“From the first few days of using the form, I was hooked”
This is how Andrew Sullivan describes his jump into the blogging world. In his 2008 article Why I Blog, Sullivan expresses his love for the instant, fast-pace world of blogging. He vividly uses the metaphor of a ships log to highlight how he believes blogging is a
“more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal and more alive”
However writing My Distraction Sickness in 2016, Sullivan describes how he had to check himself into a meditation center to try and shake the technology that had been ruling his life for the past eight years. Even when writing in 2008, he described how he was hooked to this new medium of journalism, and describes later in 2016 how people can be “hooked on information” and not even know how addicted they are.
Sullivan’s need to withdraw himself from the media is reflective of the essay written by Rolf Dobelli, Avoid News : Towards a Healthy News Diet. Dobelli explains how “news is toxic to your body” as you find yourself in a state of chronic stress trying to keep up with all the new information. This is mirrored in Sullivan’s description of how his withdraw from media made him feel as if he was alone and worried about missing news stories.
Dobelli adds that reading news stops us from reading books or longer articles, our attention span declines the more news we intake. Sullivan similarly claims that he tried to distract himself by reading a book but found he couldn’t focus. He claims that his new online driven life, whilst still efficient, denies us the satisfaction and pride of workmanship and an identity.
Whilst Sullivan appears to have completely changed his view from the essay he wrote in 2008, he brought up good points which are still relevant to the importance of online journalism to today’s media. The way in which, now, almost anyone with a computer and access to the internet can become a journalist. Blogging gives people an new outlet that wasn’t available to them before – a free atmosphere to write their opinions.
In 2008 Sullivan described Blogging as “a golden era for journalism,” he later describes how “living-in-the-web” can be dangerous if not properly controlled. Online journalism is beneficial allowing just about anyone to become a journalist but like Dobelli wrote we need to be careful with just how much news we take in as it can lead us to become distracted from real life.
“This new epidemic of distraction is our civilization’s specific weakness.”