Every so often, the sheer volume (in terms of both quantity and decibels) of stuff on the Internet overwhelms the spirit and sends even the most hardened Internet junkie to the couch to whimper and nap fitfully.
For example, as I write this, the "Latest News" section at cnn.com reads as follows:
Source: No evidence Blackwater was fired on
Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize
Putin warns U.S. over missile defense
Abortion just as common where it's illegal
Ticker: Coulter flap: Ideal America is Christian
Angry Turks ready to cut U.S. ties
Killadelphia': Driver shoots slow bicyclist Video
WSB: Key Atlanta water source running dry
Cuffed prisoners use feet to beat suspect Video
CNNMoney: Lipsticks test positive for lead
Music stars: We must still fight nukes
Writer suspected of dismembering girlfriend
Jury sees dying Princess Diana pictures Video
Britney Spears worried about kids' naps Video
Snoop Dogg to pick up trash
The lead story headline reads:
Prosecutor: Mom bought assault rifle for boy
Some important stuff. Some tripe. Who can tell the difference any more? I can't. Like a three year-old who has been too long at the mall or a 42 year-old who has been too long at a bank of nickel slot machines, I am tired and whiny and vaguely separated from my more rational self.
Humanity built this incredible communications pipeline. Now we're pounding it full of crap. It just makes you want to sit down at the edge of the information superhighway and cry.
Elsewhere on the Internet, people are shouting at one another. They're not listening to one another, and they're obviously not particularly concerned about the tone and manner of the discourse. The Tower of Babel has gone digital. Read the comments following any item. Go ahead. Bathe in the vitriol. Feel your stress level go up?
And it's all so addictive. So very addictive. It would be easier to quit smoking crack than to give up the Internet.
The great religious traditions all share a respect for (and teach) various forms of contemplative silence. The Internet babbles on like a chain smoking speed freak talking to his lunch counter cup of coffee at 3 in the morning.
It. Never. Shuts. Up.
And so to the couch, to try to be quiet; to heal a bit; to make it all stop, if only for a while.
I just have to see that thing about Britney's kids naps first.