Digital Age Woes

8 03 2012

In an industrial society which confuses work and productivity, the necessity of producing has always been an enemy of the desire to create.”-Raoul Vaneigem

As a so-called creative person, sometimes the whole “computer age, hand-held device, linked-in with the world” society in which we live bogs me down. From someone whose whole educational experience relies on the computer and internet, this seems fairly hypocritical. I know.  Yet, as an outspoken middle-aged blogger, I must honestly relate my experiences.

Bogs to the Blogger

In my life, time constraints tend to be one of my biggest woes. If only I had another hour, I could finally write that story that’s chewing a hole in my subconscious. If only there were 50 more minutes, I could polish that piano piece and be ready to perform it for an audience.  With an additional 30 minutes, I could walk a few more miles on the treadmill and enjoy a slice of chocolate mousse afterwards (okay, that one probably isn’t a good example).  All of the electronic gadgets that make things easier and more convenient also lead to time-wasting.

I waste the precious, unrecoverable commodity of time:

  1. Surfing through online catalogues and filling shopping carts with items I’ll never purchase;
  2. Checking out new apps for my iPad2;
  3. Playing all the games I’ve already downloaded onto my iPhone and iPad;
  4. Previewing videos to post with my blog (after all, I have to choose the perfect complement to my writing, don’t I?);
  5. Searching through all the free or low-priced Kindle books to download to my iPad;
  6. Figuring out how to make my own ringtones with the supposedly easy app I downloaded to my iPhone;
  7. Clicking on links from blogs I’m following (and this is only what I’ve done in the past 24 hours; it’s not an exhaustive list).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who happily allows technology to send me onto a rabbit trail that leads into No-man’s Land. Unfortunately, I don’t generally find compelling ideas on these forays that inspire me to write a gripping page for my current writing project. Instead, I find a dozen more ways to continue down the dead-end of distraction and away from the path toward production.

Just when you think you've got the device handled, it's a dinosaur.

The Culprit: Technology or Me

Obviously, technological advancements contain no power of their own to drive my muse into hiding. In fact, owning the latest and greatest in internet ready portable devices should be a boon.  It means I can essentially write and post to my blog from anywhere there’s access to Wi-Fi. Fact-checking is only a click (or touch, I adore having a touch screen and think it should be standard equipment on all computers and phones) away, so there’s nothing holding me back when I have a question that needs answering.

Actually, only my own lack of discipline makes these incredible tools of our digital age harmful to my creativity and industry. Just because I’m using my iPad doesn’t justify collecting money from my zoo(s), country and pet shop. Just because I see the big yellow tile sporting a “W” inviting me to take my turn in “Words with friends” by playing a word in one of my multiple, ongoing games (using a triple letter and triple word score, of course) doesn’t mean I have to give in to temptation. Is there a support group for borderline addicts like me? Applications Anonymous or something like that? A group designed for all the newly out-of-control gamers who’ve shunned traditional gaming as “a major time-waster” but have been sucked into the world of free apps?

In reality, they aren’t free. These things cost me time, creative energy, social interaction with people present in the same room, and, yes, even money (ever heard of a thing called “in-app purchases”?) The bottom line is: it requires more self-control and time-management skills in this digital age than ever before to stay on task. Before, I could turn off the TV, shut off the ringer on the phone and close myself in an isolated room. Now, the very tools of the trade can be magnets of mismanagement.

 

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