I have been online half the day.
“Get out of the house!” I told myself.
I know addictive behavior when I see it.
I had no pleasure in surfing the net, and yet I couldn’t stop. It had been like that for a couple of days.
I am the person who was never supposed to be an addict. See me? “That’s me in the corner…” chatting, drinking Diet Coke.
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough–“Losing My Religion,” R.E.M.
“You’ll never have an addictive personality,” my doctor once said with satisfaction.
But, alas, on my Nook tablet, I click all afternoon between my book and my email. I preferred my Original Nook (which broke), because it barely could get on the internet.
So I go out and walk.
I can breathe outside. I am not clicking on a screen. It’s raining, but I smell the mud and watch the leaves fall.
I stop for coffee. There is a minimal sense of human connection at a coffeehouse, which I very much need after a day on the internet. You recognize the same people from day to day, or at least some of them, and you can nod to them if you’re feeling sociable. And you don’t have that crazy impulse to (almost) reply to a tweet of Ron Charles, the Book Editor of the Washington Post, when he says he is the last one to publish a review of Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch (on the actual publication date). He might have been surprised to hear from me, since he doesn’t know me: “Thanks! I get tired of reading reviews before the books are out.”
No, I love my coffee.
“Friedrich’s is the best,” another walker said as I strolled down the street sipping from my cup with the logo.
“Yes, I agree!”
If it had been a little quieter at the coffeehouse, I might have sat in a comfortable chair. I had a book with me, The Diary of Anais Nin.
But it’s a bit crowded today.
And so I go on.
Down the tree-lined street with the meridian, past the houses for sale that I always want to buy even if they’re in a bad neighborhood, past the Little Free Library, which is not kept well-stocked, and features mainly thrillers and Guides for Idiots, and for once there are no dog walkers.
And I am not online.
And I want to read my book.
And I don’t know how I’m going to read if I have to be online all the time.
Today Brian Loging at his excellent blog The Wannabe Saint discussed our society’s obsession with zombies.
I have seen the undead at times walking in the mall, waiting in a check-out line, jogging down a street. Heads down, mouth mumbling, staring at a screen.
And I hate to think that this is me.
I don’t actually have my device out in public, because I don’t have a phone.
But I need more quiet than I’ve had lately.
I know how to provide this quiet. Turn everything off.