The Internet’s bad attitude

Crape myrtle in the front yard
Our gargantuan crape myrtle in the front yard.

I wanted to write a post about feminists, about how no one wants to be one, but then I thought, “No, Abby. More importantly, no one wants to read that.” So, I will keep it to myself. (You’re welcome.)

Guion said the other night at dinner that he wants the Internet to be a nicer place. He noted that nothing is worth posting unless it is a meme, preferably a sarcastic meme, or a jab at someone, preferably a famous someone. The Internet is all snark and no sincerity. At least, that is what Social Media has wrought. Heaven forbid I contribute to that snarky, pointless vortex, but I do. Every day. What’s the solution? How do we fix it? Get off the Internet. Take one’s dog for a walk and wait for seemingly endless minutes while she sniffs every sixth blade of grass. This, I have found, is the only solution to the Internet’s bad attitude.

I started three new books last night, each one quite different from the next: Binocular Vision, collected stories of Edith Pearlman; The Right-Hand Shore, by Christopher Tilghman, who runs Guion’s creative writing program at UVA; and The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, which won the 2011 Booker Prize. I liked noting how differently they all started their books.

On the subway Sophie recited the list of stations like a poem.

— “Inbound,” Binocular Vision

We see Miss Mary Bayly and her distant and much younger cousin Mr. Edward Mason sitting on the porch of the Mansion House on her ancestral farm, Mason’s Retreat.

The Right-Hand Shore

I remember, in no particular order:

  • a shiny inner wrist;
  • steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
  • gouts of sperm circling a plughole, before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house;
  • a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torchbeams;
  • another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface;
  • bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.

This last isn’t something I actually saw, but what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.

The Sense of an Ending

All possess very disparate styles and priorities, but so far, I’m enjoying each one.

I have thought: I will always be reading and I will never finish my to-read list. I will die not having read everything I wanted to, even if I read 100 books a year for the rest of my life. The other day, I whittled my to-read list down to about 156 books, down from about 270. But I keep adding more and the count is gradually creeping up. (I need some solid nonfiction recommendations, by the way. Mind-broadening books.) Some time, I’d like to discuss the troubling note of xenophobia that has crept into my reading preferences, but that’s a different boring topic for a different boring blog post.

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9 thoughts on “The Internet’s bad attitude

  1. Firstly: I would like to read what you have to say about feminism AND literary xenophobia. And secondly, as far as non-fiction, you might try: Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo); Zeitoun (Dave Eggers); At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Bill Bryson); Stuart: A Life Backwards (Alexander Masters); The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (Elisabeth Tova Bailey); Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller); Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef (Gabrielle Hamilton); and Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (Jon Krakauer). Also, I’m currently reading Goat Song by Brad Kessler, and it is lovely so far.

      1. I just finished Goat Song, and let’s just say that by the end I’d begun looking at listings for Vermont farmhouses and nubian goats and actually started crying in brokenhearted frustration when I realized it was totally unrealistic.

  2. Put Goat Song at the top…it is a truly lovely and brief read, but you feel like you have travelled far and wide in more than one dimension.

  3. Must recommend Mink River by Brian Doyle. It is poetry and prose all rolled into one. It is not non-fiction…not even close. It is just simply beautiful.

  4. I agree, many things and people on the internet do have bad attitudes and sometimes it brings me down and puts me in a bad mood. Glad I have interesting blog posts like this to read so I can take a break from all the sarcasm and snark 🙂

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