Typing in the Time Before the Internet
I am a huge fan of typewriters (I have several), and I write in my diary with a fountain pen. I love these technologies. But I'm also fond of my iMac, I love the internet, I enjoy blogging and instagram. You know, the whole works. A few weeks ago I bought myself the pink typewriter that Michaels sells. It's made me feel all sappy and nostalgic for that "time before the internet."
There's nothing that dates you more than having a conversation around the typewriter on which you used to write your papers at University. (Mine was a Smith Corona with a pop-up screen which held about five lines of text and it had enough memory for a 12 page paper. State of the art).
I have always been interested in stories of people who quit social media and sometimes I toy with the idea of at least dropping Facebook. Back in February of this year, I read John Metta's piece titled, "I'm Done Drinking the Draught of Despair" which begins, "I'm out."
He goes on: "Drinking this liquid is not helping me accomplish anything. It is certainly not helping me sustain myself for what will need to be a significant and sustained effort. More to the point: it is actively harming me." In June, I shared (on Facebook) his "Bread Meditation." This seemed to resonate a lot, funnily enough. I've been consciously cutting back, but it's still not enough.
There are those of us who enjoy many aspects of social media, but are getting a little tired of the unsavoury aspects. By now have we all been told off by a few people, been ignored by those we thought were friends, and been unfriended in strange circumstances?
But I can also say that I've read books and blogs I wouldn't have found otherwise. I've seen beautiful and cool and unusual works of art. I've enjoyed countless breathtaking photographs. I've kept in touch with people I wouldn't likely have by email. I've found publishers for my books thanks to links that were shared. And I've shared links to my blog posts and gotten such lovely bolstering feedback.
Ms. Tippett: So you’ve used language like “creating the networked world we all want to live in,” encouraging parents to see this — social media and the internet — as an opportunity and not just a danger. What would you offer along those lines in terms of that adventure, of treating this as an opportunity, where to begin?
Ms. boyd: From my perspective, it’s about stepping back and not assuming that just the technology is transformative, and saying, okay, what are we trying to achieve here? What does balance look like? What does happiness look like? What does success look like? What are these core tenets or values that we’re aiming for, and how do we achieve them holistically across our lives? And certainly, when parents are navigating this, I think one of the difficulties is to recognize that this is what your values are, and they may be different from your child’s values. And so how do you learn to sit and have a conversation of “Here’s what I want for you. What do you want? And how do we balance that?” And that’s that negotiation that’s really hard. And so I think about it in terms of all of us — how do you find your own sense of grounding?
And so while the interview focuses on the internet lives of teens, I think these questions are exactly what we need to look at, as adults, too. What does balance look like? happiness?
For those of us who are authors of a certain age, we were told years ago that we needed to have a web presence, and then a social media presence. So in that context, I think we need to rethink the whole thing, and ask, What are we trying to achieve here? and is it actually working? What works for you as a human being who happens to be an author? How much do you want to give to this apparatus? How much time are you losing that could be spent writing?
How do we find the balance, and the sense of grounding, mentioned above?
My recent strategy is to take a couple of days off a week, almost entirely. I use the 'self-control' app on my computer more frequently. I write more emails. I try to use Instagram more than Facebook. I try to remember that I'm not an employee on social media – I don't have to be there clicking like on things.
What do you miss about life before the internet? What are your strategies for finding balance?