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Distractions: The Internet Is A Problem

By on April 28, 2011No Comment

I’m a writer, and a distracted one, so the internet is a problem.Especially because the internet lives right in the same box that I rely on to do my writing. It is a feng shui problem. There is no way to separate the tool that I use to write from the tool that I use to access the world wide web, and the lack of division in the tool muddies the task at hand.

The closest physical example I can think of is the similarity of garden tools to kitchen tools. You wouldn’t store a garden spade in your silverware drawer, would you? They are essentially the same materials, with similar shapes and functions. Still, the mere proximity of the garden tool that has been out there digging through the dirt would make the kitchen utensils seem unfit for cooking. They don’t go in the same drawer. In most houses, they don’t even go in the same room!

Stay with me, I’m bringing this back – keeping both the internet and Microsoft Word inside of the same computer is to me very similar to keeping a garden spade and a soup spoon in the same drawer. When I sit down to the computer to write, it takes a long time to get the specter of all that internet stuff out of the way. There have been a few times when I’ve thought seriously of going out and buying a second computer, a heavy desktop model that can’t connect to the web, but like I said, I’m a writer, which means I’m poor, so I can’t afford a second computer.

I’ve been told that the answer is simply to hit the button on the computer that will turn off the wireless capacity, but this is, frankly, the sort of thing that anybody can say but nobody can actually do. And it doesn’t solve the feng shui problem. The best solution I’ve found so far has been to go to the library to write – though there is internet available for free, libraries require a certain level of studiousness that means I’m likely to stay away from frivolous youtube searches or wandering through my netflix cue, keeping my internet forays limited to the realm of research.

The problem is this – writers need solitude first, but the computer has become very crowded – so it’s tricky to ever feel like one is outside of the relentless traffic of information long enough to conjure original thoughts. Virginia Woolf’s famous essay about a writer’s first requirement being “a room of one’s own” still holds true, and I don’t know where those rooms are to be found right now. Metaphysically, the internet reaches into every corner of our lives. Accessibility is a great freedom, but it certainly creates a new burden on the creative writer who needs solitude to work. I’m just waiting for someone to invent a device to turn down the noise.

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