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Monday, June 21, 2010

Computer Deprivation

This weekend, I took an overnight trip to Nashville, TN for a friend's wedding and *gasp* I did not bring my laptop.  It made sense, after all.  I was going to be gone for less than 36 hours and while being away from my computer should be no big deal, I must admit I had some trepidation.

First, this was going to be a whole day and a half with no email.  What if something happened and everybody else knew about it, except me?  Also, no web browser to ask for directions when I took a wrong turn in a Nashville suburb while looking for said wedding.  (Three times this happened--we made it to the wedding 30 seconds before the procession started.)  And of course, no FaceBook where I would stealthily be able to look up people I saw at the wedding if I couldn't, for the life of me, remember their names.

But the biggest problem had nothing to do with lack of internet.  Alas, it was lack of word processor that had me freaking out.  And yet, though I am loathe to admit it, this has been one of the most productive weekends--both in terms of writing and generating ideas--that I've had in a long time.

Which got me thinking about this idea of computer deprivation.  Sometimes all the technology in our lives stifles our ability to think creatively.  This isn't because computers are evil and all technology is sending our culture straight to the underworld.  Rather, computers and other electronic devices simply train our minds to think in only one direction: forward.  When we're browsing through the internet or looking for files in a computer, one click leads to another, which leads to another, and another.  Even if the cognitive path squiggles around or comes full circle, the direction of motion is always the same.  Computers train us to look for the next step in the path, but sometimes the path can be limiting.

But what if instead of following the path, we step on the grass and cut across the lawn?  What if instead of thinking only forward, we think sideways, or backwards, or up and down?  Someday, perhaps there will be computers that allow us to think this way and that mimic the beautiful, disorganized thing that is the human mind, but for now the best solution may be simply to turn the computer off.

My challenge to you is this: give yourself the gift of one computer-free day (or if you're really brave, a computer-free week) and see what crazy connections and wild ideas come up when your mind isn't always moving in that same forward direction.

As for me?  Who knows.  Maybe I'll do this every weekend.

2 comments:

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

I was without internet for a whole day on Monday and it nearly killed me. However, when I go on vacation I think it's much easier to step away - being distracted with other things. :)

gabi said...

That's a good point. I don't seem to mind not having a computer when I'm on vacation and have lots of other things going on.

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