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The Torments of Technology by Eileen Magee

Another Word or two from Eileen Magee—still practicing to be a 'famous' Author—in between cups of tea.

Savvy Stodginess

In happily moving forward with the benefits of technology all these years in my working life, writing life, and personal life, I fear I'm now becoming a stodgy old woman, refusing to embrace change. Not refusing as such, but more attempting to take charge before technology does it for me.

We know there's many benefits to technology. Particularly, for us writers and illustrators, we have a myriad of tools at our fingertips. I'm more familiar with those on the writing side of things, like formatting – margins, font style and size, tabulation, copying, cutting, pasting, and deleting, a dictionary and thesaurus on screen, grammar tools, and the internet. The internet not only allows us to delve into research, but we can network with fellow writers and illustrators, keep abreast of all things writing and illustrating, build a profile, market our work, and—get distracted. That—the distraction of the internet, of technology, it's slow but evident intrusion into our lives, is concerning me.

To stay on track when we go on-line, whether as part of our personal lives or writing/illustrating lives, we need to give technology a time and place. Managing our interaction with technology should help us secure more time to write and illustrate, and when we have that time, to use it efficiently.However, we must also fend off the steady invasion of technology from other sources, for example:

  • 1)   I gave verbal (face to face) customer feedback (yes, I was nice) to an employee in a supermarket. He suggested I 'pop on-line and give feedback.' (I didn't bother).

  • 2)   Some councils now have an 'app' to remind us that the bin needs to be put out. (I'm flabbergasted by this one).

  • 3)   These days, when you make a purchase at a clothes shop or even the chemist, many of them ask for your mobile phone number and your email address. I politely decline to provide these. Each time, the clothes shops assure me that they can text or email me to let me know of upcoming specials, or in the case of the chemist…when my script is ready! I still politely decline.

    Shifting to Savvy Stodge Status

Before this is taken as me whinging (although, I do feel a whole lot better), let me explain my stodginess. Getting a grip on screen-time allows time to do those other things we enjoy and to not be so available. It also gives our eyes a break from the screen, puts us in the moment, and lets us be lost in our own thoughts.

Like many of you, I spend my working day in front of a computer screen. Besides the work we produce via the computer, there's copious emails received daily—all requiring action and a response, there's diaries to manage, teleconference meetings, and the list goes on. Add to this, the overload of on-screen time in our private lives, the texts, emails, downloading of bills, various apps, and dare I say…social media—websites (except this one), blogs (and this one), Facebook, etc. It's no wonder we have limited time to write or illustrate. It's also no wonder that my prescription for glasses is stronger each time.

That being said, some of the benefits of technology, when applied efficiently, are time-savers.For example, pen and paper aside, we can 'write' (type) almost anywhere. The bus is a good place if you have a long enough journey, or in a café, or on a picnic rug. Alternatively, we can read blogs, respond to emails, Facebook, etc.

However—and here's a contradiction—I fear people are losing the ability to just 'be' - at the bus stop, in a queue, in a lift, walking, waiting for someone in a café, and even as a passenger in the car, and often…in the company of the person/people they're with - without having their mobile phone or a screen in hand, and they're attention glued to it. There's a fine line – it's that time and place thing.

You'll have read similar suggestions before, but reminders are good for us. Here's a few simple steps toward savvy stodginess, it's about:

  • 1)   Selecting only a few specific blogs, webpages, and other social-media to follow (Obviously CKT wins out every time!).

  • 2)   Avoiding the distraction of notifications popping up for Facebook, email, etc. while you're in a writing session, by not connecting to the internet for that period of time.

  • 3)   Turning Facebook phone notifications off, and instead, only popping on when you have the time.

  • 4)   Utilising the 'do not disturb' function on your phone for selected times of the day. You'll still receive text messages and phone calls but won't be alerted to them, therefore, avoiding the pull to react instantly. (There are options available to allow calls from specific people).

The attached link is to a blog about social media just for writers relays in a nutshell, and much more eloquently, what I'm talking about—although you'll note one particular point where we don't quite agree:

Stodginess in Short

There's no way we can keep up with all the on-line material we'd like to, yet because it's so accessible, we think we ought to. If we spend all our time on-line, when do we have the time to work on our own book and projects?

Obviously, being on-line is the way of things now, but perhaps a few of us stodgy ones will keep 'the old ways' alive, and when we're wrinkled, bent, and dotterry, we can tell the youngsters stories of how things used to be. (There's a picture book idea!).

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Friday, 29 May 2020

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