QUAIL MUTTERINGS #44. The Digital Age (January 2017)
We all have our strong suits. For me, it’s definitely NOT technology. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been born into the wrong era. I like Model-As. The engine design is straightforward and strictly mechanical. If something fails it does not have to be hooked up to a computer for analysis. Usually, the repairs could be made with what the owner had stashed in the shed: baling wire, nuts and bolts, gasoline for cleaning parts. I also prefer windows that open to air conditioning; book research as opposed to surfing the web; and not being available 24/7 for countless, often unnecessary interruptions.
I prefer to live my life as real experiences, things I can sink my teeth into, rather than vicariously participating in random, unchosen forays. I realize in my wording of this that my biases come through, and it’s a little sad. Sometimes I feel like I’m left farther and farther behind in a culture that spends so much time transfixed to a device.
“Hello! Is there anybody REALLY out there?” At times it’s a little lonely.
Unfortunately, for folks like me, writing in this day and age absolutely requires an online presence. I’m alright spending “some” of my time on a device making that happen, but not as much as necessary to reach an audience. My computer skills are gradually improving, as is increasingly mandatory, but not adequately. I’m realizing that my happiness diminishes the more time I spend attempting to promote myself online. Therefore, I have decided to invest a little money to have someone else help out. The younger generation doesn’t seem to mind these tasks as much as I do and they possess a faster learning curve in this field than me. It was a long time in coming, but it feels like the right decision for me.
In the short time she’s been involved, Mercy has rebuilt my website, created a business Facebook page, and coached me, tiny step by tiny step, dragging me kicking and screaming, into the modern age. I’m in over my head, concerning the technical details of “existing online.” Being such a troglodyte, I’m not even fully aware of everything she’s doing on my behalf. That is partly the beauty of it. I learn this stuff on an “as needed” basis. Perhaps, as intended, I can now spend more of my quality time actually writing instead of telling everybody about my writing and tweeting about myself. Moving on…
I sit here today in an elementary school library at a table with three children who are typing vigorously into their Chromebooks and two who are working independently on worksheets. They will tell me when they need help on their work that they’ve been sent out of their classroom to do. I’m finishing up a half-day substitute job, staying for my required number of hours, supervising their independent study time. So I write, modeling constructive behavior while making it clear that I am available to them.
These kids have been born into a new age where they must be willing and able to spend their life-blood researching, reporting, and staying connected on their digital devices. I’m glad that my time began earlier, in the last century. A lot of my writing begins free-hand, pen on paper, sitting outside or in the car waiting or here at school in-between tutoring sessions. Sometimes, I now type my ideas directly into the computer. I’ve learned to do it both ways. I have at least three or four literary projects going at a time which keeps my interest alive. But now, it’s nearing the end of my sub-job day and I can’t wait to go home and take a hike. Time to go outside and play!
Chi Varnado is a contributing writer for The San Diego Reader. Her memoir, A CANYON TRILOGY: Life Before, During and After the Cedar Fire and her children’s book, The Tale of Broken Tail are available on www.amazon.com. Her collection of essays, Quail Mutterings, can be found on www.chivarnado.com.