Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Disconnecting: A Good Thing?

DayUM but I’m sick of the whole time-sucking, tooth-grinding, sub-minimum-waging computer effing CONNECTED goddamn THING. Here’s a question (by way of getting a word in the title into the first graf, as an SEO thing): what if, what IF you disconnected (got that, Google? DISCONNECTING!) about every second day? Yeah, you got that right: what if every other day you refrained from signing on to your computer, your tablet, your phone, your whateverTF?

Oh, let’s go all the way: what would happen if you only signed in every third day? What if you read your email and cruised the net and dorked around with your social media no more often than once every three days? What if you reserved the third out of every three days for computer connectivity, and all the rest of the time you reclaimed for your SELF?

Dare one suggest that your sanity might be much bolstered by such a scheme? Dare one suggest that, in fact, you might regain a grip on your humanity?

This morning as I was driving out to the Thursday wee-hours meeting in Scottsdale, a thought intruded on the zen-like calm elicited by sharing the roads with several thousand fellow homicidal drivers:

I want my ranch back.
I want my horses back.
In specific, I want a propane refrigerator and a propane range and water running in from the Hassayampa and a stockpond full of bass and couple of candles for light after dark and my dogs chasing after me and Babe as we roam across the landscape and Ruby trying to catch a cow and most specifically I do not want a fucking computer yammering at me.
At 7:16 in the morning, I want not to be running effing LATE to a business meeting but saddling up Babe for a day-long amble through the back-country of a thousand BLM acres.
I want to spend the day exploring the back-country by horseback, not exploring the Internet by keyboard.
I want my effing life NOT to come to an end because Cox’s effing connection to the effing Internet goes down for half a day. Or for any length of time.

My life is wonderful and urban and technologically enhanced and amazing and unimaginable just a couple of decades ago and godDAMN but I hate it.

Is there anyone out there, anywhere, who wants as much as I do to be FREE of the technological glory that is Life in Twenty-First Century America? Am I the only person on this planet who would dare suggest our lives today represent some kind of Hell?

We have, it must be said, devices (naturally…) to help us avoid wasting exorbitant numbers of hours on the Internet.

But I don’t think that’s the issue. To use moi as an example again: Although I do waste a certain amount of time on the Net reading the news and playing repetitive computer games, in fact MOST of the time stolen from my life is devoted to work: writing blog posts; tracking down factoids; downloading, storing, and documenting Shutterstock images; keeping a grip on the vast organizational challenges entailed in coordinating the publishing, editing, writing, and blogging empires; paying bills online; managing blogsites; riding herd on the freaking endlessly fire-hosing e-mail; creating a “presence” on other sites…and on and on. Most of this is work-related or IRS-related.

Most of the time absorbed by Connectivity has to do with business or with attempts to make some kind of profit.

And most of that profit, to the extent it exists at all, is minuscule. The Third-Worldization of educated American workers happens through a computer portal. The miraculous technology that infests our lives has taken us back the the sweatshop.

So I wonder: what would happen if we time-stamped ourselves out of the sweatshop? What if we restricted computer time to once every other day or once every third day? Would we not, given a shorter time frame, accomplish the same amount of online work in fewer hours, simply because we would have to focus on getting through x or y amount of work in half or a third as much time? And would our professional and personal lives come to an end if all we did on the Net was specifically related to a given client or job? And the rest of it went away because we limited the number of hours online?

What I propose is not exactly going off the grid (although just at this moment I would be beside myself with joy to find a practical way to do so). The question is, can we go partly off the grid without watching our lives grind to a halt?

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Author: funny

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  1. I’m with Ya! Basically where the heck does the day go? So you get up…check your e-mail…respond to some e-mails…..then check what going on in the world…then check a blog or two out …. respond/comment where applicable…then it’s time to check your e-mail again for the “responses to your responses”….You respond once more….Go to head out the door to do some banking…and it’s 11AM…and I’ve accomplished nothing….where the heck does the time go? I wonder sometimes if we, as a society, are too connected.

    • That sounds EXACTLY like my life. The amount of time wasted in unnecessary or trivial activity boggles the brain.

      But another aspect of the condundrum is that the computer makes it too easy to pack work in at any time of the day or night.

