Most people who use the internet are addicted to instant gratification. Humans, it’s been said, are “informavores.” We crave information or, to put a more biblical spin on it, we thirst for knowledge. But, to the writing of books and the gathering of wisdom (though this is not all the internet offers), there will be no end. And there is no built-in end to our internet usage, until something in our life pulls us away from that labyrinth, that big sweaty metropolis with no street signs. The internet is a dangerous place.
But, so is Chicago. And that’s why I don’t avoid the internet entirely. There are bad neighborhoods, certainly, but the downtown is an “important” place to visit. It is important like chairmen of boards. They are “important.”
What I want is to be intentional about where I go and why I go. If you’re going downtown Chicago, have a point. If not, you’ll just be spending a lot of money. In this extended metaphor we’ve made, which will break down in about thirty-five seconds, the money we are spending is time. The internet is costly in time. Almost everything you need or want on the internet is free. And if it isn’t free, there are ways around that, too.
You might be asking yourself, “Okay, so what have you done?”
Before I tell you what I have done, let me tell you why I’ve done it.
I like to write. And when I write, what I need is complete focus. I enjoy having a bit of white noise in the background, but my taste in white noise has changed significantly in the past few years. In high school, I liked the white noise of coffeeshops and they were the only place I really could write. Nowadays, I like the white noise of a road, or maybe birds. A window fan (mine being unfortunately pink: the red box lied). I can only listen to music that I have successfully placed in my mind as “background music.” This is hard for me to do, because as soon as I relegate an artist I enjoy to this place, the thrill of listening to them on their own fades away.
I need some sort of extra thing going on in the background–more than just my typing–to keep me focused. It really helps.
What does not help with writing is instant gratification. Instant gratification, the option for it, is simply too great a thing for me to handle while I’m writing. I am always tempted by instant gratification right before I sit down to write. This makes sense, too. The most difficult part of writing is actually sitting down and starting. We have this built-in fear, a direct upgrade from the fall, of creating things. Secular writers call it Resistance (all rights reserved) and one even wrote a book called “Do the Work,” a book about fighting against this primordial darkness of Resistance. He argues that nature wants to stay as it is, with nothing unchanged. When we create something, we are fighting against nature, which sends Resistance after us. I guess.
Part of this Resistance is fear. We, or me at least, fear to sit down and make something. It is a physiological thing. It could just as easily be called laziness. And this laziness–or resistance, or fear–pushes us away from the work set before us to anything around that might consume our time, our motivation, our energy, our skill, our image-bearing reserves.
And when the internet is in the room, fear and resistance and laziness and distraction unite to bring even the most brilliant writer down.
To be continued…