I just got home from several days camping in Western North Carolina. Internet connections were spotty at best and it was even harder to plug the phone in to charge it. I was as close to “unplugged” as I could get without being completely unavailable.
When I was twenty, I went on afour month trip through Europe on a EuroRail ticket. This was before cell phones. I bought by the minute phone cards in each country I visited so that I could call home once or twice a week. Except for the moments when I was on the phone, no one knew where I was. I could be in Paris one day and Rome the next. If I went missing, no one would know what country to start searching to find me. This was both scary and thrilling, but mostly thrilling.
Now that I am older, being completely unavailable is not as thrilling and even less realistic. I am responsible for many things and accountable to several people. Disappearing is a luxury afforded to the very rich or the very young. I’m neither.
The week in the mountains brought back a taste of that inaccessibility. It wasn’t just that I was inaccessible, but more so the world, the internet, the digital age was inaccessible to me. What a gift.
One night in my tent, dead tired at 9 PM I was closing my eyes and thinking about how wrong I was about nature. “I will get some peace and quiet!” I thought as I was planning the trip. I remembered nature being peaceful. There is nothing peaceful about nature at night. The cicadas and frogs put on a raucous show when the sun sets. It’s loud in every direction. The next morning was peaceful. There was only the rustling of leaves and the hiss from the propane on my stove as I boiled water for coffee. If you want quiet, you’ve got to go to bed before dark, wake up before light. These aren’t things I do at home.
Social media has been getting more out of methan I’ve been getting out of it lately. This is a problem. There was the big blow out in June between me and a few thought leaders in the manosphere. It was long overdue but in retrospect, I wish I’d avoided it all together.
Jordan Peterson “Life isn’t a game; it’s a set of games. And the rule is, ‘Never sacrifice victory across the set of games for victory in one game.’”
This is just another way of saying, don’t win the battle but lose the war, except it frames life in the context of play, engagement and discovery instead of violence, power, or domination. Framing matters.
It’s easy to get caught up in the game of social media and convince yourself you are winning. I have thousands of followers across several platforms. I have “fans” and just as important in the influencer currency, I have “haters.” I am a great success at the social media game. But am I winning that game at the expense of others? In the end, what is the prize of winning at social media anyway?
It’s not book sales and I’m not sure it’s readers either. In the beginning, social media was a way to get my writing out there. That was 2014. It’s 2018 and my audience is not growing. Is it my writing? Is it the subject matter? Is it the platform?
It’s me. I’m not growing. I have lost my focus. At first it was erotic fiction, then dating advice. Now I have been collecting old essays into a book but it isn’t fun. It’s old material and more often than not I feel like this project is holding me back. But I can’t tell you what it is holding me back from because I don’t know where I want to go.
I want to write.
I want to write stories.
I want to write essays.
I want to write plays.
I want to write letters.
I want to connect with the page, with my characters and tell stories that resonate with readers. I want to tell stories that make you feel something intensely. I want to give you emotional and mental experiences through stories and drama. I want to give you an experience.
To do this, I need to be more connected with my only promise is to myself: I will do whatever it takes to reconnect with my creative spirit, to break away from the crutches of immediate gratification provided on social media, to push myself to tell the stories, explore the ideas and create the emotion that will move and change you. I need to break my old habits so that I can dig deeper, go farther and find more. If it works, I will have more to bring back and share with you
I will still write emails as long as this proves to be a fruitful tool for expressing myself and reconnecting with my voice but I am making no promises about frequency, subject matter, length or tone.
It’s time to do something different. It’s time to go it alone. I'm going offline for August. No social media, no twitter, no facebook, no Instagram. No instant gratification, no distraction, no more being on call for nothing.
I have lost my voice and my focus. I’ve been playing one game at the expense of the others which means I am losing at life. I am consumed with what is right in front of me and missing out on the beauty in the distance.
I have lost myself and have become the crowd.
I don’t need to be in a different place, or be a different person. I need to create different habits. My time is incredibly limited. I can’t squander it on things that don’t help me grow, on people who are not engaging with me earnestly. The thrill of getting a reaction, or reacting, is a pale imitation of the thrill I want to create through stories.
Why am I doing so many things I don’t want to do? Why am I spending hours a day, every day, writing things I don’t want to write?
I didn’t write: I want to write status updates, I want to write tweets, I want to write marketing messages, I want to build a brand, I want to create a sales funnel. I didn’t write any of that because I don’t want to do any of that. I want to write stories. I want to write essays. I want to write plays. I want to write letters.
Did you notice something missing when I wrote above what I want to write?
That’s a problem.
Social media has killed daydreaming. Constant connection with others has killed our connection with ourselves. If I’m not connected to myself, I can’t pour myself out into my writing. If I don’t pour myself into my writing, it won’t quench your thirst for a new experience when you read it.
The crowd is online, so I'm going offline.
But baby, I'll send you a letter.