      It’s 6:41 a.m. I’m sitting on the bed. I’ve just finished repairing a formatting error in the cookbook that the e-book formatter noticed in the content for the .ePub version — something that THREE PEOPLE (including moi) did not see. This has entailed mind-numbingly sifting through every one of 288 pages and manually updating styles. The resulting screw-up of the table of contents will require another manual reformatting– the TofC is three pages of 11-point type with subheads Wyrd erases every time you redo the pagination. Then I will have to go through the entire thing again to manually hide pages on section openers, front and back, because Wyrd can’t be programmed to do that, either. The potential for error in both the latter tasks is high…I’ll probably end up doing one or both of those twice.

      All of this before breakfast.

      I want my horses back.

      • Oh Funny….you bring a tear to my eye. Horses, IMHO, are one of the more spiritual animals one will ever encounter. They don’t ask for a lot and are loyal to a fault. As a child we had horses & cows on the Family Farmette. I was in 4-H and my folks decided boarding horses would be a good enterprise to get into. They leased the adjoining 26 acres and began the boarding operation. BEFORE school I would feed and check the 16 horses and then turn them out. And then AFTER school would get them in an bed them down for the night. I learned much from our horses and I miss my Buckskin “Joseph” to this day… I actually got to swim with him in the local quarry and went riding with him in “belly-deep” snow. I took him to rounded up our “wayward cows” that had gotten out at 6AM and herded them back home. He was one of a kind. I can remember clearly calling to him from the fence when he was in the lower meadow grazing and he would take the time to trot up to say “hello”….A simpler time in deed…..

      • Yes. And Babe: what a fine beast she was.

        Babe was the first quarterhorse I’d ever ridden. And when I got on her for the first time, I had NO CLUE about the concept of a 90-degree left turn at a crisp canter. Holy sh!t!!! I almost flew right out of the saddle.

        No one can smarten up a dumb human faster than a horse. If a horse can’t smarten you up, you’re hopeless.

  2. If it makes you feel better, why not do it?

    I’m not stressed out by my use of technology, although I did learn what a time suck it can while I was off work. There were days that seemed to whiz by, yet I had done nothing more than poke around online. I can’t say I even felt I accomplished much. I did research some stuff to make my life a little easier (e-reading options, for example) and clean up my personal email a bit, so I guess that was progress.

    If you want to sell up and move to the country you can do that, too. You’d likely have to trade that dream for another one (such as leaving a legacy for your son), but we can’t have it all, and there is always a choice that has to be made in these situations.

    • Big problem with moving to the sticks — for anyone but especially for us old bats — is that medical care is usually substandard. Way substandard. In a state like Arizona, where only two, maybe three medical centers are considered excellent in patient safety and care, you risk your life to move back to the ranch.

      One of these is within shooting distance of Yarnell. In an emergency you’d have to be helicoptered up there, but it is one of the three top-rated centers in the state. Recently a friend’s sister needed care urgently for a serious condition. What she got there was incompetence. So…even if the feds rate a hospital highly, it remains to be seen whether any given individual will get high-quality care.

  3. I’ll take your questioning one step further. “Are we any less lonely because of social media?”

    Personally, I think not.

    • Agreed! In fact, I’d say the opposite holds true. The computer allows us to distance ourselves physically from others while pretending we’re still interacting with them. In fact, when you’re tapping characters and numbers on a keyboard, you’re not interacting with a human being: you’re interacting with a computer. It creates the _illusion_ that you’re “with” another human being. But hey! I don’t know what you look like. You don’t know what I look like. When you ask your question, I don’t know whether it’s with a lifted eyebrow and sardonic smile or with the earnest gaze of a searcher after truth. Neither of us knows whether the other is a nun ministering to the poor in India or an ax murderer.

      Where it really seems to matter, IMHO, is in teaching. The move to online “education” divorces the teacher from the student, Virgil from Dante. Imagine Virgil handing poor Dante a GPS, pointing him in the direction of the First Circle, and saying, “Go for it, kid!”

      • “…when you’re tapping characters and numbers on a keyboard, you’re not interacting with a human being: you’re interacting with a computer.”

        Yikes, I strongly disagree with this sentiment and I hold you as one example of why. When I email with you, I don’t think I’m writing to your computer, I’m writing to you, the person who has had all these interesting challenges, experiences, and adventures in life. I may not know how your face creases and crinkles when you laugh but that doesn’t devalue the experience of reading your thoughts and responding. It’s no more interacting with a computer, unless you’ve programmed a particularly clever bot which has apparently passed the Turing test!, than it’s only interacting with your mailbox or pen when I write you a letter or a card.

