By Lori Widmer
The younger generation inhabiting my residential orbit these days are connected. By that I mean they’re tweeting, updating Facebook, and spending quality time with smart phones, netbooks, and WiFi connections. I think it’s great how we’ve transitioned to a more technical-savvy culture, but also I think it’s a shame. We now live among vast amounts of noise.
Sitting in restaurants, riding in cars, walking side-by-side on the street, connected people are ironically completely disconnected as they text, talk, and generally ignore the people right next to them. Living without a text message is tantamount to being shipwrecked without water. And can someone really spend six solid hours playing on an iPhone? Yes indeed. I’ve witnessed it personally.
I love having these tools. I’m missing the smart phone (mine is, by comparison, rather dim-witted). They enhance my writing business tenfold. But I think they’re making us stupid and putting a rather large wedge between us and our creativity.
As creatives, we often get caught up in the noise and don’t realize it. It came to me once after buying a new swing and sitting down on it for ten minutes. The moment my feet left the ground, the noise evaporated. And an amazing thing happened – ideas came flooding in. One of those ideas resulted in my first finished novel manuscript. Those ideas came without the help of an iPhone, netbook, Kindle, or laptop. Just my brain and me at rest.
Try it. Try going one hour, one afternoon without Internet, text messaging, or computers. Take a break from technology and remember what it was like to listen to your life without the hum of fans and buzz of cell phone messages. Go somewhere quiet with a pen and paper in your pocket (remember those?), and let your mind slow down. Then see what happens.
I value the disconnection almost more than the connection. Next week I’ll be in a place where cell phones don’t get signals and Internet connections are miles away. It’s a recharging of the soul, and one I look forward to every year. Every year, I take my notebook and pen. Every year, it comes back sporting evidence of a mind unfettered. When a writer asks me how to get ideas, I say do it by tuning out.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu