Here’s a surprise – I am not about to tell you all about the times I’ve broken my laptop, or the way that my camera considers me the devil incarnate and therefore refuses to work on moral grounds, or the fact that the data counter on my phone stopped counting for four days leading me to almost go over my limit, even though all of these are topics on which I am quite the authority.
I am going to talk, instead, about why I haven’t written so many blog posts this week.
I decided on Sunday evening that technology was stressing me out, not just because it rarely works when I am operating it, but because with Facebook or a mobile, you’re always there. You’re always available, and people know that if they call you, they’ll be able to speak to you. If they send you an email, you’ll reply within a day or two. Unless you’re a literary agent, you can’t get away with unread messages in your inbox.
So, I decided to take a break. The rules were simple – no technology for three days, with a couple of exceptions. My watch was one, for obvious reasons. I also decided that my MP3 player was necessary to help me sleep due to the noisy radiator in my room. Finally, I was allowed to check my phone in some situations. For example, I have a string group on Monday evenings and last minute cancellations are quite common.
It didn’t go brilliantly, as I was required to use my school email account on the Monday to make some arrangements with my head of year. I did notice the absence of my laptop in the evening, though – suddenly I had so much time! I used it to finish some Sherlock Holmes stories I was reading, get some work done, and write (by hand).
Tuesday went even worse, as my temperamental MP3 player, Neil, decided to break again, and I was required to reboot the firmware. You don’t need to know what that means, technophobes – suffice it to say that it requires a computer, and of course I couldn’t resist checking my emails!
While it was ‘working’ I took the opportunity to type up everything I’d written on paper in those two days, about 4000 words in all. Many thanks to those who asked.
By Wednesday, I’d basically given up. I took my usual lunch time blogging time off my list and got some paper-based homework done, before briefly checking emails, but in the evening I’m afraid to say I rather reverted to my old ways. Admittedly, I had a piece of music to finish working on, but did I really need that much time on Tumblr, redoing my profile and changing my url? (you can now find me here)
The honest answer is probably not.
I learned several things from this not entirely failed technology ban. The first was that if you don’t use a computer in the evening, you have much more time to do other things, like read books.
The second was that writing on paper can be a rewarding experience. I write double spaced on narrow ruled A4 paper when writing fiction longhand, and it’s much more satisfying to see twenty pages than a few thousand words, isn’t it?
The third was that, these days, there’s so much emphasis on technology as a way of communicating that just turning off your phone for two days or not checking emails can mean you miss thing’s
At the time they seem ever so important, but when you go back to clean out your inbox… It wasn’t that worthwhile, was it?
And just think – while you were having those ever-so-important email conversations, you could have been reading The Case-book Of Sherlock Holmes and enjoying a relaxed cup of hot chocolate.
How about it, next time the world demands your time? Say no, and take a break. If they’re still there when you get back, it’s important enough to deal with it. If it’s not, then I’m sure you got a lot more out of whatever else you were doing, don’t you?