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    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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You Take a Piece of Me With You

I get a weekly report of how much time I spend on my phone and it’s horrifying. A lot of that I think, hope, is phone time. And I yak on the phone a lot FOR WORK. The others are spent scrolling. I’m not going to lie. If I were a teenager, I would never do anything else except scroll, pluck my eyebrows and drink kahlua and creme. Then I found out that you can put restrictions on your phone. I gave myself 15 minutes per platorm. When you reach the limit, they ask if you want more time. That’s like asking an alcoholic if he wants another shot. Reader, I blew through my time limits. I used to read in bed before I went to sleep now I watch middle aged couples line dance on Tik Tok. I used to read on the subway, now I scroll through Keanu Reeves pictures on instagram. I used to sit on a park bench and read. Now I listen to podcasts and scroll. I feel I should go to Social Media Rehab. Take away my device, let me sweat it out, kick the covers, all that bullshit. I want my mind back.

What’s your social media drug of choice?

11 Responses

  1. I could be you.

    A. Kahlua + creamy milk is back because why did it ever go away?

    B. I am addicted to TikTok and 15-second dance sequences (and now making genius content of my dog at harvey_isacockercavoodle).

    C. I simply cannot get enough of @isthistooyoungforme on Instagram so you must go there now.

    D. The Screenwriting Life. Podcast. Such an inspiration. Too bad A, B, and C are so distracting.

  2. Oh, Betsy, no, not you too! What a waste of a magnificent mind.

    In my (admittedly completely addled and numb-brained) opinion, social media and other “interesting things” on the internet are the greatest enemy the 21st Century writer has. Have. Has. Have. (The 21st Century writer has the urge and means to look this up immediately, even though it doesn’t matter. Just another inconsequential problem that leads down another very consequential rabbit-hole. NO, fuck off, Curiosity, you fucking cat-killer! It’s okay to be wrong, about this, AND all these wrongly hyphenated words.)

    When I write for some hours in a row, I get plenty done, get into a flow state, and feel high (in a good healthy way) when I’m done for the day. But when I lose myself to The Scroll, to The Surf, to The Many Interesting Things, I get one tiny dopamine hit after another, all day — consuming these little fuckers is just like eating a few grains of sugar, sorta nice, but providing no real nutrition. And at the end of the day, I’ve still had no actual sustenance. (Also, I’ve written no fucking chapters — but I’ve watched people dance, heard them sing, laughed at a joke, felt some outrage, felt some more outrage, called someone stupid, and grown my hatred for myself, one tiny dope-a-mean hit at a time. And to stress what’s important again, written No Fucking Chapters, and ruined my precious brain a little bit more!)

    Writing (or making other art) enough to get into a flow state provides true sustenance, makes our minds healthy and fulfilled. It’s real proper brain food, and it multiplies health day by day — especially, I think, for us Not Completely Sane types.

    Instagram, to answer your question. The van-life posts, practical ones I might apply to my next bus I build. I can even tell myself it’s a good investment of time — but it’s not. It’s not. And every day I get Not Much done on whatever book I’m writing, my heart breaks a little, my brain weakens some more, and I become easier prey for the Internetenemy, hashtag no hyphen no space, because internet and enemy are one, most of the time.

    I’m so sorry for this addled rant, but ranting and dribbling’s all I’m capable of now I’ve ruined my mind. Use it as evidence, and beware your own impending doom. #internetenemy #whatfuckingever #igiveup #vanlife #tick #tock #death

    Or save yourself now, turn the damn internet off, it’s one tiny click that saves many. You can do it. It’s too late for me. Oooooh look at that, a bed that goes up to the ceiling when you press a button!

    • Hey, Harry, good to see you. The only news I ever see out of Australia is dire, but I know that’s the way the news is supposed to be. It shouldn’t be called the news, because it’s never really new — it should be called the bads, because that’s almost always what it is. Whatever sells, right?

      Speaking of whatever sells, I moved into a new building and I think one or two of my new neighbors may have ponied up for their own copies of Franny & Toby. That’s good news.

      Hope you and yours are keeping well.

      • Of course you are correct about all of those things — Whatever sells iss a fine mantra for newsfolk, and the few remaining journalists of integrity must feel like they’re clinging to a leaky lifeboat in a great sea of shit.

        What’s been interesting lately, is when I see an American news report of what’s happening in Australia. It’s as if they’ve started with one of our own Blown Up Bullshit channel’s “news” reports, then blown THAT up to make it seem four times as bad. The true state of things is probably 1/4 as bad as our TV news report, so 1/16th as bad as the American one you’re seeing. Seeing this actually helps me retain a little hope — things aren’t as bad as what’s being made out. Then again, our Federal Government bought us Zero Firefighting Aircraft at a cost of Zero Dollars, and gave your country Fuck Knows How Many Billions for submarines that won’t be delivered until well after our whole country has burned to ash. So there’s that…

        Your new neighbors could not have spent their money more wisely. F&T is a wonderful book, and I hope you’re very proud to have written it. If I ever write one as good, I’ll let you know. Fuck that, I’ll let everyone know. Also, while I think of it, I hope you’ll always keep your website going. It may not get a lot of traffic, but it’s really something. Even putting your excellent stories and insightful quotations and art and photography aside, just the Gordon Lish notes are amazing, and should be studied by anyone who hopes to write better. Thank you so much for publishing those there — they’ve helped me a lot.

  3. *whimper* I stopped having the phone in the bedroom. It helped me cut back.

  4. I have a flip phone that I usually forget to turn on and I haven’t set up a mailbox yet anyway. I avoid the computer whenever I can, although I do use Youtube to look up stuff like how to rewire an electric socket that somehow got interconnected with a waterline and now the toilet flushes whenever the hallway light gets flipped on. But then I get stuck watching music videos. Just the other night, I watched a couple of videos by The Cramps and a great lock down video of Modern English playing Stop the World and Melt with You until I realized it was past my bedtime and I hadn’t even taken the dog out, washed the dishes or flossed my teeth.

    I couldn’t tell you the difference between TikTok, Instagram and ZOOM and I’m pretty much alright with that. Techies will look down on me for my lack of electronics savvy, but I’m content that I can identify species of trees, types of birds and animal tracks in soft mud without the aid of an electronic device that’s running low on energy.

    Device addiction is like porn in that I’d rather be participating than watching, although I’ll take a pass on the line dancing.

  5. OMG. Tiktok. Addictive. I get a kick out of watching the cockatoos say What the fuck! What the fuck!

    I didn’t have it – and swore I wasn’t going to download, then, I heard about Booktok, and thought, okay, I’ll give b/c – books. Next thing I knew I was getting messages from my service provider saying I’d used up the data on my monthly plan and was being charged more. (yikes)

    Now I’m back to scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and . . . yeah, it’s a BAD habit and sucks time from writing. Every. Day.

  6. Excuse me boys and girls but I use my phone only for research regarding my latest project. I occasionally make a call and even receive one. Once in a while I may snap a photo or two in order document a particular moment which I believe is relevant to the situation. Yup, (cliche alert), that’s it in a nutshell.

    Huh, and I thought I couldn’t write fiction.

  7. I have burned off the skin of my index finger from scrolling. Another admission to add to the pile of shame. The pile that keeps me from writing. Time for some Kaluha. Maybe I’ll use a tad of skim milk with it to feel better.

  8. “What’s your social media drug of choice?”

    I take hits off three — this place, El Libro de la Cara, and the Commie Mommyblog of Dick Jokes and Recipes known as Wonkette.

    Fucking stuff’s addictive, man.

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