So what does this have to do with Frankfurt? He has an appealing view about what it is to care about something--it's to both want it, and to want to want it. You care about something when you're pleased by your desire for it, and you would be disappointed if the desire ebbed, and you'd even fan the flames somehow, to get the desire to return. Clearly, we want to read blogs, check email, and the rest, but do people want to want to do those things? Here's from that Charlie Brooker column:
Last week I realised the internet wants to kill me. I was trying to write a script in a small room with nothing but a laptop for company. Perfect conditions for quiet contemplation – but thanks to the accompanying net connection, I may as well have been sharing the space with a 200-piece marching band.That final sentence couldn't be more perfect. "Never quite touched the ground..." Exactly!
I entered the room at 10.30am. [snip] By 1pm I'd written precisely three lines of script. Yet my fingers had scarcely left the keyboard. My brain felt like a loose, whirring wheel that span with an audible buzz yet never quite touched the ground.
So stop, why don't you? That's what I think every time I read one of these harangues about the evils of our hyperconnected world. Stop whining and do something about it! The thing is, all these connections are potato-chippish and addictive, especially for someone sitting at a computer all day, waiting to have Deep Thoughts. So doing something about it might mean doing something drastic--like chucking the computer out the window.
OK, so we do stuff we merely want to do, but don't care about. So what? According to Frankfurt, so a lot. His answer to the perennial question "how are we to live?" is: with care. If your waking hours are filled with doing what you want to do, but not what you care about, then you're not living well.
Irony alert: yeah, yeah, I'm writing a blog post here, and you're reading it. We can see that. We're not stupid!