We are surrounded more and more by media – social media, augmented reality games, television commercials at gas stations; the list goes on. I’m the first to admit that the internet can bring people together – I am, after all, writing this on blog I started with some friends, all of whom are geographically scattered.
But I have noticed the echo chamber can have an unhealthy effect. Psychologists call behavior that pushes against another person “impinging,” and it’s my belief that, if we’re not careful about our inflow, that can happen. I noticed, for example, that when I had Facebook on my phone, the constant dings or buzzes of incoming alerts would break my train of thought. As I checked in, I would get drawn into whatever was trending: racist politics, cop shootings, and cats. Lots of cats.
I don’t mind cats. I like them, as it happiness. But I’m a novelist, and the first casualty in the war for attention is sustained train of thought.
As a social experiment, I took Facebook off my phone. My daily round got calmer. I stopped drinking as much coffee and focused more on my journal. I noticed a couple of things:
- Writing by hand disciplines my mind to hold a train of thought, since I don’t write as fast as I think.
- It felt like I woke up from a collective hallucination. I don’t need strangers’ opinions in my daily round.
- I started writing more – always good news for a novelist.
- I started thinking more deeply about issues like politics, body image, feminism, and philosophy.
This Writer Wednesday, I invite you to try it: turn off the inflow and let your own thoughts loose on the page. Nanowrimo’s coming. Let’s be ready.