On Virtual Breaks, Internal Monologues, and Reggie Bush

There is an article today in the NYT (fyi: I read the Times!) called “I Need a Virtual Break. No, really” in which the author discusses how he forcefully worked some peace and quiet away from all methods of communication into his routine and how it benefited his life. This rang true to me because I have serious issues letting go of my communication devices (literally. I fall asleep most nights clutching my cell phone with my computer on in my bed). This is not healthy.  

I’ve been on the other side of the technology coin. When I was finding myself (and other things) in Eastern Europe, I did not have a cell phone for 100 days. I wrote longhand in a journal-thing. I read 16 books. I even used phonebooths! I remember discussing these feelings of internal and external solitude with the Big Cat:
BC: Remember cell phones?
KA: What?
BC: Cell phones? Remember them?
KA: Yeah.
BC: They were pretty convenient.
KA: I know.

We’d spent so much time with ourselves and without the use of modern technology that we were starting to get nostalgic about it. On some levels, this was great. Internal reflection, peace of mind, and not having to ignore ubiquitous “:-(” messages from my father, once my younger brother taught him how to use the texting feature, were all hella (NorCal shout out!) positives. But then we rented a computer in Prague. And all bets were off.

We attacked the Internets like hungry dogs, each trying to wake up earlier to first get a piece of the world wide web action. The computer became a new, new thing to fight about, and our complete cold-turkey experience without it had done little to quell the internal feelings that us Web 2.0 humans feel: Namely, who has been friending me on Facebook?!?!

So I guess my point is this: as writers, we spend so much time with technology in one way or another (just by the act of sitting at our computer) that–for us, perhaps more than most– actively cutting yourself off from that sort of thing is a hard, hard task. But writers especially need their time away from technology, away from the fast paced world of the ‘Net, and within themselves. It helps us make connections, it helps us figure out what we’re trying to do, and–most importantly– it doesn’t give us an excuse to go on thesuperficial.com and look at pictures of Kim Kardashian grinding with Reggie Bush.

Explain away your own technology-induced or fearing habits in the Comments section (located below!). I hope your weekend was well above-average.

Deja Vu,
(Uptown Baby)

Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz

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16 thoughts on “On Virtual Breaks, Internal Monologues, and Reggie Bush

  1. Dulcie

    My prior career had me glued to tech gadgets…once I got a call from a client and had to leave the beach because the sand was in my laptop rendering it useless. I went to the office in my bathing suit. Only person that saw me was the janitor but I had to get the news out…damn technology. I miss the days where deadlines were met and I could wipe my hands clean for a job well done from laying out pages of a newspaper all night till the wee hours of the morning. Of course then going home to crash entirely clothed and waking up starving or with a grease hangover from the pizza we picked at all night! After getting deathly ill; and staying that way I no longer work in the tech attached career but my house has five computers and two laptops. I should state that only two people live in 900 sq. feet. So now I have an annual vacation where I ban taking any computers or cells (or I lock the cell in the car)so my brain can stop swirling like the navigation icon in the upper right corner of the browser. Even better is buying the nice leather-bound journal to write in while I am away. The smell of leather and fresh paper always do something to me. Oh and my last rule is to write only observations of my trip and the surroundings of my location. The actual tastes of food and wine and how wonderful I feel after a massage or tackling a huge mountain on foot or skis becomes so much more interesting than if I just sat here and typed them into the ole’ laptop.

    It is like heaven and I come back dreading having to type in all I wrote while being wireless in the true sense of the word.

    My grandmother was a librarian for 50+ years and I guess her teachings of journal writing and the use of great pens and papers will never die as long as I live.

  2. Anna

    I don’t know if "getting away from it all" actually helps your writing project – it just gives more room for it. Clears up the clutter so-to-speak. This from someone who spends most of her time "away from it all"

  3. Tom

    "…light the lights! It’s time to get things started on the Muppet Show tonight!
    "It’s time to put on makeup! It’s time to dress up right!…"

    My nieces love that show, and fortunately for the three of us, they own it on DVD. We’ve rehearsed those lines many times, with choreography, natch.

    Alphasmart doesn’t even have a theme song. Boring!

  4. Jessica

    Following my reading of Tom’s well researched comment, I feel as though some other, perhaps more pertinent information such as how that song on the old Muppet show went, may be lost forever, for my now knowing what an Alphasmart is. "It’s time to play the music, it’s time to…" Yep, gone forever.

  5. Tom

    All right, I caved, and you were right, Big K, opening up that extra tab and Googlizing was pretty long and tiring, but I’m one of those guys that’s willing to go the extra mile (provided there’s some free coffee in it for me, or, preferably, a low-fat vanilla latte).

    As I had surmised (not only do I go the extra mile, I surmise), Pat’s nifty little tool is also known as a Neo or a Dana, depending on the model, and it is a nifty little word processor, a downsized laptop suited specifically for word-related pursuits only, and a bargain as well, with the Neo priced at $219!!!!

    Not surprisingly, I believe I’ve seen an ad for the Neo in a writing magazine that you work for, Kev…name’s on the tip of my tongue…Writer’s somethingorother. I’ll have to Google it, but I’ve already opened one extra tab for the day, so don’t expect the results quite so quickly.

  6. Kevin Alexander

    Kristan,
    Totally agree that the old days of calling people and having to do, like, actual research seem impossibly taxing and socially devastating. I’m trying to get to the point where it’s cool to just text message my interviews. That, friend, is progress.

  7. Kevin Alexander

    I just realized I don’t know what an Alphasmart is either. I could probably look it up right now, in real time, and then explain what I found, but that would require opening a new tab and that would take my hands off the keyboard and, like, take some sort of very extensive effort. Regardless, if Pat owns it, I recommend buying stock. Pat–like Ramsey–sets trends.

