Reminders

Recently, being without Internet access for over a day was a reminder of how things used to be. (Don’t worry. I had enough chocolate to compensate.)

I’m old enough to remember when the Internet we know today was just an infant (when commercial ISPs became available in the late 80s to mid-90s). Back in the early 1990s, for me the word Internet meant the result of one of my volleyball serves. (Internet = into net or, if you’re from Chicago like I am, in da net. Ha, I crack myself up.) For interconnection, we had email on a pitiful scale where I worked—software we thought was cutting edge. We had no inkling of the technological advances soon to come. And that was back when I worked on a tiny Mac Classic at the office and later a larger desktop model—in the Mac II family.

At home, I had an old Mac PowerBook 160 with a 40 MB hard drive and four MB of RAM. You read that right. Four megabytes of RAM!!! Oh yeah, I was cooking with fire. Feast your eyes on this baby (below). I had to look on the Internet (namely here) for a photo of it, because that computer is long gone from my life! 

   Powerbook_100_pose-600x554  Shrine Of Apple: Macintosh PowerBook 160

Look at it. Cuddly, lovable. . . . Good times.

The guy at the computer repair shop I constantly visited begged me to get another computer. When the laptop finally crashed too often to be of any use, I went without a computer for a while, except for the one I used at work. And back then, I was at the office seven days a week sometimes. Around 2001, I finally moved on to my first PC—a Gateway with a 3½-inch floppy disk drive. Remember those? The disks seemed to corrupt really quickly. I lost the middle section of a novel when a disk went bad.

floppy-disks_o_1796171

I’ve since had other computers. But I won’t bore you with all of the details, since I began this post with a discussion about the Internet. So let me get back to that. Though the Internet is convenient and offers so much information right at the proverbial fingertips, ironically, I’m much more productive without it. In fact, I feel a little embarrassed by how much I accomplished while offline (namely, a huge chunk of my novel revision), simply because I was not checking email every five minutes, reading blogs and other articles, or looking up goofy cat pictures like this one (which I found here).

lolcatsdotcomlikemyself

Or this one (found here):lolcatsdotcom8dfwmlznjd0drnnz

Why am I embarrassed? Because, sadly, this proves how much time I usually spend procrastinating. I have only myself to blame.

I remember back in the 1990s when I used to goof off playing SimTower—the product of someone else’s fertile imagination (OpenBook Co., Ltd. and published by Maxis). I spent hours coming up with the right combination of offices, condos, elevators, and restaurants, trying to keep my tenants happy. I probably spent more time playing that game than I spent building my own fictional world. And that was when I was trying to break into screenwriting, particularly at the Disney Studios. Instead of revising my awful screenplay (which was 24 pages too long), I was stressing over whether some people in a computer game were happy. But what about the people in my story? I didn’t really know them. Unfortunately for them, I never paid attention with to them with my whole head. And by that I mean my mind and senses fully engaged.

  SimTower_Coverart Simtower

So, being without the Internet and its conveniences has caused me to think deeply about the ways I’ve often sabotaged myself by clinging to the convenience or entertainment of technology. I’m reminded of the wisdom of Andra Watkins of The Accidental Cootchie Mama blog, who once challenged her readers to unplug sometimes. (Sorry. I don’t have that exact blog post link.) When we make a conscious effort to unplug and get out into the world or get necessary tasks done, in some ways, we’re preparing ourselves for the coming zombie apocalypse, during which all technology will be useless and we have to get back to basics (like knowing how to swing an axe).

Do yourself a favor. Unplug. Unwind. And while you’re at it, perfect that axe swing.

Cats from LOL Cats. Mac computer from Old-computers.com. PowerBook 160 photos from Shrineofapple.com and Smashing Lists.com. SimTower images from Wikipedia. Floppy disk meme from here.

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31 thoughts on “Reminders

  1. Just as I was settling down for the final last night with my World Cup Crew my IPad packed up. Basically I and a few others watch the game and comment on a shared post on FB, humourous connected photographs etc. “Five hundred comments of crap!” my wife exclaims. We have done it all through the tournament-and just in time for the final my iPad went down. Cue a big, desperate scramble to get my old PC up and running, limited though that is. It was either that or just watch the game in social isolation, perish the thought.