        It’s an incomplete picture, I’ll grant, but there are so many people who have become friends, you included, because I’ve learned about you and interacted with you over the years. And for those whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person? Most times, they’re exactly as “advertised”.

      • Hmmmm…. True, it’s what’s BEHIND the face and the expressions and the gestures that matters. And maybe in some respects one gets a more direct view to the human being behind the surface when interacting electronically.

        huh… Gives me an idea: What would happen if you wrote a story — or a whole novel! — about a relationship that takes place solely online? The characters would never see each other: only their personae projected through the Internet. It would have to happen without benefit of Skype or YouTube or FaceTime…that is, the characters interact ONLY through keyboard-driven social media and email. Heh…you’d have to write fast, though, ’cause before we know it, all social media will be voice-driven. 😀

        In fact…can you embed audio files in WordPress? Facebook? This gets better and better…

  4. I’m likely to be the long voice of dissent here.

    If we’re traveling on vacation, I make it a point not to check emails or social media for the most part so I appreciate living the moment but otherwise, I stay connected so that I can be part of the world. Yesterday we spent 3 hours at a memorial service and it was nice to see our friends again, but it wrecked me the rest of the day.

    In most cases, I’d be laid up for 10 days after, and I’m just lucky it didn’t go that way this time (I don’t think!) Those 10 days, bedridden, get pretty lonely. With Twitter and email, though, faraway friends keep me company and caught up with the important things.

    Your point stands for the able-bodied and healthy but some of us would be unhealthily cut off from the rest of the world without this level of connection.

    By golly, I do miss being able to ride, though!

    • Ohhh boy, there’s something to that! As a practical matter, the time-sucking quality of connectedness works hugely to your benefit when you’re laid up. Nothing makes time pass faster than cruising the internet. 😀 And few things make time pass slower than daytime TV!!

      {sigh} Sorry to hear about the stress-inducing memorial service…good to hear you were able to shake off the effects…with a little help from your friends, even if only virtually in the room.

    • Actually, though, as I think about it… The issue that caused yesterday’s rant is slightly different from social, personal computer use. Yesterday (and most days) the tooth-grinding was elicited by work-related computer programs in which I’m doing tasks that need to be done promptly, that are mind-numbingly boring, and that you just want to get OVER with.

      It was after 9 p.m. before i reached a point where i could stop. I’d been working for hours; the only break was a meeting with the client, where we…yes…looked at our computers.

      The kinds of chores I’m doing are ditzy. One mistake and you have to do it over. And over. And over. And maybe over again. By “over” i mean ALL the hoops you jump through to make process X or Y happen have to be jumped through repeatedly.

      For example, one thing I regularly do is crop a TIFF that has been generated from a PDF. To make this work, you have to align the crop lines EXACTLY with the outside margin of the image, and no, there seems to be no way to make Preview do this with a single command. If you’re a zillionth of a millimeter off, you get a white line along the offending edge. And yes, you can Command-Z and do it over again…and agaiIt’s an irritating job that reaches crazy-making levels at about the fourth try.

      Another of yesterday’s chores entailed converting Word files formatted in a special template to PDFs (the idea is to ape book layout) and uploading the PDFs to the printer’s platform.

      Word has been known to corrupt in conversion to PDF. Find overlapping paragraphs. Do the whole thing over. Humans have been known to miss errors. Fix error. Do the whole thing over AGAIN.

      Sure, some of these errors might be spotted if you printed the file and read the copy in hard copy, but the books in question, one of which is not mine, range in length from 200 to 400 pages. Just ONE printout of each would absorb the entire gigantic Costco pile of paper in my supply closet! If I had to print them out two or three times to get them right, just the cost of paper would bankrupt me. So I try to proofread — over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over — online.

      Thursday my eBook formatting dude remarked that a number of the recipes in the cookbook he’s reformatting for ePub do not appear in the table of contents. WTF? The TofC is a Wyrd function — they should all be picked up. Check, check, check…holy shit: a half-dozen titles are styled “normal paragraph” but someone (possibly not me?) has retroactively formatted them in the same font and size as the “chapter title” style. The difference isn’t visible to the naked eye. We don’t know how many other recipes failed to make it into the ToC — he came across those as he was coding the document in HTML (don’t ask!).

