Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Flickering Box (or why Blogging is Tedious and Dull)

Yesterday the kids and I made another step toward reducing our "flickering box" time.  I have noticed that, in spite of being on sabbatical, my evenings are booked to the extent that I cannot  to do all the things I want to do (mostly uke-playing and book-reading).   The reason for this is technology.  I love TV.  I kind of tolerate the computer.  In both cases, however, time gets eaten away and I am not sure whether it has been well-spent.

The various reasons for cutting back on TV are fairly well-documented so I won't discuss them here.  What I really wanted to talk about was the other flickering box.  The one I am on now.  Of course, computers have saved us a lot of time.  I use it for sermon (and other work-related) writing, emails, Facebook, researching homeschooling materials, and finding something to do on the weekend.  I am not so sure, however, that it is terribly efficient.  I am not so sure that it is terribly healthy either. 

I like the way Facebook, for example, enables me to find old friends and keep up with current ones.  I find it strange, though, in that it bends time in a way that makes me both the person I am today and the person I used to be.  Is it really a good idea to try to keep in touch with everyone you have ever known or met?  I have found old friends through Facebook and reconnected with them.  This has been a good thing.  Still, many relationships (romantic or otherwise) end for good reasons.  Why don't we just let them end instead of placing an icon on our public identity?  Why do we want to be permanently both this person (who we are now) and that (previous, possibly now unrecognizable) person at the same time?  I don't know, but we seem to.  Will I stop using FB?  Probably not.  It gives me an odd feeling sometimes, that's all.

I am pretty convinced that computers stunt creativity as well.  Back when I was younger, I was one of those people who would write poetry and essays for friend-produced literary magazines that lasted three issues.  Do you remember those?  Most of the ones I wrote/published for were of the cheeky "storm the barricades" type.  That is, we didn't take ourselves too seriously.  Among the poems and short essays we made ample use of the visual forms of collage and doodle-by-ballpoint-pen.  We would give these publications to our friends and leave them at libraries on the brochure table.  Our entire budget was what we put on the photocopy card.  I miss that.  I don't just miss the camaraderie.  I miss the medium.  I remember early in my ministry writing for the old Universalist Herald, partly because the aesthetic was almost the same.

Now, I have been blogging for around seven years.  Is it as fun as self-publishing the old way?  No.  Is my circulation higher?  No.  Is the final product as well thought out?  Is the format more exciting?  Is blogging more likely to be tedious and dull?, obviously.  I don't plan to stop blogging, but, really, its limitations are making me scream...

 Last night, as I was hanging out with the kids I thought about what we have lost as a society and what I have lost as an individual to the enforced uniformity of technology.  It is quite a lot.  The flickering box is making us all the same.  I don't want to be like everyone else.  I don't want you to be like everyone else, either.  The question, then, is what to do about it.

So I am thinking about producing a 'zine.  That is, a micro-publication.  It would--as per tradition--be published according to its own flow and time schedule.  It would not be online.  It would be produced via photocopier when I felt like it and mailed to whomever wants one.  Maybe other people would contribute.  Maybe not.  That is kind of how it works.

Does anyone want one?  If you would like to get it, please let me know.  If I don't know you, please send an address.  I am serious. You may not hear from me right away because it is a slacker medium but I mean it.  Wherever two or more are gathered and all that.  Let me send you a letter...

Oh...and does anyone know where I could get a mimeograph machine?  That would be awesome...


  1. I want a 'zine.

    Re blogging: maybe it's just because I am naturally (1) an epistolary chatterbox and (2) the sort of person who even before computers always worked best in brief compressed bursts, the blog writing has turned out to be a major part of my writing practice. For two years I've sat down and written something for publication every single day--which means not just a quick blurt but an attempt at a stand-alone piece that includes a few considered thoughts composed by means of polished sentences. Readership is more or less nil, but the point has been the doing.

    Re Facebook: it's such a weird medium, but I rather enjoy the sensation of having people from all walks and times of my life at the same party, even if they don't know it. But Farmville must die.

  2. Of course, you are also a good writer, which helps!

    I also don't mind the discipline (though I am much less disciplined, alas) and will keep with it. But I am missing the solidity of books and newspapers, so I guess I would like to figure out a way to have somethimg more solid in my self-publishing portfolio. I also have nil readers, so it wouldn't be that hard to mail something every once in a while...I think.

    Facebook is wierd. I'm not really getting rid of it (then I really would have nil readers)but it helps to know it isn't real life, which some folks seem to forget.