When I was in Junior High, our district was given a mainframe computer from one of the aerospace companies on Long Island. I think the school plunked it in the Junior High because there was no where else in the district that had a big enough air conditioned room for it.
So I joined the nascent computer club. This was in the mid 70s and I learned basic and a smattering of other computer languages, programed silly games on punch cards and generally thought of computers as something to mess around with.
Fast forward to college, where I had the opportunity to write papers in a room full of dumb terminals instead of a typewriter. Mostly, I stayed with the typewriter, because I rarely had my act together to write the paper longhand before heading to the computer lab where there was a time limit on using the terminals. Then in graduate school in 1984, when I realized a huge part of my program would include writing a thesis based on original research, I persuaded my parents to front me the money to buy a personal computer. The IBM's were the top of the line, but way too expensive. Radio Shack has just come out with an improvement to their TRS-80, a model that had TWO 5 1/4 floppy drives, so you could load the program in one and save the files in the other.
Computer, complete with green glowing screen, and a loud dot matrix printer with fan fold pin paper cost nearly $1000. in 1984 dollars. And the "P" the model number stood for PORTABLE. Really. Stop laughing.
Today, my ipod touch has more computing power and fits in my pocket.
I graduated from the 'trash 80' to a Compaq, to a PC that had a COLOR monitor and ran DOSCommander, a kind of pre-windows shell to manage commands. Then windows came out and we had a series of windows machines, each with its own quirks and issues.
Now I have an HP laptop, an android tablet, and an iPod touch and I'm always on, always connected with a social media presence I never would have thought possible in the days of dial up modems and TCP/IP.
When I stop to think about it, it's pretty overwhelming, actually. I can only imagine my 12 year old self looking at me in 2012 and thinking that I live in a Science Fiction universe. Practically nothing happens in our world without telling someone (or many someones) about it. We tweet, we FB, G+, Blog, and Pin. It's like we're never alone anymore.
Hardly 5 minutes goes by without one of my electronic vices beeping at me. Ray Bradbury has a short story called 'The Murderer' about this. Go look for it, if you've never read it. He was pretty damned prescient about our wired up future. While I may not be ready to take a sledgehammer to my phone or my ipod, I do think I need more time without external distractions for my creative process.
This morning, I did a small thing. I didn't check any social media with my morning coffee. Instead, I let the silence in the house keep me company while I worked on hand writing revisions to a manuscript.
And then I sat and blogged about it.