I’ve been on something of a vacation, although not the traveling kind. Mine was more of a stay-inside trip … stay way inside, because the “vacation” I took was away from the internet.
I don’t hate the internet, but neither do I believe it’s particularly good for me. If I’m on it for too long, I actually feel a little sick. I appreciate that, because it lets me know when enough is enough. It keeps me from getting sucked in.
Everybody has their own tolerance level where the internet is concerned, and I realize that mine is fairly low. Still, my mind is so much clearer when I pay attention to my limitations.
Here are some of the boundaries that seem to apply to me:
- The internet is awesome for research, absolutely amazing. But it doesn’t beat physically wandering through the setting for a book (when possible) or visiting libraries and other relevant sites. Tactile research remains the most satisfying.
- The internet lets you stay in touch and track down people you may never have found otherwise, which is a good thing. But it also makes it easier to blur the lines between acquaintanceship, friendship, and relationship.
- The internet is wonderful for business communications. Quick and to the point, it just makes sense. It’s not as great with social conversations. Without access to facial expressions and vocal inflections to help put words in context, it’s easy to misinterpret.
- The internet can breed a lack of accountability. Because there’s no need to actually face physical reactions, people say things online that they would never say to a real, live person. That’s too bad, because real, live feelings still get hurt.
Sometimes, “faster” isn’t “better.” My weeks away from the computer reminded me how much I love writing my original chapter drafts in longhand. The connection between mind and hand as ink flows onto legal pad feels vital. The slower pace allows me the time I need to record the scene unfolding before me. It makes writing a journey rather than a destination.
It’s loud online. With everybody thronging to social media platforms, how can most of us expect to be heard? Trying to stay relevant in the midst of the noise can be one of the most isolating experiences ever. Still, I know I can’t hide. I have to come back. This time, though, I hope to make use of the ways the internet works for me and jettison the rest.
And I’m stocking up on legal pads.