    • Oh my, Andy! Isn’t that always the way? Just when you’re planning something big, something like that happens. And they have those commercials where a guy saves the day by showing the game on his iPad. Funny how they don’t show commercials where the iPad stops working!

  2. When I didn’t have power, I was shocked by how productive I was on my novel. Though I knew that I was easily distracted by the internet and email, I hadn’t realized just how much. Thanks for this challenge. Now if I could just find my axe…

  3. Way ahead of ya. I’m fashioning iPhone into axes and laptops into pressure plate security ‘devices’. (The Zombie apocalypse has already happened, it’s just that they don’t know they’re already the walking dead!) I only follow a couple of blogs, which includes yours, and I think my posts go onto Twatter. But I’m gradually winding it all down, because it think it’s mainly a waste of time. Fun, but ultimately a waste of time. Anything that keeps me away from the task of writing…
    The only thing I’ve enjoyed about my little venture into ‘space’ is the chummers* I’ve connected with all over the world. But hey, some of us still know how to write letters,postcards and dare I say it, emails, to keep in touch if we want.
    So, maybe see you in the woods. Bring a pair of binoculars to admire the natural splendour and an axe for everything else.

    *honorific title for oddballs like myself. (yes, you are an oddball, c’mon, say it out loud, ‘I’m odd and I’m proud!’)

      • I’m going native. Doing everything local. Writing and performing some of my stuff to anyone who’ll listen – but on a local scale. Sure they can buy one of my hand-made books and do what they want with it. They can tweet and blog about it if they like. They can even mention it on facebook. Spit. It’s just not for me. I’m so over working in the ‘industry’ (and I’m pretty sure it’s over me!) and just can’t be bothered to chase the money and play that game anymore. I’ve had two agents, worked in comics, tv and film and it all sucks.
        I may keep the blog up as an archive, but I don’t feel that it has a place in my new scheme. I’m writing more than I’ve ever done anyway, so why waste time telling people that I’m writing? I may post some pics from time to time, but who knows.
        Since I’ve started this new approach I’ve had someone from out of town wanting to start a Lit festival with me in my home town. As we don’t have one, it’ll be fun creating our own version – it’ll be more like a punk fest than a lit fest! But what does a lit fest look like anyway? I sure as hell don’t know,or care.
        So, as Douglas once said, ” So long,and thanks for all the fish.”

      • Your writing is more important, so I can see the need to cut back on blogging. I know a lot of people who have cut back when they have deadlines and such, so yes. Do what you need to do!!

        A friend of mine and I used to say “So long, and thanks for all the fish” quite a lot, along with “Have a picture of Queen Victoria” from The Goon Show.

  4. I remember floppy discs being easily forgotten in the machine. Then you turned it on to find the whole thing getting confused. That or you leave it in a computer lab machine and realize that you now have to rewrite your 200 page omnibus for your fantasy world. Or . . . you know, floppies were terrible.

    As for unplugging, I plan on doing it someday. Having it on my iPhone doesn’t help. I use lulls in what I’m doing to do a quick email check/delete/save for later. It’s that whole on-line marketing thing with me. I just can’t leave it alone for a day.

    • It’s hard to unplug when you have books out there you’re trying to market, and everyone is clamoring for your attention. Books are like children. You can’t leave them to fend for themselves. You have to help them along.

      Floppy disks have probably ruined more lives than many other things! I’m still mad about that novel. I have only myself to blame. I lost the backup set of disks. But I should have made more backups!

      • Then again, sometimes they don’t go anywhere even if you do help them. 😦

        Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many backups you have. One time I lost the computer file to a virus, the first floppy to a friend’s soda, and the second floppy just disappeared. Some files are simply destined to die.

