#Blogtoberfest Day 26: Unplugging in November

Instead of doing #NaNoWriMo in November, I’m going to unplug – at least somewhat. What I will not be doing (or trying not to):

  • Blogging
  • Reading on Kindle
  • Watching travel videos on Youtube (okay, maybe once a week)
  • Sleeping with my iPhone
  • Playing gin rummy on my iPad

What I hope I will be doing:

  • Practicing the keys
  • Writing songs and/or fiction
  • Reading paperbacks and/or hard cover books
  • Going to Barnes & Noble
  • Visiting the Guitar Center

I also plan to delete my LinkedIn account. I only returned because the old Lynda.com was now part of LinkedIn and they forced me to rejoin LinkedIn to access it. Each time I renew for another month, they change how they work. Now you have to use iTunes to manage your payments, which I try to avoid as often as possible. iTunes – ugh! I”d like to delete LinkedIn immediately, but I still have access to classes for most of November.

Except for Twitter, I’ve deleted my other social media accounts. Even the word “social media” creeps me out – lol!

Ah, but then there’s YouTube. I subscribe to several travel Vloggers, but I’ve noticed that by watching their travel experiences, my travel experience is diminished. It’s helpful to read about places you might visit, but YouTube vlogs kinda take away the surprise, those things you stumble upon which make your experience so much richer.

And I really dislike all the begging to subscribe and share and donate money. I definitely think I need to avoid travel vloggers. At first I thought that might be the hardest thing for me to give up, but it’s getting old and I’m not enjoying the videos as much.

I have no idea how November might change me, but I hope to update you all in December.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 25: How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career (and your Brain)

Unplugging – it sounds so sexy to me – lol! I’ve been drawn to unplugging for some time because, like most people today, I’ve been noticing the downside of too much information, over stimulation, social media, etc., etc. And not just as a writer, but as a musician and as a person.

Working in the San Francisco Bay Area with a career in electronic publishing since the late 1970s, I was one of the first to hop aboard all things electronic, imagining something like the internet and hollering with glee when it became accessible to all. But things don’t stay as they were. Instead of being helpful, the internet has deteriorated in so many ways and don’t get me started on social media.

Anyway, it’s interesting that many people are realizing this now – people are getting off social media, studies have been studied, books have been written, and people are speaking out about the harm of it all.

What I’m leading up to is I found this post in my email yesterday – “How Online Overload Harms Your Writing Career” from Productive Writers. He quotes a book called The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I downloaded a sample to my reader and can’t wait to get into it today.

I’m wondering if maybe this is why I’ve lost interest in writing. Is it because I can’t focus for that long these days? Have I said everything I have to say? Or did I lose interest as my readers lost interest? Once the algorithms changed from people finding me via search engines to a weighted discovery of numbers – sites and books with the most sales are shown to people’s eyeballs. So if your numbers aren’t huge, you get practically zero visibility. The more you sell, the more you will sell. The less you sell, the less people will even know about you until finally your sales stop completely. Another way the internet is all screwed up.

We’re being told what we see – it’s no longer the free space where all are equal – that’s the problem with social media – it’s controlling “information” and we see different things, dictated by advertisers and algorithms. We’re being controlled like puppets. But the scariest thing of all is how our brains are actually being changed from it.

It’s definitely time to unplug – at least somewhat. It won’t be easy because we’ve been trained to reach for our smart phone every time we get that twitch, which is practically nonstop. I’ve noticed that if I turn my phone off or leave it in another room, I sleep much better. No middle-of-the-night poetry, but I’ll just have to write it at the computer during the day. Who knows what I may actually accomplish?

#Blogtoberfest Day 5: Social Media Makes You Stupid

I believe that people aren’t normally stupid. Dysfunction, inauthenticity makes people look stupid. Social media actually makes people do stupid. It dulls your brain, your thinking ability, lessens your communication/people skills.

Take writing, for example. It’s often been said that you need to exercise your writing muscle and write every day or most days to stay strong. So inactivity weakens that writing muscle. And if you’re inactively writing because you’re sharing photos and likes on social media, your brain becomes lazy.

And so I sit here day after day this October unable to focus on writing a scene. It’s like when I first started writing, only worse. Back then, it took me all day to actually sit down and write a scene. I had good intentions of starting my writing day int he morning. But I couldn’t get anything out of my head until about 4 p.m.

Now I’d be happy if I could do that. Instead, my brain is jello, my attention span is ridiculously short. It’s easier to flip through youtube channels, peek into Twitter, and play a game on my iPad. I might read, but even that seems like a challenge – all of that focus on understanding content.

This is sad and must come to an end. I must sit down  and write every day to get that flabby writing muscle in shape. Even music has become a crutch – it’s easier to open up Logic Pro and start auditioning Apple loops or keyboard a few midi notes.

