By Caitlin Kelly
Great piece recently by Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine:
A year before, like many addicts, I had sensed a personal crash coming. For a decade and a half, I’d been a web obsessive, publishing blog posts multiple times a day, seven days a week, and ultimately corralling a team that curated the web every 20 minutes during peak hours. Each morning began with a full immersion in the stream of internet consciousness and news, jumping from site to site, tweet to tweet, breaking news story to hottest take, scanning countless images and videos, catching up with multiple memes. Throughout the day, I’d cough up an insight or an argument or a joke about what had just occurred or what was happening right now. And at times, as events took over, I’d spend weeks manically grabbing every tiny scrap of a developing story in order to fuse them into a narrative in real time. I was in an unending dialogue with readers who were caviling, praising, booing, correcting. My brain had never been so occupied so insistently by so many different subjects and in so public a way for so long.
And here’s a reply to his piece from The Federalist.
Like Sullivan, I went on a silent retreat, (and blogged about it, which broke a retreat rule!); if you’re interested, check out my archives from July 2011.
It’s a life-changing experience to withdraw completely from chitchat, both in person and online.
And, I know, it’s a bit rich to complain about our constant connectedness to screens on a blog you’re de facto reading on a screen, somewhere!
By now it’s become a counter-cultural act to:
not have a smartphone; not check it constantly; not feel compelled to post every thought and image on your multiple social media streams so that other people can like it, share it, re-tweet it.
It’s now also considered staggeringly rude, invasive and old-fashioned to use a telephone to call someone, let alone leave them a voicemail or message.
How dare you speak to me directly!
What are we, maharajahs?!
We had a party last weekend and it was a hit. We love to entertain and do it as often as we can afford.
You know, a room full of real people, sharing conversation and lots of great food and laughter and talking about everything from aerial yoga to the American Constitution.
Guests included several photographers — (one whose new book of pinhole photos I’ll soon feature here) — writers, three lawyers, editors.
Several had never met one another before and were soon deeply engaged in lively chats.
Yes, relating in real life is risky. Your joke might fall flat. You might be wearing the wrong shoes or not catch a cultural reference. Maybe you’re really shy.
But hiding behind a screen all the time is nuts.
This is what life is for: face to face connection, a fierce hug hello and reluctant good-bye.
Yes, I blog and tweet, and will continue to do so — because it’s now essential for me to have a lively, visible, provable digital presence.
But my phone is often off, left in a drawer or “forgotten” at home.
The un-screened life is my favorite and always will be.