Writers often bemoan that fact that their days are fractured like a puzzle just out of the box because they need (want, are addicted) to checking online news, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodle+ and a variety of apps, newsletters and news sites multiple times a day.
I’m not sure writers are unique. Some people are so addicted to the grid that they can’t sit and have a conversation on what (we hoped would be) a quiet evening over dinner without constantly checking e-mail and/or answering every incoming cell phone call. It (this “need” to stay plugged into the grid as though we’re part of the BORG on Star Trek) is part of today’s world.
The need isn’t new. Twenty years ago we were asking why people went camping or hiking and had to take their portable TV sets and boomboxes with them (“serenading”) everyone else in the campground. This past summer while hiking in Glacier National Park, I saw more than half the other hikers had their earphones in for music rather than giving themselves an hour or so for experiencing the natural sounds from wind to water falls to birds. No doubt, they would also miss the warning growl of a grizzly hear on the trail as well.
As a writer, I feel the need to keep up (in case Hollywood calls with a movie deal, I guess) and if I’m not careful, I feel over-informed and maxed out by the day’s constant flow of largely extraneous input.
Perhaps we need to devise our own 12-step programs for spending less time plugged into everything else. An hour here and an hour there might get us used to being comfortable with bird songs, silence and the usually drowned out voice of our inner selves. An Internet and cell phone diet, perhaps, for enjoying the writing we’re doing, the books left to be read, or the sound of the wind through the pines.
In time, perhaps we’ll be comfortable with ourselves again.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of novels and short stories that take both protagonists and readers away from it all, including “Emily’s Stories” and “The Seeker.”