Maybe that’s what #Blogtoberfest is all about for me – getting my writing muscle back in shape. A daily blog post is the warm-up, hopefully leading to writing a sentence, a paragraph, a page, three pages maybe. That used to come so easily. But one thing I’m noticing is that I feel such peace when I’m sitting down and actually writing something… anything.

 

#Blogtoberfest Day 3: Post Traumatic Social Media Disorder (PTSMD)

When I first started blogging in 2005 or was it 2004, I don’t remember any more, but it was an empowering opportunity to express myself.  I really hadn’t been “allowed” to do that in my life experience. At first it was terrifying. Then it was liberating! Sharing your deepest thoughts and life’s experiences seemed to be the point of the blog. After all, a blog was supposed to be an online journal – not a marketing tool.

But just as I was thriving by blogging, social media took center stage, and blogs were shoved to the side. And now people feel free to express not only their deepest thoughts, but their deepest hates, prejudices, anger, political opinions, I mean, we all know how ugly it’s become because it’s not just an honest expression, it’s an attack on everything people disagree with.

I deleted Facebook and Instagram. Except for posting blog posts on Twitter, I mostly ignore it. I use LinkedIn only when I want to take a class on what used to be Lynda.com. Unfortunately, Facebook ruined Instagram when they acquired it and LinkedIn ruined Lynda.com when they acquired it and Youtube was much better before Google acquired it. But after 23 years in Silicon Valley, I can tell you that’s how Silicon Valley works – companies grow by acquiring other companies.

Anyway, I also stopped blogging. I retreated. I began to repress my thoughts and feelings online. I turned to poetry. Poetry felt safer. I sat down to write today’s blog post but really had to push myself to write something. I’m going to have to take #Blogtoberfest one day at a time because I’m not sure I’m up to blogging every day for the month of October. That’s 31 blog posts. I  jokingly told myself that maybe I have PTSMD – Post Traumatic Social Media Disorder. 🙂

(photo from The Effects of Social Media on Depression)

#Blogtoberfest Day 2: Reading-Inspired Writing

The call of the novel will not sleep no matter how hard I try to put it to rest. So I’ve decided to prioritize writing for the next two months: this month I’m taking a class to get inspired and next month, I’m seriously considering NanoWriMo, although my first experience with it years ago did not yield anything worthwhile.

In the meantime, I’m reading like mad because reading inspires my writing. I imagine that’s true for all writers, right? We first thought about writing as readers.

I was sampling a few different genres but in the contemporary novels, I was finding too many references to Facebook, texting, Google, etc. I mean, I’ve done all of that, but I don’t want to see it in the novels I read. For some reason, some writers feel they need to include all of that, as if their readers expect it. In fact, I did read a comment about a reader who was disappointed that the book didn’t include social media. But as our society discovers more and more how unhealthy these things are, I think they will disappear from novels and that will really date your so-called contemporary novel.

It’s fiction, it does not need to represent real life. So I’m finding myself more and more reading novels set in the past. In fact, the book I finally settled on reading is set in 1959, Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence by Pamela Cory.

This is inspiring my own writing, because I really enjoy writing stories set in the past and Las Vegas is a frequent setting for me. Thoughts of my next novel are whirling in my head as I read.

#Blogtoberfest Kickoff, Day 1: The Hazards of Social Media

I’ve noticed several vloggers out there kicking off a #Vlogtoberfest for the month of October and I seem to recall that this was once also a thing in the blogging world. So I’ve decided to do my own #blogtoberfest by blogging every day for the month of October.

I’ve missed blogging on a regular basis and when my aunt and I were working on her new blog together, I remembered how much I enjoy it, especially now that I’m really cutting down on social media.

A fan of #deletefacebook and #deleteinstagram, my life has improved greatly. In case you haven’t seen this, check out this link to this guy’s comments on how social media changes our behavior and not in a good way. Or go straight to the source and watch this video with Jaron Lanier. He has some especially insightful comments about how Trump’s Twitter addiction has changed him for the worse. There’s motivation right there to get off.

One of the blessings of getting off social media (not entirely – I’m still holding onto Twitter and was forced to return to LinkedIn when I wanted to take some classes on what was once Lynda.com. Ugh!!

But I don’t find either of these addiction or even compelling – they’re just there. But soon after the founders of Instagram left Facebook, I could see Facebook all over it. Instead of leaving Instagram as it was, which was kinda fun, they’re ruining it by making it more like Facebook. Dudes – if Instagram is supposed to save Facebook, why not leave it alone instead of ruining it, too?

Anyway, one of the blessings of leaving social media is that surprise has returned to my life. Instead of people browsing predictable news feeds on social media, thinking they’re all caught up with your life, they actually surprise you with a text or email or even a phone call – maybe even a visit or meetup. Imagine that!

Getting of social media is the path to sanity, my friends!

(From 5 Legit Reasons to Delete Facebook...)