Can You Unplug?

How hard is it for you to unplug? To turn off your cell phone, computer, tablet, television (yes, television counts)?

I’m finding it increasingly hard to do. The last few days I’ve found myself obsessively checking Facebook and Twitter. I’ve begun to suspect it has something to do with my addiction to natural dopamine. In the last few months I’ve had to cut out all caffeine, the darkest chocolate, long naps, and most alcohol (no one is up for exercising in the evening after a glass or two of wine). Dopamine is all I have left–well, perhaps I still get a little adrenalin rush when I know I’m running late, but I’m going to discount that because I don’t really go many places. When I see those tiny number icons and text alerts, my heart goes pitter-pat and I drop everything.

Other excuses I have for staying plugged in: Children. What if they can’t text me if they need me?; Friends. Ditto for them.; Email. Vital VITAL information about work, friends and family news, and shopping comes through every hour or so. My spouse is a good sleeper. I stay up late. Solitaire relaxes me. Netflix relaxes me. And then there’s reading! I have Kindle, Nook, and Pages on my iPad. It must be nearby ALL THE TIME. As far as the television goes, sometimes I like it for company in a distant room because I’m alone with the critters in the house much of the day. But I really don’t need the actual television. Every other screen I own–laptop, tablet, desktop, phone–can show me all the films or television shows I want.

Then there’s the biggie: I work on a computer. The only device that’s almost always as close to me as my phone is my laptop. That’s where I do my thinking, where I compose my stories. (Though I prefer to write non-fiction/blogs on my desktop.)

I’m exhausted with it all. But apparently not exhausted enough to put everything away for a day. Or even an hour. If I’m stern with myself, I will keep my phone in another room during writing hours. I can still hear its little cries, calling to me. “I’m here! Here I am! I can make you haaaaaappy!”

Have you read Hamlet’s Blackberry? It’s an excellent (short) book on connectedness and technological dependence and its costs. Tiffany Shlain is prolific on the subject, and there are plenty of articles out there. And here’s a new piece on how tech-deprivation can cause high anxiety.

I have lots of work to do over the next several months. Don’t we all? With the winter holidays coming up, my life is pasted with to-do lists. I’ll be receiving edits on BLISS HOUSE (my novel that’s coming out in June) in a matter of weeks. One of my biggest goals is to get the second Bliss House novel drafted by Christmas. That means a lot of uninterrupted hours. Can I do all these things and maintain a vibrant, trying-to-be-a-witty-information-provider presence online? Did that sentence even make sense? The answer is probably *no* to both.

I’m thinking about it, though. Exploring those connections. Trying to figure out what’s feeding me and what’s not–what’s feeding my creativity, and what’s draining it.

A girl can’t live on dopamine alone. I’ll keep you posted. Let me know where you are on this journey.


(Fiction word count today: 350)

4 thoughts on “Can You Unplug?”

  1. I have no problem walking away from all technology – as long as I have the option to come back to it at a moment’s notice! Seriously, I find great freedom in not touching any kind of computer, phone, ipod, etc but if the internet is out (and I know it) or if the electricity is out FORGET IT! Suddenly it’s life or death that I get to my email or Facebook or whatever.

  2. I’m impressed you can walk away from it at all, Becky. If the power goes out, I feel a little frisson of excitement–because I know there’s nothing I can do at that moment. But after an hour I’m in the car on the way to Panera.

  3. CarrieMarie says:

    Since getting back into nerd-girl mode w/ my books, I’ve found that my television watching, which had already devolved to only keeping up w/ 4 or 5 shows, has suffered greatly. I have WEEKS of Castle, Elementary & Undercover Boss on my mom’s DVR to catch up with. But I’d rather be reading. Being w/o a computer for several months gave me better balance once I got my chromebook. I do tend to be extra-vigilant about keeping my phone charged, tho. I get a little misty-eyed when I have to shut it off for more than an hour because of a low battery…

    I think I’d be okay w/o all of it as long as I had my books… except I’ve recently sorta become addicted to Amazon & Goodreads, so maybe “okay” is a stretch… LOL

  4. Amazed by your reading dedication, CM! I bet if you had a palace full of booky-books, you wouldn’t miss the Interwebs for a minute. : )

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