04 March 2014

Addicted to Distractions: An Epiphany for a Snow Day

There is something comforting about writing in Word.  Some people are Mac people, some are Scrivner fans.  But typing in Word is like coming home for me.  Ideas just seem to flow faster when I’m tip-tappng away on a blank screen with a familiar toolbar at the top and rulers all around me.
~ Mikaela D’Eigh

Beginning in January and continuing throughout the year, I’m participating in the One Page a Day writing challenge.Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have 365 pages worth editing.  I’m also trying to follow My Plan for 2014. I may need therapy by December.  Oh wait…

had an idea.  I thought it was a great idea.  I thought that I would revolutionize the world with this idea; people would fall over themselves to join me.

I was going to go social media-free for a month.

Sounds great doesn’t it? I mean, there have been studies that show that too much time on the internet in general and immersing oneself in social media specifically, makes it more difficult to connect with real people in real time. 

There are even retreats where you can pay to be unplugged – no cell phones, no computers, no internet (no pool, no pets).

But I was going to go cold turkey and not pay anybody.  Just some quiet time with me, myself, my books, my music, and my writing.  And an old fashioned phone call or two to stay connected.

Then the first big snow-storm hit the Washington, DC area.  I was cooped up in my house for four days.  The power was on, but the internet was not.

I felt like I was ready for my Shining debut.

The inability to check my Twitter feed; the inaccessibility of my Facebook notifications; the sheer isolation engendered by email silence turned me into a real live member of the walking dead.

How the hell did I think I was going to last 30 days!?

Day 3 was the worst.  I thought my brain had caught fire, but not in a good way.  Nothing interested me:

All my books were read and the ones that weren’t were boring.
My friends weren’t worth writing to because I was stuck in my house - I was boring.
The movies I owned?  Boring. (Even the ones I hadn’t watched yet.)
Walking outside in the snow, enjoying nature was boring.
Sleep? Boring.
Even eating had become boring.

Bored. Bored. Bored!  I had become Sherlock Holmes waiting for a case – minus the massive attention to detail and the drug habit. It wasn’t until Day 4 that it struck me. 

These were withdrawal symptoms.  I am an internet/social media addict.

More to the point, I am a distraction addict.
Image credit Liberty Voice
Without that constant hum of social media and email alerts hitting my phone or pinging my brain, I was a basket case.  I couldn’t function.  It was like my brain, accustomed to operating at high speeds and rapid multi-tasking, was forced into a traffic jam on the the beltway. 

All that mental energy – nowhere to go.

Why didn’t I channel that energy into reading?  Or writing long letters to friends.  Or hell, writing anything!? 

When I’m engaged in working on a project, I’m constantly bemoaning that I don’t have enough time to write.  Well, there I was with loads of time to write, write, write, my brain on high alert, and....nothing.

It was demoralizing.

Obviously, since I wrote this (on Day 4 actually) I had a break-through. I don’t know what did it; perhaps there is a period of time for mental detox just like for any physical detox and I just hit the last part of it. 

Maybe now my brain would get used to the slower, almost stand still pace and would re-adjust itself and allow me to write and dream, and write some more.

I never found out.  Day 5 saw the roads cleared, the trains running, and it was back to work, back to multi-tasking, back to business as usual.

But I learned two valuable lessons during those four days.  That I indeed was addicted to distractions and needed periods to detox.  

And that there was a positive side to all this social media that we lament. 

But more on the second lesson in a later post.  Time to check my notifications.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Are you addicted to distractions?  Do you try to detox? How?

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