Home > Life, Writing > On life and writing: disconnect to connect

On life and writing: disconnect to connect

September 27, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ever feel connected to the world through your iPhone, or even your iPad? You can pretty much do anything with these devices: play games, read the news, send and receive email, check Facebook. Know what you can’t do with a smart phone? Well, watch this great video and find out.

As time goes by, I feel myself wanting to pull away from technology and spend more time in the real world. You know, that place where we all spent our time long before instant connection, instant communication, and constant interruption? As the video illustrates so well, as we are absorbed by our technology (or assimilated for those STTNG fans out there), we become disconnected from one another, and soon, our focus shifts from the world in which we live, and the people we love, to our gadgets. Eventually, for all practical purposes, we end up alone in a world of our own making, a world consisting of the Internet and everyone except those who are actually physically present with you. And sometimes, it can get even worse. Read this post to see how.

We writers should take note. For us, it’s especially important we take in the world around us — people, places, things — and use it to create stories filled with characters and places and events made real by that which we’ve experienced firsthand. Sure, there’s a place for the Internet and those gadgets we all love to own (click here to see my own technology obsession). They’re great for helping with research, keeping up with the news, reading about new things and new ideas, and providing a little entertainment. It’s only when our digital world becomes more important than the real world that we run into trouble.

Is anything worth losing the connection with those closest to us?


  1. September 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I lament this almost daily. It is at once an awful beast and a blessing in some forms. When people are addicted it is as bad as dealing with any other addiction and totally destructive to real world connection and relationships. Only if the addicted person chooses to change is there hope. Otherwise perfectly great relationships are flushed down the toilet daily. So sad to watch or be in a room with an addict. Rudeness. Going to watch the vid now, thanks for sharing your thoughts. And no, NOTHING is worth losing the connection with those closest to us. 🙂

    • October 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      It is, indeed, very sad. And it’s this very thing that I worry about and that I don’t want to ever happen to me or anyone that I love. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed the video.

      • October 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        I shared the video madly! lol It was sooo good! People should be required to watch it before they are allowed to own any cell phones 😉 Your piece was right on target, hearing more and more and more about this “addiction” being “the new mental illness” likened to drugs, gambling and anything else where someone needs a fix. Sad in my opinion that adults cannot just stop something they know is not good for them or anyone they love. Choices and consequences. I worry too, but not about me. No addictions whatsoever. Except maybe writing, lol 😉

  2. lannyjane
    September 27, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Interesting. I would tend to agree.

    • September 28, 2013 at 10:37 am


  3. September 28, 2013 at 4:05 am

    I love this post, Dave. Recently I was in a restaurant and observed a family of five dining, parents and three teenagers. The moment they were seated, they all pulled out their phones and had their heads down until the waitress came to take their order. After the orders were placed, down went their heads. It made me sad.

    • September 28, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Drives me crazy to see that same scene played out over and over again, whether it’s a family, or a couple, or just a kid so sucked into their iPhone that nothing else matters. Makes me want to go up and snatch away their little gadgets and say, “Stop it!”

      I suppose, though, it’s no different than, say, a couple sitting at a table where one is reading the newspaper and the other a book. I guess our technology has just made it easier to escape from dealing with those around us.

      These days, whenever we go out, I actively avoid whipping out the phone. And I usually will silence it. Is there anything that really can’t wait until later … I mean, back in the day, you had to wait until you got home to see who called you 🙂

    • amberturner1
      September 30, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      This sounds like my family, lol. We text each other when we’re sitting in the same room.

      • September 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm

        I hate to admit that in the past we did this very same thing 🙂

      • October 1, 2013 at 4:57 am


      • October 1, 2013 at 8:50 am

        Yeah, sad huh? Note I did say in the past 🙂

  4. September 28, 2013 at 6:57 am

    You raise a great point. Sometimes I worry I’m spending so much time in my make-believe world, I’m not getting out enough in the real one. And then where will my stories come from?…

    • September 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

      You know, there’s nothing really wrong with living in a make-believe world 🙂 In some ways, I’m not spending enough time in my make-believe world. Not that I’m messing with my iPhone or anything, but I’m not sitting myself down in my chair, placing my fingers on the keyboard, and typing away on the stories that are in my head (stories, not voices … I know they have medication for the latter)

      So, do you spend your time on the Internet? Or are you referring to time you spend dreaming up stories? One is bad … the other is good 🙂

      • September 28, 2013 at 11:03 am

        I was referring to time spent on my manuscript, but yes, I’ve certainly spent far too much time online as well.