    Oh, and Pat: Kim Kardashian is no Elizabeth Hasselbeck even if she has her own reality show and went out of the way to release her own "unintentional" (but professionally edited!) sex tape. Lizzie H., as she’s made clear on The View, only uses sex to pro-create.

  8. Tom

    I’m on board with Kristan here. They had a free trial period on wi-fi at Starbucks my first week I started frequenting the place, and I didn’t even realize it was a trial period. Later on came the "WTH???" when it wouldn’t work anymore, and I just went, "Well, I’m better off without it." But, for the sake of argument, what the hell is up with Starbucks NOT having free connectivity???? I mean, hell, the two independent coffee shops within a block of it both have it free. I love those places and give them money whenever I can, but ‘bucks is open until all hours of the night, and those are my usual writing hours.

    Similar to Kristan, while I did not click on KK’s grinding picture, last night I went, "Okay, what’s this thesuperficial.com all about, anyway?" I entered the address into my browser, and then my life was either ruined or enriched in uncountable ways. And by enriched I mean irretreviably lost forever.

    Damn you, Kevin. Damn you Ramsey for showing Kevin.

    To keep this all pertinent and writing-related, last night I did get at least a page done on my current story…before I decided to browse thesuperficial.com and waste the rest of my evening (and laugh a lot, I’ll admit to crying with laughter).

    Hey, Pat mentioned the AlphaSmart. What’s that? Never heard of it. Should I own one? Buy stock? Rent? Talk about it in hushed tones? Blow it off as another tech gadget that I don’t need, like a Treo. (I still don’t know what those are, either.)

  9. Kristan C.

    I am so ashamed. I actually clicked on the Kim Kardashian picture. Talk about somebody famous for being… somehow famous. I don’t know why, but I did, and now that image is seared into my brain. At least until the next Britney pic comes along, I suppose. It’s always something.

    OK, so, a comment on the World Wide Interweb Machines: I lurve it. My job would be heinous without it. And I know this to be true because two former editors, who came of journalistic age in the days prior to the interbunny, when they had to actually CALL people and do actual real long RESEARCH for information, have told me so. Yeah, the email is a distraction, but four of the seven addresses I have are for work, so… there.

    And what would life be without the Fug Girls? Sad, dreary and full of plaid leggings, that’s what.

    But I do understand and also require distraction from the distraction, that peace and quiet. Which is why it’s nice to know that Starbucks remains one of the few places in this world that DOESN’T offer free Wi-Fi, thus making it the perfect destination when I need a place where I can actually concentrate on writing and not on AVOIDING PICTURES OF KIM KARDASHIAN.

    Just my two cents, dredged from underneath the couch cushions.

  10. Pat

    When I need a virtual break I usually take my AlphaSmart and head for Borders (in winter) or the dock (the other 3 seasons) with fresh air and sunshine. Of course the dock is much preferred. What a difference this break makes in the quality of my writing and my writing time!

    There are moments when I really hate this technical world we live in—the fast pace, the addictional (is that a real word) need to communicate instantly, etc. I resent cell phones ringing in quiet peaceful places.

    What’s with the Kim Kardashain? Have you lost your love for Elizabeth Hasselbeck? From blondes to brunettes, when did I miss this?

    Okay, I have to go now my cell phone is ringing.

  11. Kevin Alexander

    I’m glad you aren’t hating Rams. We don’t need no hateration. And I will give you public credit for discovering that site "like four years ago". Since your move to NYC, you’ve become very trendy.

    Tom,
    If I ever get a text message from you trying to convince me to attend a gala bash with Kim Kardashian, I will most certainly NOT ignore it, even if it isn’t you. Gala bashes are usually off the hook.

    And MySpace creeps me out unless I’m trying to listen to trendified underground hip-hop artists (Shout out Cool Kids!!) so I can brag about them to Ramsey. There are too many options to trick out your page. I feel like I’m going to have a seizure every time I look at the Myspace page of someone under the age of 20. Also, the fact that I might be looking at someone’s Myspace page who is under the age of 20 is also slightly disconcerting. Hmmmm. I just re-read my comments and they seem only vaguely logical. I should probably stop writing.

  12. Ramsey

    Seriously, how money a website is thesuperficial.com?

    Maybe you want to start taking some notes from them on how to write some funny material (not hating, just some constructive criticism for my boy K Man)

  13. Tom

    Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting too much time on Myspace, but that may be about it. There must be something wrong with me. I have a Facebook account, but I forget it’s there most of the time. Sometimes I use my cell phone so little that I only need to charge it after three days have passed, and it’s not all that close to running down still. I don’t even know who Kim Kardashian is.

    I would say that it’s sometimes hard for me to leave my web browser and my email program turned off when I’m writing. If that gets to be serious problem, though, I got to a cafe where they don’t have wireless, and I’m good, at least for a few hours.

    I’d say, if anything, I feel like I don’t utilize the advantages of technology enough. I have no texting as my part of my phone plan. My phone doesn’t have a camera or video. I don’t know anything about Bluetooth. Somehow I feel like I’m missing out on something. Actually, those things don’t bother me as much as the fact that I don’t know everything about Photoshop Elements yet, or that when I submitted something a few months ago I had to call my brother and ask how to format something in as an RTF. I should know this stuff already, or so I tell me.

    I guess the good thing for you, Kev, is that you now know that if you ever get a text message from me, it’s not me, but someone pretending to be me, and you can ignore it, especially if it’s about attending a gala bash with Kim Kardashian.

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