Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do—the actual act of writing—turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.Anne Lamott
Day seventeen of my social media fast. And by social media, I mean specifically Facebook. Something about their algorithm has always been more addicting — at least for me — then either Twitter or Instagram. But I use Instagram primarily for nature photography and writing about nature. Twitter is mainly used for highlighting mental health articles and resources and to respond or encourage fellow writers and favorite authors (and keep on the latest Stranger Things news).
On Facebook, I just endlessly scrolled through my news feed like an addict looking for another fix. And as I’ve mentioned before, it began to have a negative affect my writing.
My addiction to social media in general and Facebook in particular, reshaped my thinking. Now I am accustomed to writing and speaking in sound bites — even my thoughts are centered around how to capture a moment or an opinion in as few words as possible. This is still the case even though most platforms now allow for more than a set number of characters to express my thoughts and feelings.
However, like water on rock, the reshaping of thought patterns has been going on for years now. Attention has reached a ridiculously short span. If your headline doesn’t capture my attention and get your point across, I won’t read the article. As it is, most of us don’t read the articles at all anymore. We just see the headline and assume the rest.
I did this just the other day. I read a headline in the New Yorker and the first paragraph — and assumed what the author was writing about and started feverishly writing an essay in response. It was only when I went back to the article in question to pull a quote that I realized it was a satire piece and my essay was essentially the same.
Now, seventeen days in, I’m reading articles and not just headlines. And this has made me a better, more responsible writer. Not to mention, I’m also writing a lot more — usually every day. My mind still has twenty tabs open and working at the same time, but there’s less spam, less background noise and more bandwidth available to think about things like the etymology of words, how I can approach both of my novels from a fresh perspective (so I can actually finish them), composing more poetry, and thoughtfully reading and analyzing articles.
Disconnecting from the endless, mindless scrolling has began to reshape my thinking again. Because that’s the amazing thing about our brains. Those neural pathways that were hijacked and shifted can be shifted and reshaped again.
Already it has given me back the joy of writing for its own sake.
Joining the Five Minute Friday writing prompt challenge as part of my goal to write and publish once a week in 2019. Find out more here.
Image copyright 2019 MAG
A member of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela D’Eigh is a writer, poet, and lover of Scotch. She lives out in the country with two Egyptian gods disguised as cats, a herd of cows, and a flock of wild turkeys. Check her out at La Belle Dame Merci and on Medium for more articles, poetry, and shenanigans.