        But now I must park my own behind down and draft the dreaded synopsis. Icky.

  5. September 28, 2013 at 7:21 am

    This is why I’m resisting the smartphone craze. I don’t have one and don’t plan to get one — not because I’m a Luddite but because I don’t see a need for it in my daily life. It can only complicate things.

    That said, I’m way too attached to my Mac!

    Very effective video, Dave. Thanks for posting.

    • September 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

      There are times, I must admit, that I feel like tossing my iPhone out the window. Not only does it tend to suck you into using it for non-phone purposes, but you’ve got to pay a lot to do it. Makes me want to get a flip phone and be done with it.

      That being said, I, too, am way to attached to my Mac. It’s not going anywhere 🙂

      Glad you liked the video. I thought the message was worth sharing.

    • September 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      I don’t own a smartphone either, Kevin. I’m doing fine with my flip phone. I can’t search the internet, answer e-mails or text, but I’m surviving just fine. 🙂

      • September 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm

        Hats off to both of you. I think I might revert back to the flip phone after my latest plan is over. Cheaper *and* no temptation to play with the phone. You know, use a cell phone for what it was meant for 🙂

  6. September 28, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    It took me a long time to finally cave in and get a smart phone. Now that I have one, I like all the things it can do, but I try very hard not to let it interfere when I’m spending time with friends in person.

    I do wonder why so many people seem to have a hard time putting their phone away when they’re hanging out with friends/family. That is something I think about a lot—I know I would rather have a face-to-face conversation with a friend than a text one, when I have a choice. (Although a text conversation is better than no conversation!)

    Ursula K. Le Guin has a few great essays in her book The Wave In The Mind that relate to this, and why she thinks reading aloud and having face-to-face interactions are so important. I highly recommend the book (and I’m not even done with it yet).

    • September 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with smart phones, per se. There are things I can do with my iPhone that are very handy. For example, I get lost pretty much anywhere I go, so the whole GPS functionality is awesome for me. But more and more, I find myself leaving my phone at home, or in the car, or turned to silent mode when I’m out and/or with other people.

      One thing I neglected to mention, however, and I thought of it because you mentioned talking face to face, was the ability to Facetime with an iPhone. I absolutely love being able to talk to my kids using Facetime, because I can see them *and* talk to them, and I for one really appreciate that. Talking on a phone is fine, but being able to see them is wonderful. We have a son and daughter-in-law and grandson in Wisconsin, and a daughter and granddaughter in Reno, and we Facetime with them all the time. Love it. Now that’s using smart phones for something good. Of course you can also do that with an iPad, or a computer. But still, you get the idea.

      Me personally, I much prefer face-to-face conversions, even over the phone. There’s something about seeing a loved one, or a friend, that just can’t be done with a regular phone call.

      The book you mentioned sounds fascinating. I’m curious now. Maybe you can write a blog post about it? Otherwise I’ll be forced to read the book 🙂

      • September 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm

        I will probably write a blog post about it at some point! She has a lot of great things to say about writing and reading in general, but those essays specifically came to mind with this topic. 🙂

        I do think things like Facetime are a good alternative to phone conversations for situations when in-person conversations are impossible.

  7. Jennifer Pagan
    September 29, 2013 at 5:59 am

    I can’t tell you how much I love this post. Well said, Dave:)

    • September 29, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Thanks, Jenn. Seeing your reply here reminds me that I was remiss in noting that you were the inspiration for this post. Looking forward to your next blog entry!

  8. September 29, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Damn good post, Dave, and that video so well captures the disconnect-connect of our current addiction to technology. You know I love my Macs, especially my iPad. The nice thing about the iPad is that it’s too bulky to be carried around like a smartphone and nobody can call me on it 😉 Right now we don’t have smartphones, in part because we don’t like being locked into a 2-year plan (we use Tracfone). But still, I rarely use my phone for anything other the occasional phone or text message. It irritates me to no end when people I’m with stop in the middle of a conversation to answer a call that could have waited.

