Youngblood Blog

Writing weblog, local, topical, personal, spiritual

Those Who Do and Those Who Don’t

Monthly IWSG

Is the human brain ready to be hot-wired to the Internet?

I know a lot of Alex’s Insecure Writers—IWSG—don’t plug into the Facebook scene; perhaps consider the social network game a little too time-consuming [?], when there are queries, edits, pitches and contests to prepare for. After all, the writer’s day is never long enough, is it? And think of how many words we might punch in on the keyboard during the (lost) time it takes to tweet!

Oh, I know we can’t all be like Amanda Hocking, who seems to have written everything online; tweets incessantly, even holds meetings on Twitter, and yet still manages to churn out several e-books per year.

So it got me to thinking about this new ‘instant’ form of communication and how it affects our lives: nay, how it splits us—into expiration dates: those who do and those who don’t—and into media groups: ditto.

I did feel grossly insecure after my first attempts with Smashwords —my March self-publish post for Alex’s IWSG. MSWord not being my favorite program, and with no Apple-friendly interface on offer by that self-publisher, I felt that ancient tweak of ‘fear-in-the-forest’, that feeling of being a stranger in a totally alien landscape (I held myself back there from quoting Robert Heinlein! but give me a moment). We all go through nerves with a new communications tool. Realizing that the old ways are still in there competing with the “new”, I figured I had to find a way around my nerves, because in the world of Big Publishing, MSWord isn’t seen as the code-cluttered behemoth viewed by Macintosh-lovers; it is just the program the industry grew up around; Competitions (Dundee Book Prize, Hay House Visions Contest) assume you know how to use it; so I have learned to live with it—until the next change comes along.

Also, I was never any good with the telephone: there—I’ve said it. I somehow managed to navigate through the recent high waves of multiple-choice cell phone packages and NOT become a cell-user. True to my writerly reclusiveness, I barely answer the landline—I use my laptop for all of the stuff people used to handle on the phone—but I’m reduced to jelly inside, when offered a new iPad or iPhone to try out. I am just getting the hang of the Apple tablet, but the swiping and sweeping motions on the little iPhone still leave me stunned.

It didn’t help that in betweentimes I foolishly asked the local Apple Emporium to back up my old writerly projects: articles, magazine interviews, my non-fiction titles, history, book etc., only to discover I’d left it too late and most of my SCSI drives (eat your heart out, anyone who understands me here) were obsolete. How about that for a dip in the insecurity pool?

Believe me, I know how boring this sounds to people who text and communicate all the time with friends and family; I even found myself irritated with poor old Ken Carey, author of all-time bestseller ‘Return of the Bird Tribes’ (Harper, 1991) who had such a hard time setting up his new website—twenty years after he published his seminal works in the 1980s-1990s—that his first months’ comments were almost exclusively on whether posts got ‘thru’ or not. Then his struggles reminded me of the early internet years, where netiquette (no CAPS SHOUTING, personal anonymity) seemed more important than getting the message across; and I became more compassionate towards him and his/my generation.

Bottom line: much of what is happening now—people deleting their Facebook profiles for fear of the newly-publicly-owned-and-listed company selling their private information—is part of yet another ongoing trend which is pulling us closer to our Omega Point, the symbiosis of man and machine, foretold by Terence McKenna before he died in 2000.

“The Universe is an evolving system of habits”
Terence McKenna

So, our comfort zone may move—not a lot; habitual patterns take time to form—but in five years we shall, it seems, be communicating exclusively electronically (and perhaps silently), and I suspect that, sadly, it will also separate the men from the boys; oh how I hate to be ageist: but there will be those that do and those that (er, teach) don’t. And I suspect I may even fall into the latter category, unless I get my mind speedily around the concept of cells, GPS, bluetooth(s) and the need for instant (communicative) gratification.

Jubilee recalls ancient tradition: instant media coverage captures the last of the dinosaurs in world imagination

Or should I lay aside my insecurity and look at it another way? perhaps I already qualify. I am certainly old; not as aged as HM the Queen, 86, or Prince Philip, 90; but it is a miracle I’ve kept pace with electronica through the last decade’s changes; I love my laptop and, as a writer, I might just make it through the next series of electronic hoops and into the Era of Bionic Man; because, wait for it, the writer/author has always been psyched up to be patient. Big House publishing is not going to catch on to this nouvelle vague and become electronic overnight: some publishers still do not accept MSS, except through the post. I can certainly learn to live without Facebook and Twitter. And, because McKenna was adamant that the Universe has purpose towards hyper-complexification, or advanced organization, and is speeding up all the time; I might even be ahead of the game, outlive the Mac-PC incompatibility, and see my internet tinkering as a bonus, rather than a liability. When they wheel out the dinosaurs and number off according to bionic accoutrements, I might still qualify: I already have wifi, have halved the size of computing screen and diminished my keyboard by one third. My hearing aid [don’t ask: 1960s rock music too close to the speakers] already serves as bluetooth; so all I need is a bionic implant to wire me to the ethers, and I’ll be set for 2020.

