we were planning to go there this week for Sunny's birthday. He'll be disappointed. These virus outbreaks keep on getting in the way of our plans. Is this just something we're going to have to start getting used to in the 21st century? Before you go out.. make sure to check the latest disaster reports, just to be sure your fun day out won't lead into some apocalyptic hellscape..

Also in the news.. numbers of people self medicating in order to deal with prolonged social isolation has significantly increased since the start of the pandemic. Something like 20% of over fifties are now alcoholics..

I pour myself another cup of coffee and light another joint. I've been awake for maybe an hour..

The thing is, if you're Keith Richards, or Willie Nelson, or Snoop Dogg, being stoned all the time isn't much of a problem.

It's not much of a problem because they've got so much money, they don't really need to work, and the work they do is what they'd do anyway, and they'd do it stoned.

Then again, like the Freak Brothers famously said, 'Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope'.. or something like that.

It helps with my inner work. Dealing with the pressure (real, imagined, internal and external) that comes from feeling that I need to be working all the time, productive all the time.

You'll find me up by the pond, staring into space. Now, if only I could find a way to get paid for doing that, I wouldn't have any problems at all.

When I think about the fights I have with Galit, so many of them come down to money and time. Of course, there's never enough time when you need to make so much money just to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, not to mention all the other expenses of having a family.

If you're Jeff Bezos, or Bill Gates, or Elon Musk, or Prince Charles, getting divorced isn't much of a problem.

Sure, the stress and heartbreak might still take years off your life expectancy and it may cost you a fortune in court settlements.. but let's face it.. if you're Boris Johnson or Donald Trump you're not going to find yourself sleeping on the floor of your workshop in the middle of winter, facing destitution and homelessness, just because you can no longer live with your spouse. Some people have got more than one house, bought and paid for, and money in the bank. I'm not saying that they don't have their own, different problems. I wouldn't want to swap places with Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos for a second. Being Keith Richards for a day might be fun though..

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++Wednesday 29th December++

“Yes it is.. just a machine .. but listen here .. it's not .. just a machine .. it's something else .. I don't know what it is .. but it will mess with your head .. that's all. It will try and get into your brain.. and it will get into your brain.. if .. you .. let ..it.” and the old woman tapped Greta on the forehead with her bony finger in order to emphasise the last four words. “If you let it, Dolly. That's all I'm saying.”

“I.. I don't understand”, said Greta, feeling scared...

I have resumed work on The Big Shift.. my utopian/dystopian novel set in a future where the world is ruled by a super-intelligent computer called O. It's a world divided between those who live within the system and those who live without it. It's mainly a children's story. I had to stop writing it when the pandemic started, partly because so many of the situations I was going to describe started happening in real time.. much sooner than I expected. But mainly, it was because I was trying very hard to completely avoid the issue of vaccinations in the story because I knew how controversial it would be.. so I've spent the last two years trying to figure out.. what exactly will be O's policy on public health. Now, finally, I think I've got a clearer idea.. if I can just somehow put it into words..

…........... . . …....................... . …........................ . …............................ .. …............... . . ….......... …

++Thursday 30th December++

I have just realised what the story is about. It's not what I thought. I thought it was about technology, or science, or the environment, or politics, economics or something like that. What it really seems to be about is trauma. What happens when a whole society goes through a massively traumatic event? How can we, as individuals and as society deal with it and heal from it?

Compassion, empathy, real human connection, connection to nature. Tolerance and humilty. Understanding that none of us alone has all the answers, but collectively we can do great things if we have the chance.

….......... . . . . …............... . .. . …..................... . . . . . …........................ . . . .. …............ . . . …........

++Sunday 2nd January 2022++

A new year! The sun's out and the birds are singing in the trees. My No Internet Month wasn't really a no internet month at all. I read the Guardian every day from cover to cover (as I imagined myself reading it sitting in a cafe on some street in England, before the age of the internet) but really, from top to bottom I was actually reading it online. I also watched a few good films and documentaries.. streamed on the internet, but in my imagination, I was watching them on an old TV set on BBC2 or Channel 4, or maybe on a video tape that someone recorded off the telly or that I borrowed from Blockbusters.

Mainly it's the month off facebook and a more conscious, measured approach to internet use that is the real retreat for me. Rest is so undervalued and so important, and that also includes resting the mind. It's not so easy to do. Especially in this day and age where we're constantly bombarded with so much information and expected to somehow respond to it all. As always, at this time of year, and this year more than ever, I really am in no hurry to get back to facebook. Maybe this time I won't.

For now you'll find me up at the top of the garden, watching the flying ants as they emerge from their subterranean metropolis under the bathtub pond, into the bright fresh day, after the storm. And watching Toby, the charming and mischievous black and white cat with a very pink nose, as he scoops up the flying ants with his tongue and enjoys his crunchy breakfast treat.

He doesn't realise it (and he couldn't care less anyway) but soon he'll be world famous. A star of the world wide web.

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Disclaimer: All characters (including the narrator) and events described here are an entirely fictional exaggeration of an imaginary life and are in no way meant to be taken literally or used as evidence in a court of law. Any resemblance to actual people (real or virtual) is purely co-incidental.

Still Gideon lives in London with his two cats, Rose and Rene. He writes technical content for an online magazine and drives an Uber at weekends. In his spare time, he collects wooden antelopes, practices Indian cookery, archery and roller skating.

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