Thursday, May 03, 2012

Take a Sledgehammer to Social Media Day

Most people I know my age are pretty phobic when it comes to computers and email and social media.  I may be a 'grown up', but I'm no stranger to technology. You could say I grew up as an ultimate early adopter. 

When I was in Junior High, our district was given a mainframe computer from one of the aerospace companies on Long Island. I think the school plunked it in the Junior High because there was no where else in the district that had a big enough air conditioned room for it.

So I joined the nascent computer club. This was in the mid 70s and I learned basic and a smattering of other computer languages, programed silly games on punch cards and generally thought of computers as something to mess around with.

Fast forward to college, where I had the opportunity to write papers in a room full of dumb terminals instead of a typewriter. Mostly, I stayed with the typewriter, because I rarely had my act together to write the paper longhand before heading to the computer lab where there was a time limit on using the terminals.  Then in graduate school in 1984, when I realized a huge part of my program would include writing a thesis based on original research, I persuaded my parents to front me the money to buy a personal computer.  The IBM's were the top of the line, but way too expensive.  Radio Shack has just come out with an improvement to their TRS-80, a model that had TWO 5 1/4 floppy drives, so you could load the program in one and save the files in the other.

Computer, complete with green glowing screen, and a loud dot matrix printer with fan fold pin paper cost nearly $1000. in 1984 dollars. And the "P" the model number stood for PORTABLE. Really.  Stop laughing.

Today, my ipod touch has more computing power and fits in my pocket.

I graduated from the 'trash 80' to a Compaq, to a PC that had a COLOR monitor and ran DOSCommander, a  kind of pre-windows shell to manage commands. Then windows came out and we had a series of windows machines, each with its own quirks and issues.

Now I have an HP laptop, an android tablet, and an iPod touch and I'm always on, always connected with a social media presence I never would have thought possible in the days of dial up modems and TCP/IP.

When I stop to think about it, it's pretty overwhelming, actually.  I can only imagine my 12 year old self looking at me in 2012 and thinking that I live in a Science Fiction universe. Practically nothing happens in our world without telling someone (or many someones) about it. We tweet, we FB, G+, Blog, and Pin. It's like we're never alone anymore.

Hardly 5 minutes goes by without one of my electronic vices beeping at me.  Ray Bradbury has a short story called 'The Murderer' about this. Go look for it, if you've never read it. He was pretty damned prescient about our wired up future. While I may not be ready to take a sledgehammer to my phone or my ipod, I do think I need more time without external distractions for my creative process.

This morning, I did a small thing.  I didn't check any social media with my morning coffee.  Instead, I let the  silence in the house keep me company while I worked on hand writing revisions to a manuscript. 

And then I sat and blogged about it.



  1. I'm listening to the audiobook "Imagine: How Creativity Works" by Jonah Lehrer. One of his tenets is that creativity can get a boost from unplugging and letting the mind wander a bit. Maybe that's part of my resistance to revision (beyond that I ... I won't say hate, but dislike very strongly, the revision process), I'm plugged into various networks, podcasts, and audiobooks, on top of volunteer activities and everyday family management.

    I think I'll follow your example and "surf the ambient" more often. Who knows, maybe I'll get a blog post out of it too. ;-D

  2. Boy we've come a *long* way. I wouldn't have a novel if it weren't for word processing programs. You'd understand that if you'd ever tried to read my handwriting... I had teachers in school thank me for typing papers....

    One minor technical nit though - TCP/IP has not gone away. It's a lot further under the good now, but the layer is still there, forming the foundation to create more complex protocols like HTTP.

  3. @Anne I wish I were better at unplugging, actually. :) Starting with baby steps.

    @Kathryn I do miss the modem song. LOL. My work/study job in grad school was doing medline searches for researchers through all the different libraries Columbia belonged to. Back in the day, you had to telnet into each library and each one had different commands. We had a notebook for each one.

    It's where I learned how to do Boolean searches. Today, you'd just head over to pubmed and type in your own search terms. I'd be out of a job! LOL.