      The cookbook has been read by at least three people. Tina has proofed it twice, maybe three times. I have read it and reread it more times than anyone could possibly count. No one spotted this. So now I have to go through the ENTIRE DAMN DOCUMENT — and it’s huge, its formatting is complex — and highlight every. single. B-level. head., looking at the “styles” bar each and every time to identify the ones that are not styled correctly.

      Wyrd can be set to not show your running header and page number on the first page of a chapter. That’s very nice.

      But chapter openers are not a book’s ONLY pages that do not show page numbers. For example, a page that demarcates a section, such as one whose only word is, in 87-gerjillion-point type, RECIPES, should not have a running header or page number on it. Any page that is left blank: no running header/page number. Certain pages of the front and back matter: no running header/page number.

      When you lay out a book to look somewhat formal, as though you were a real publisher and this were a real book you were tricking out, the first page of each chapter should appear on the recto side of a page: that is, on an odd-numbered page. So, let’s say chapter 3 ends on page 47. The back (verso) side of page 47 (that would be page 48) should be left blank and chapter 4 should start on page 49. Page 48, then, should have no running header or page number.

      You can’t MAKE Wyrd do that. To cause this to happen, you have to jury-rig a system: create a rectangular box in “Shapes.” Remove the stupid goddamn shadow Wyrd defaults to include with its clunky “Shapes.” Save the blank white rectangle in a separate Wyrd file, so you can access it again, because you sure ARE gonna need it again. Copy the rectangle to the verso page; move and shape it so it covers the running header and page number. Save. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…..

      Would this be easier in InDesign? And wouldn’t typesetting look a helluva lot better in InDesign? Undoubtedly. I have taken the Indesign course THREE TIMES and still can’t figure out how to use that program. I have printed out the InDesign user manual: it fills TWO HUGE THREE-RING BINDERS, the kind with three-inch wide rings. I am not paying Adobe (especially not after the Photoshop fiasco) to rent the privilege of using their software in the cloud, because I do not want my own or my client’s data on someone else’s server and because $20 a month quickly adds up to more than the program is worth. For something between $35 and $1035, I could buy the program in a box from Amazon. But do I really want to spend THAT many hours struggling to figure out how to use this program when a few workarounds with the software I have will do the job?

      Probably the difference here is that the functions most people use for fun or to while away the hours has become something akin to a job. It’s stuff I feel I HAVE to do, and under a time constraint.

      Same is true for using social media to market and publicize your books. Emanating post after post, with appropriately sized images, to audiences whose number dwarfs the size of your circle of real friends feels like it consumes your time pointlessly. If we were selling hundreds of books, maybe. But we’re not: we sold 5 books on Amazon last month. One was returned. Three had been advertised on Smart Bitches/Trashy Books, making our ROI there approximately -$33 per title. The fifth was the cookbook: one copy! If my time is worth $60/hour, I could not even begin to estimate what the negative ROI on that might be!!!

      In person, I sold about $150 worth of cookbooks in under an hour. Just to my friends. I haven’t even tried to sell them face to face at public venues — because I’ve been too preoccupied with diddling with the freaking computer to pick up a copy of the damn thing and shop it around town!

      When what you HAVE to do online becomes a repetitive, mind-numbing, monstrously time-consuming, frustrating grind, the enchantment inherent to the tool at hand fades.

  5. I think technology/being connected is a matter of perspective. It can turn into a massive time suck, but it can also become incredibly freeing. In my career technology has enabled me to extend travels by periodically working remotely. I would typically work one day per week and take the remaining days off. Without it I would be tied to an office to work such that I would either have to cut my travel or take the time unpaid after I burned through my annual five weeks of paid time off.

    One of my favorite blogs had a recent post that I think provides a great example of how they’re making technology work for them when it comes to a weekend house they purchased.

    What version of Mac Office are you using? I previously used 2008 and 2011, which were both garbage compared to PC versions. I upgraded to 2016 when it was released, and I have been quite pleased with the performance. I mostly use it for Excel and simple document work though. For more complex work I predominantly use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. I love the programs and have found that, if I cannot figure out how to do something, a quick google search will return step-by-step instructions. I use the subscription service because I like being able to have the newest software version all the time, but my files save to my machine not in the cloud.