Did I mention age as my main insecurity? Woody Allen had a different idea:

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not-dying”
Woody Allen

And, thank you again, Alex, for being such a role-model, and for letting me ramble. I know your book launch was a success. Your CassaStorm will be, too.
©2012 Marian Youngblood

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June 6, 2012 - Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Sorry about your obsolete drives! (Scary that I understood that.) I’ve not plunged into Facebook nor do I own a cell phone. I manage blogging and the occasional use of Twitter, but that is it. So far, that’s all I’ve needed.

    Comment by Alex J. Cavanaugh | June 6, 2012 | Reply

    • You have NO IDEA how pleased I am to hear you say that—not just about your remarkable lack of electronic devices, but that you knew about SCSIs!! bless you x

      Comment by siderealview | June 6, 2012 | Reply

  2. Great post, and while I can’t identify completely, I do understand hovering between the old and new worlds, and I, too, hate talking on the phone, except during the times when I can’t IM or text (ie, while driving). I guess I do love being in touch with people, so I use my Bluetooth headset…

    I like to think that I’m advanced enough to know how to use most of the new technology (or confident that the learning curve won’t be so steep that I can’t figure it out), but I do get stumped at times, such as when I first got my Nook … or, actually, the Nook continues to stump me. I’ve started to explore self-publishing an ePub (for Nook/B&N) and it’s way more complicated than I expected. However, I do believe I’ll have it figured out shortly.

    As far as what I “should” be doing with social networking, I don’t have a clue — I just do what seems right to me, and I try not to overdo it.

    Comment by janarzooman | June 6, 2012 | Reply

  3. I’m not a phone talker either – I have an outdated cell phone that doesn’t work where I live in the mountains. I have to go 6 miles to use it, lol. So I’m not that great at technology. That I can blog is amazing. I also just learned to used Microsoft Movie Maker and made a book trailer which was frustrating/fun. My daughter made me a Facebook page two years ago, so I check it everyday and my blog spotst automatically go there, but that’s about it. I think we’re doing okay, though!

    Comment by fromgwensloft | June 7, 2012 | Reply

  4. Ahhhhh, yes, I hear you!

    I’m struggling to keep up to date with all the advances in modern technology….I can’t even bring myself to get my head around Twitter so I’m avoiding it lol.

    It’s pretty scary as it seems that nowadays publishers expect authors to be on all the social networks and it seems that a large chunk of marketing is down to the author from that point of view.

    I guess if/when I get published I’ll just have to find a willing teenager to show me the ropes lol

    Xx

    Comment by Vikki (The View Outside) | June 7, 2012 | Reply

  5. I think everyone – no matter what age – finds their own personal comfort zone technologywise. I’m with you on loving my laptop and eschewing smartphones…or any phone really. When they make a gadget that does something I want/need to do I’ll get it and figure it out; otherwise, I’m just not interested. Oh, but it’s helped greatly to have befriended a nerd of the highest order to help me out every once in a while. 😉

    Comment by Nicki Elson | July 3, 2012 | Reply

  6. Great post. I think you’re going to be fine. You ever wonder what the American Transcendentalists would think of all these devices? What is wrong with us that we can’t sit in silence (true silence without any clicks or hum of technology) for two seconds? (I did get the SCSI reference BTW.)

    Comment by Tonja | July 4, 2012 | Reply

  7. Thanks Vicki and Nicki: both of you got the right idea about asking our youth/nerd-helpers ‘cos they’re so good at it & we have time on our side!

    Tonja, SUCH great advice; it’s just possible we can transcend (without clicking) in our unwired moments, which makes us even better performers [gotta give our generation its due: we spent all this time on the planet so it’s okay to share our wisdom: glad U knew abt SCSI too]. After all, didn’t the transcendentalists say “it’s ALL good”? or is that just me paraphrasing… lol

    Comment by siderealview | July 5, 2012 | Reply


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