A vow of silence, a cyber-sabbatical: My plan for 2011

A week ago I announced on Facebook that I would be abandoning social media in 2011. This drew a flood of comments and questions, both online and in person, from friends and family. So I thought I would inaugurate this year of my partial unplugging from the Matrix by explaining here, in what will be my sole Teeming Brain post of the calendar year (although see below), the exact nature of and reasons for my choice.

WHAT I’M DOING

First, a clarification: I’m NOT abandoning computers and the Internet completely. This was one of the commonest questions I received. I was careful to specify in the aforementioned Facebook update that it’s the Web 2.0 milieu that’s the object of my cyber-fast. More specifically, and as mentioned above, what I’ll be withdrawing from is the social media subset of the whole thing. This means that while I will still update MattCardin.com with news about my publications and such, and while I’ll still use the Internet to get some of my news and information — including, especially, a host of essays and other worthwhile, long-form reading matter — I won’t be posting or paying much attention at all to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I’ll put The Teeming Brain into hibernation, but will continue — thanks to the savvy suggestion of a friend who shall remain unnamed (although you know who you are, Simon) — to maintain and update Demon Muse, probably on a monthly basis. The site has been flying in a holding pattern for the past three months anyway, so monthly updates will constitute an acceleration.

A lot of people wrote to ask if I would keep using email. The answer is yes, but my use of it will assume a highly restricted form compared to my customary schedule. In the past I’ve been one of those people who, when I’m working on a computer, has left Gmail open in the background, the better to respond to time-sensitive messages immediately when they arrive. No more of that. In 2011 I’ll wall off my email activity into two or, at most, three distinctly defined daily sessions: morning, noon, and the end of the workday. Beyond that, nada.

In addition, my overall allotment of online time in general will be drastically curtailed. I’ll regulate and compartmentalize it much in the manner of my email schedule. This will represent a dramatic departure from my former way of doing things.

Beyond all of this, I’m cutting back on the amount of time I spend listening to music and podcasts. Since I was a teen, I have generally filled my drive-time with a buzzing wall of technologically piped-in noise. Now I’m traveling almost entirely in silence.

WHY I’M DOING IT

So what gives? What happened to elicit this plan? Why this shifting of the gears?

By way of an answer, I’ll exploit the very medium that I’m partially abandoning. What follows is carefully chosen, and worth watching to the very end.

(Dialogue immediately before the start of the scene below:

TECH SUPPORT: It’s been a brilliant journey of self-awakening. Now you simply have to ask yourself this: What is happiness to you, David?

DAVID: I want to live a real life. I don’t want to dream any longer.)

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on January 11, 2011, in The Teeming Brain and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Best Wishes!
    (And sorry I missed your signing in Springfield by literally a few hours).
    I think it’s important for us to unplug, detach and otherwise create for ourselves a hermetic existence in order to find our ultimate truth, whatever that is. (Does the dark place in my mind make me look insane?)-ha!
    I’ve already bookmarked ‘Demon Muse’ and look forward to regular notes on how this journey will work for you. (I’m especially interested to see how this works for you as a writer since at present most of us are told we can’t be successful without websites, blogs, FB and twitter accounts.) Wishing you all the best for 2011!

    • Thanks for that, Autumn. The question of how this whole thing might impact my visibility as a writer is indeed a pertinent one. In fact, one of the things that led to my decision — which arose spontaneously, as a fully formed choice — was an involuntary and mounting sense of revulsion at the cyber-fied culture of self-promotion that we’ve collectively built up over the past decade and two. I simply cannot bring myself to believe, and in fact I’ve grown disgusted at the universality of the claim, that this sort of plugged-in-ness is flat-out indispensable to career success as a writer. I suppose we’ll see.

  2. Michael Harvill

    In the long run I think this will be for the best and only aid you in your career. Writers have managed to succeed in their vocation long before the Web existed. How fitting that the first video you posted was from the film Network. That sums it up. Humanity made it this far without the aid of a super-gigantic computer network and endless distraction can in many cases detract from your focusing your energy. I am sure you will manage.

  3. see you on the flip side Matt. I think you are going to have a wonderful time. I envy you.
    πŸ˜€
    pamela

  4. Congratulations Matt on taking a step out of the social-mediasphere. I will miss the blog posts which were always interesting and provocative reading but it’s good to know that Demon Muse will continue, highly inspirational as it is.

    It would be interesting to know how it works out personally and creatively…

    Best wishes

  5. Dude, the LATOC forums were one of the darkest pits in the entire hellish landscape of the social web, a spiritual black hole that sucked you in and didn’t let you escape. Being banned saved me from that particular oblivion a long time ago, but getting shut down is even better.

    I think you are making a wise move by leaving the social web. I’ve come to the conclusion that the internet is for the most part a very dark place, and if a global brain truly is emerging it is something monstrous and malevolent like a Lovecraftian deity. Flee from it, for your sanity and your life!

    • The LATOC forums did get rather, shall we say, challenging in their latter years, didn’t they?

      I dig your likening of the global cyberbrain to a Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Its fundamental mode of mind is, from our human perspective, insanity. We are to each other inherently antagonistic, antithetical, anathema. Open a Twitter account and lose 50 sanity points.

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