I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

A few days ago I decided to swear off social media. This was for a few reasons. Mostly, I watched the Netflix “documentary” The Social Dilemma, in which the creators of social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others explain that these programs were built to be addictive but no consideration was taken as to the long-standing effects of this addiction. How the algorithms used to mine your personal information also channel different kinds of information. According to the show, if you are using social media, you are the product.

I don’t like that.

I think that the creators of social media applications are no better than tobacco companies, quelling any controvery or research that their products are actually killing people. So I dropped off. Fittingly enough, I got a little bit of pushback from my friends who are on Facebook. Things like “You do this about every six months, you’ll be back.” So supportive. I wonder if AA meetings are like this. I know that bars are. That is why it is hard to quit drinking when all your friends are at the bar.

That being said, I have been a full on Facebook/Instagram addict, spending upwards of six hours a day scrolling through my feed, sometimes just staring at the same crap I’ve already looked at, hoping somehow that it will somehow refresh and I’ll either get that dopamine bump for getting a like or a notification, or something new will appear for me to comment on. Life for these last several months has been lonely. As with many of us, these might be our only outlets of social interraction. I think it’s time to get off that bender.

For the last few days, I have had a lot more time to work on my book. Last night, I finished a 10,000 word chapter. Written in around two or three days. It’s hard to determine how quickly I got it done, since it was a hard chapter and I wrote some other scenes. The writing for the last few days was hard, and sometimes it nearly broke me. But I’m pushing on ahead.

Sometimes I get the doubts that there is no reason for doing what I’m doing. Who will actually read it? Who will care? Then I’ll have moments like the other day when I was buying coffee and the barrista asked me what I was working on. When I told her, she said she had a similar experience. Even just the idea of it resonated with her. So, maybe what I’m working on is important. At least it might be important to at least one other person.

No, it’s not Harry Potter, though some have told me I should write something like that and get rich. Which is a myth. I’m not interested in writing stories for children anyway. There is enough of that out there, and God knows I’ve tried my hand at fantasy and nobody cared. This story is writing itself right now and I’m just holding on for dear life.

Without social media, I’ve been reading more too. I re-read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” and recently I started reading Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” Hemingway really wasn’t a novelist. He was a short story writer and all he did to get that novel length was to string a lot of pointless short stories together. But I have enjoyed the language and the glimpse into 1920s Paris.

I have a first edition copy that I’m working through. The smell of old paper, vanillin, the feel of a hardbound book in your hands. No eReader can compare to it. I’ve decided I dislike eBooks. Everything that I have read on a tiny screen fades quickly from memory. I can’t hold onto it. With a book it is an immersive experience. Much like how I got through college, you participate. You turn the pages, you hear the clock on the wall, you can associate what you are reading with what you are doing at that time. I can pick up some books and turn to a page and know approximately in the story where I have landed. I’ll also remember what was happening around me when I was reading it last. I don’t get that from an eReader.

If I want content, I’ll read an eBook. If I want a reading experience, I’ll read a real book. There is a difference.

Too long didn’t read for this one: I’m learning how to use my time better. Sometimes I get lonely. And I guess I’m still a little old fashioned. I’m still moving forward.

6 thoughts on “I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways

  1. Informed consent? I’m on FB, Twitter but not Insta, but I choose how I use them (I’m mindful that I can have an addictive personality). FB is especially useful for keeping in loose contact with relatives & friends scattered around the world.

  2. There is no difference between a real book and an eBook. That’s simply supporting the old notion that self-publication is bad, connotes that a Publisher hasn’t approved it, and the submissions process is long and arduous. I sidestep that interview process. Yes, I already have a publisher, though self-publishing GOT me that publisher.

    Tobacco companies? I can’t support a wholesale dismissal of them. Take American Spirit for example. Ingredients? Tobacco, water. (Cotton. Paper.). You and your drinking. I LOVE me some Malbec/Priorat/Carmenere, though why are you dismissing things to get to your core gigs as you… not sure of the verb… on these 6 crooked highways.

    I’m interested. The negativity simply had to be filtered off from my perspective. Not thin-skinned, simply a NOPE top that portion not needing to ingest and disgust things that I already knew (beyond inspect my expectations) were going to be toxic as they were already in the past from my perspective.

    If Death is the Mother of Memory, I love that I left Facebook 5 years ago and never looked back. Almost CRAZY for an Author/Architect/Kintsukuroi Reader/Tarot Reader/Astrologer to leave Facebook. Wow, is that common sense heresy? Sure, and nope. Time sinks are time sinks, and when you add the fingers creeping into ownership of images/date/etc…. nope. No thanks.

  3. Yeah, Social Media can be a bastard. As you know, I use it to keep people abreast of my writing life and to have a handy way to keep all my friends’ contact details close to hand. But I try to avoid using it as much as possible precisely for the reasons you cite.

    The simple fact of being on FB has made me a certain amount of money due to contacts in the writing world asking for material, so it’s worthwhile in that regard.

    As for the ereader, I read voraciously and have zero interest in ever getting a kindle, mostly for the tactile sensation but also because the good stuff is available in hardcopy, the rest can be safely ignored (if something electronic is worth it, a traditional publisher will pick it up and publish it). And this comment is from someone who gains 80% of his royalties from electronic copies (although, to be completely honest, they’re all available in hardcopy, either trad print runs or POD, depending on which publisher).

    1. I have an iPad I use with a Kindle app sometimes. Usually if I want the book NOW (like Veruca Salt says) or if it’s going to be cheaper. But I cannot stand the format. I get in there with my books. I drop in slips of paper, dog ear pages, underline shit. The eReader makes that a joke. Sure I can’t carry a whole library on a plane flight, but I would rather be drunk or asleep for that anyway.

  4. I have been blessed. Since FB changed the desktop laptop format, I detest using it and don’t hang on to wandering as I used to. I have met some great new people from AK there and will miss them when I move back south. I have both ebooks and paper. I prefer paper, I actually have many of my paper versions on an ereader so I can read them away from my personal library. I do NOT like using a kindle and miss my ipad a great deal. I didn’t need internet to read any of the books on my elist. With the kindle, I have them, but can’t keep them all on at the same time because there are too many and they take up too much data!
    I gigglesnorted when I read your Hemmingway comment.

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