    Here’s something funny: My husband and I are planning a trip out West. I should tell you that my husband is proud that he doesn’t have a Facebook account. He doesn’t engage in social media at all. OK, in talking about our future trip, I started telling about blogging friends who live near the places we plan to visit, and wouldn’t it be fun to see them if they were free and interested. His response, “Why don’t we focus on seeing our non-virtual friends” (carefully not noting that our “non-virtual” friends are people we’ve known for a couple of decades, long before the advent of social media). As much I love my blogging friends, that remark really shined a light on how disconnected I had gotten with my “real” world. There’s nothing wrong with trying to see new friends, but the point of our pilgrimage to the West is always, first and foremost, to see the friends we left behind.

    That my husband is anti-social media helps to keep me grounded. I have to admit, without him, I would probably lose myself in my blogging world, especially since I’m such an introvert. That said, I feel lucky to have this problem: to have someone in my life who would rather sit on the back porch and have a conversation with me.

  9. September 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Good one, Dave. I’m a dinosaur when it comes to gadgets. I’ve never sent a text message and my phone doesn’t do anything but ring when someone calls. I don’t own a single object that starts with a lowercase “i.” I am, however, a great conversationist.*

    I’m not bashing people who do the gadget thing, because people have their own interests and hobbies. But it is pretty pathetic how many folks can’t engage with the world around them because some lithium-powered rectangle rules their lives.

    *In a sensible world, this is the correct word, not “conversationAList,” which makes no sense.

    • October 1, 2013 at 5:00 am

      We must be related, Eric. I don’t text either…just speak!

    • October 1, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      There are times I wish I hadn’t gotten involved with the world of Apple gadgets. For a long while, they really sucked me in. However, as of late, I’m finding it not all that satisfying. Like I mentioned to Katie above, I’m looking at possibly moving away from the iPhone and iPad, just getting a regular phone, and sticking with my nifty MacBook. I’ll keep the iPad just for hauling around when I travel.

      I, too, consider myself quite the conversationist. In fact I quite prefer it. The only thing that comes close, and perhaps one of the iPhone’s/iPad’s redeeming features is FaceTime. For example, today I got to talk with my sister and my mom who both live in Texas. Now that’s a cool use of technology that connects rather than disconnects.

  10. September 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Great reminder!

    I try and make it a point now to disconnect from the computer when my husband is home, or this exact thing happens. I totally have a weakness for productivity. That’s bad though, when I sacrifice just being alive, or enjoying the little things.

    It’s something I’m putting a serious focus on now!

    • September 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Yeah, it really seems to take some intentional effort to make this kind of thing happen. It’s way to easy to let it creep in and take over, and before you know it you’re hardly talking to anyone. What really got me started thinking about all this was my son and his wife. We all talked and they shared how they were going to start laying off the technology in favor of spending more time with each other and their young son. That means leaving cell phones at home when going out to dinner, for example. So far, they’re very happy with their decision.

  11. October 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I had a good friend a few years ago that I worked with. He had gotten super-connected with his I-phone (4 i think) and all his new gadgets and apps. Well, to make a long story short – he could no longer carry on a full conversation. He would stop in the middle of a sentence, to read or send a txt, he would get a call and say “excuse me for a moment” every 30 seconds. When he got back to me his mind was somewhere completely different than where we had started talking, and this would happen many times in a 5 minute period. I finally had to txt him and say I was going to lunch even though he was sitting right next to me! But he didn’t find it strange at all and told me “Okay, I’ll see you later.” I changed departments and now we are no longer freinds because I didn’t have a Facebook or I-phone. Scatterbrain, ADD, caused by media technology.

    • October 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Yeah, and even worse, it’s the kind of generation that’s being raised right now. They have no attention span, no social filters, and can only communicate through texting. All exactly as you describe above. Sad, in my opinion, and basically the reason for the post in the first place. I’m seriously considering reverting back to simpler times with respect to phones. Other than GPS, all I really need is something that makes and receives phone calls 🙂

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