  5. Unplugging is one of the best things! I did just under 3 weeks virtually without internet (in Brittany with my family) and it was lovely. I didn’t check twitter or blogging once, forgot all about my email and didn’t do much with my phone either. It was so refreshing! Glad you got to make good use of that internet free time and that you progressed on the novel.

    • Wow. That was a nice beak for you! And the phone too? That’s awesome!
      I haven’t been on Facebook or Twitter in ages. I’m afraid of getting sucked back into Facebook.

    • I need to make a regular habit of it. It’s interesting how you sometimes don’t miss the things you give up. I didn’t watch TV for years. Only last year did I start watching one show regularly (Agents of Shield). Contrary to what I’ve been told, I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything, just because I’m not watching a lineup of shows.

  6. Several of my kids study with music playing or go back and forth between games, emails, texting and studying. I don’t know how they get anything done. I like silence. I’ve been working on a new novel mainly on paper (I have to draft on the computer, but prewriting I like to do on paper). It has been great not being distracted by the electronics. Now if only the yard work would stop nagging me, I might get some serious writing done. Oh, and our first computer, circa 1983, was Kaypro with a 6″ green screen. We thought that was amazing. Of course, in computer programming class, we were using punch cards! (Okay, so I’m old!)

    • I hear you, Nancy! I like to have a journal handy to write in. I take it with me everywhere.
      Isn’t it amazing how quickly you can fill up space on a computer? I remember having a 20 GB hard drive and thinking I would never fill up that space. Ha! I was wrong. And that was ages ago. Look how far they’ve come now.

  7. So much power in the Internet to improve or impair ourselves, and where is it humans tend to lean? Of course… I think I’ll be breaking from blogging/gaming for a little bit to focus on a couple of things — My family and my current novel. Too much time spent on the wrong things right now. Nice post Linda. 😀

  8. I recently realized I’ve been spending way too much time on Facebook, so I’ve decided to participate in 99 Days of Freedom. I also downloaded an Mac App called “self control” that allows you to block yourself from certain websites for a set period of time. Even if you reboot your computer, Self Control won’t let you sneak back in. 🙂

    And let me tell you: I thought I knew how much time I was wasting. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve repeatedly found myself drifting unconsciously back to Facebook, multiple times a day, only to be stopped by my new app. O.o It really is boggling how addicted we get to this stuff…

    • I never heard about that app! I need that get that. Is it only for the Mac?

      I actually went through withdrawal when I was not online. Not as bad as when I quit playing the GameBoy cold turkey for a solid year. Talk about withdrawal. But it was worth the hassle!

  9. While I didn’t have a laptop back then, I remember my first computer: a 386 with 20mb harddrive and 4megs of ram. Good times. Good times.

    I find that travelling forces me to disconnect -especially on trips where I don’t bring my laptop. I seem to be a lot more productive too 🙂

  10. Unplugging is a difficult concept for me. I’m not big on social media, except for blogging and I don’t own an iPhone but my difficulty with unplugging comes into play with my day job. Even while on vacation, I’ll check and respond to emails…what is wrong with me?
    This post is an early Christmas gift for me. I plan to take an extended vacation during the holidays and I’m not going to check my emails! Thanks!

  11. I’m spending more time unplugged these days. Sometimes I go for a couple days without turning on my laptop. I work on a computer all day–and sometimes when get home, more computer time is the last thing I want. However, I need to spend some more time getting my WIP whipped into shape for getting to beta readers. It’s close, but not there yet. Congratulations on the huge chunk of novel revision!

  12. I read this with interest and a smile. Everything you say about the internet rings true – I think maybe we should have at least one day a week where we force ourselves to unplug and live normally! I get far too side tracked in this wonderful blogging community to ever stick to a task in hand ( at the moment it’s some serious editing of a couple of short stories) – I need some discipline back in my life!

  13. Gargoyles!!! 😀

    Very excellent advice. “Multi-tasking” as most people see it, which usually involves checking internet-y things each time they update, actually reduces productivity so much that it’s like you’re badly sleep-deprived even if you aren’t. Given that many people are… Well, it, definitely doesn’t help.

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