Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short circuiting

I got my first home computer way back in 1989. It was a Tandy from Radio Shack (not the one pictured here, but close) and I thought it was one of the most amazing things I'd ever owned in my life. I did all the tutorials that came with it ... and there were a lot of them. There was also a program that allowed me to connect to something called the Internet, whatever THAT meant. But it also allowed me to set up an electronic mail account, which enabled me to talk almost immediately to others who had these electronic mail accounts, too. No more waiting days or weeks to hear from friends. How completely cool was that?!

It seems like it wasn't long though and an upgrade was needed. This time I went to a computer store where they made the machine to my specifications. And so began the regular upgrades. I think we've gone through probably a dozen or more computers during the last 20+ years. Even had an iMac in there, which I loved, but the rest have been PCs.

Then came the cell phones. My dad had a mobile phone when I was probably an early teenager and, honest to god, that thing was like the phone Radar used on the TV series M*A*S*H. It was huge! One of my first cell phones was the Motorola i50sx with the Nextel direct connect. How totally awesome! I could talk to anyone at any time. I could even talk while I was driving down the road or in the store.

Of course as I write this on my laptop on the front porch with my wi-fi, snagging photos from the gazillion available by just typing a few words in a Google search, I gotta say all this convenience comes at a price. Not just the money either.

Don't get me wrong, I lovelovelove all the techy stuff. Hell, I'm an e-published author and proud of it. Those books were written on the virtual page and submitted via e-mail. I enjoy my Pandigital Novel e-reader and my Blackberry Tour. I have thousands of photos in Picasa 3, as well as backed up on a 1 TB external harddrive, that chronicle the lives of my family, especially my kids and grandkids. (Does anyone actually print photos anymore?)

There's TVs, iPods, DVD players, video game systems, and toys that just seem to make noise because everything has to make noise anymore. (I had a flash of the Grinch as I typed that:  That's one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!) I don't hate noise per se, what I'm getting sick of is the constant connection with everyone and everything. Like the Blackberry. That little device is almost never more than arm's length from me.

And because it's a smartphone that means the internet and all the distractions that come with it are always right there, too. Myspace. LinkedIn. Facebook. Blogs. E-mails. Goodreads. Twitter. And the lists go on and on and on. It's too much. Not only do you have to keep up on your own pages and profiles, it's just common courtesy to keep up with everyone else's as well. [shaking my head] I've decided I'm not doing it anymore.

There are some things that are simply required when maintaining a professional persona in today's market. For me, this is "Rosemary Gunn," my pen name. Having a Web site, blog, and e-mail are the minimum requirements nowadays. Myspace and LinkedIn got the ax quite a while ago. Up until a few weeks ago though, I had a personal Facebook profile, as well as an author profile. Then I deactivated the author profile and created an actual page. Then I just got fed up with the whole lot of Facebook madness and permanently deleted everything. Good riddance.

Then I got to thinking:  What if I fall off the grid? If I'm not "out there" networking socially with hundreds of people that I've never met and probably never will, what will become of me? When I mulled this tenative question around in the quiet of my mind, the answer that came back to me was this:  I will be right where I've always been. The words that flow from my mind to the keyboard to the page will continue to come whether I'm on Facecrack or tweeting at the top of my lungs. But I also discovered that they flow much easier when my brain isn't scattered in five, ten, and fifteen different directions trying to keep up with all the virtual Joneses out there. I simply can't do it. There are some very, very talented artists out there who seem to keep all these plates spinning effortlessly, while also cranking out book after book. That's awesome. Y'all inspired me to try to do it all.

But now it's back to my quiet, moderately plugged in existence. I like it here. I enjoy texting one on one, but I'm also getting reacquainted with the random telephone call to someone I haven't spoken with in a while -- using the land line rather than my cell, because the reception is just way better quality.

I love that all these different sites and apps are available ... so much that it feels like nothing gets done unless there's some form of post or status update. Life in 140 character bites or less is starting to short circuit my brain. They've been a lot of fun to play with over the years and, like I said, for a lot of people they can still manage to find the balance with their writing and other parts of life while maintaining all these online profiles.

I confess this is not the case for me. Lack of focus and attention span has gotten the best of me, so I bid farewell to the Facebook and Twitter. I deleted five e-mail accounts and a Myspace account that I forgot I even had. I also deleted literally YEARS of e-mails sitting in my All Mail boxes ... well over 10,000 in all. Why on earth was I saving these? It felt like a house was lifted off my shoulders.

Of course, I still have several e-mail accounts that must be maintained, but the number has literally been cut in half. Plus, there's texting. Not nearly as personal as a phone call, but it's one on one. It's time for me to find the balance again. That laid back comfort zone where my mind can settle and find the quiet.

For me that's writing my books, maintaining a nice Web site, and updating my blog regularly. (And I enjoy the Goodreads profile, too.) That works best for me. Hope you stop by often and visit.