Writing Life

Internet and Sunshine

Michelle’s thoughtful post got me thinking and rather than expound in a lengthy comment, I decided to post myself.

The subject is technology versus a pause: to simply be, noticing, smelling roses, sipping coffee, watching raindrops, or standing in the sun.

I spend hours at my computer aside from writing, online in the blogosphere, reading articles, communicating in assorted netty ways. When the internet is down for any reason, I check every few minutes to see if it’s back up. I feel odd, out of touch, isolated, hampered.

But I wonder what it is about the internet that takes me away from many other things I love to do, and take me away it does. Part of that is a universal experience. I think we all know that the internet does something to time. It hasn’t been scientifically proven, but there is a warp in the space-time continuum when you’re online. You look at the clock and a minute later look at it again and several hours have passed, more at night.

It’s also a universal experience, at least in our society, to feel guilty about pausing. Sitting at a computer is doing something, it is busy and productive looking. To pause, look, consider, be, is considered wasteful. To disdain it is the Protestant-become- American legacy of the work ethic and financial success, proof of God’s approval.

For me there is all that and this too: I don’t have computer baggage. When I was a kid, computers took up whole rooms at universities and government institutions. There were no pc’s, there was no world wide web. Nobody told me I was no good at it, didn’t deserve it or shouldn’t waste my time with it. That is true about nothing else in my life.

Absolutely every other thing, writing a book, sewing a seam, skating around an arena, swimming a lap, taking a photo, drawing a picture, reading a book, hammering a nail, baking a cake, choosing a nice shirt, carries with it memories of criticism, threats and punishment.

For me the pause is time out of the past and time in to the present. The challenge is to carry that time-in back to all the non-computer related activities that make life peaceful and pleasurable. We are here to do that which makes our hearts sing. Online, offline, I don’t think it matters. It is the song that matters, and the purpose of the pause is to hear again the tune.

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10 thoughts on “Internet and Sunshine”

  1. I have been there with you of late — thinking about stretching past this machine that tethers, dreaming of sitting, being. More and more I move away. Away and here — both become disorienting.

  2. I really liked Michelle’s post too. And I understand exactly what you mean about having no computer baggage. I turn to blogs as a support function; when I’m down or low or physically challenged, I click through a few, check on my friends, see what you’re all doing. It feels gentle and easy and sometimes helps me get to a better place. I wake up in the morning reading what’s happened while I’ve been asleep. Sometimes that self-comforting function of the internet means I stay on it as an avoidance measure of something else! But I know I’m doing it. The pause is something I’ve really had to learn, and it felt so wrong and odd at first, but now I can sometimes get annoyed when anything interrupts my pauses! Balance, measure, it’s odd but true that we have to be thinking of them all the time to achieve them.

  3. Lilian, thank you for writing such a lovely response to my post. I enjoyed reading this very much. I’m glad that computers and interneting are baggage-free activities for you, that must feel so liberating.

    Finding how to pause is very tough…I’m sure this is something I will always struggle with. I have all the tendencies of a work-a-holic and am continually having to check myself. Having a little one helps, because she requires my full attention. I’m thankful for her for that, for helping me learn to turn away from the constant pull of work.

  4. I’m a bit late to this discussion, but it’s a topic that’s been on my mind a great deal of late, and I wrote about it myself yesterday.
    I’m trying to “unplug” myself at, least a little bit, because I’m feeling so fragmented and frenzied, and I think the internet may have something to do with that – or at least the semi-compusive way I’ve been using it.

    So, I’m trying to be a good parent to myself, and limit my time, with the hope that I will be able to “pause” and enjoy more of real life.

  5. How interesting that for people who’ve been around a while, me included, computers don’t carry childhood baggage other things can. It’s great that computers provide you a space free from the past — and I certainly appreciate the fruit of the time you spend online!

    1. Thanks so much, Dorothy. I’m currently waiting for my new laptop to arrive and getting this one ready for my older d. It’s the perfect time while waiting for editors’ notes. (Last night I dreamed that I got a paper ms with yellow post-its and hand written notes from her–but I’m assuming she’ll send a word file with the reviewing toolbar activated.)

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