Posts Tagged ‘fear of technology’

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. (Socrates)

The ancient philosopher Socrates may not come to my mind as I listen to ten different ways to use social media as a writer, but how little I know does. I grew up in the fountain pen and manual typewriter era. And I wonder, am I buying the gray-haired stereotype about technology or is some gray matter active under my skull right now? Fortunately the facts-ready speaker at the Mad Anthony Conference gives plenty of reference for later study, so I give up taking illegible notes and take up listening. Hurray for one mode of operation. It helps me to relax and take it all in one step at a time.

As the conference progresses I network face-to-face, meeting and re-meeting other writers. The same advice repeats in several talks: Agents and publishers are human. Approach them as fellow flesh-and-blood creatures, not as unreachable, above-all god figures. Smile. Be yourself.

Moreover, my writing represents who I am, but it only reflects my existence. My spirit stays captured within my body. If I get a rejection or two the earth will continue to spin, the sun will rise and set on schedule, barring Armageddon. Then my computer would be out of commission. Nevertheless, I would probably still grab a paper and pencil and try to chronicle something. Maybe that’s why I go to conferences to learn whatever I can about my craft. I’m addicted to story-telling and don’t want to recover.

In the days of carbon paper and typewriters, a mistake at the bottom of the page required hours of penance. Today the backspace key makes error correction simple. Learning on a deeper level—finding the true self, takes a lot more time and energy.

As I enter each session I consider becoming an empty slate, open to learning the way a young child hears new words, sees different faces,  flowers, and birds, and then pauses to admire smelly dog poop. Discovery transcends borders. The beautiful and the ugly live together and can’t be separated for convenience.

All I need is the willingness to admit that I still have a lot to learn, and that ignorance is okay—more than okay. Then I can plunge into life and embrace wholeness. One adventurous moment at a time. Although I have to admit, Mr. Socrates, not-knowing doesn’t always feel like wisdom at the time.

becoming PIQ





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Above all else, go with a sense of humor. It is needed armor.
Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lip is a sign
that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life. (Hugh Sidey) 

 Famous last words: Sure, one kid today? I can handle this by myself. After all, didn’t I take two sons through the stages of their early lives? Don’t Jay and I frequently have as many as seven children in, out, through this house? It gets a good scrub job later. But we manage. What damage can one three-year-old girl cause?

Ella climbs into the desk chair at the computer—time to watch her favorite videos: “Sesame Street,” “Sid the Science Kid,” “Curious George,” “Super Why.” We share laughs over the same scenes as well as a few new ones. Elmo from Sesame Street explores learning through humor. A bird and a fish don’t nibble the food Halle Berry gives them, so Elmo finds a tiger to demonstrate this word that means “tiny, tiny bite.” Absurdity and learning fit well together.

So do fluke events. At least I don’t think Ella means to find the exact spot on the screen that turns it upside down! My mouse is  confused, too. Fortunately I have a laptop so I flip it over to find an icon with a clue. No luck. Ella’s daddy could help me later, but I decide to call computer-whiz-nephew Alan. He talks me through it with relative ease.

After that crisis I check to make sure that all is upright in the laptop world. Ella escapes my radar. For three seconds. Small crash, fortunately only pretzels. All over the floor. She feasts from the kitchen tile.

“No! No! No!”

Ella is as unimpressed by my censure as the bird and fish were by Halle Berry’s insistence that to nibble does not mean to gobble the entire item, or worse, to absorb Ms. Halle’s hand. Ella grabs a handful of pretzels and stuffs them into her mouth.

“These only.” I give her the few that remained in the bag and reach for the broom and dustpan. “Then I peel a banana for her, better nutrition anyway.

Later, during a more focused moment I ask Ella, “Are you a little girl or a monkey?”

She smiles, looks me in the eye, and answers, “Ooh, ooh.”

Maybe it was that last banana.

(pic from The Secret of Humor is Surprise)

pizza on floor the secret of humor is suprise

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He who is afraid to ask is ashamed of learning. (Danish proverb)

I grew up in the age of carbon paper and typewriters, when term papers meant staying up until one in the morning, bleary eyed. An error always occurred at the bottom of the page. It couldn’t be erased, and the entire page needed to be retyped. The backspace key had not been invented yet. But tears had been. They flowed freely. If only. . . If only my fingers wouldn’t falter I could get an A-plus in Ancient History. Maybe. Who knows? At least that was my fantasy.

The single light bulb above Dad’s old manual burned as dimly as my enthusiasm by page five. Intelligent thought faded into the carbon paper by the end of the assignment. Black. My future looked black.

Now writing five pages, at least from an efficiency point of view, isn’t such a chore. However, my understanding of my precious computer comes from a brain born in the technological dinosaur era. My three-year-old granddaughter with Down syndrome discovered how to get Facebook for five cents a minute on my cell phone while I was in the bathroom at a hotel in St. Louis. We are talking less than two minutes! I had no idea my I-don’t-even-text phone could do that.

Life is a mystery. So are the 0’s and 1’s that draw me to the computer, even when I should be doing something else. Actually, the keyboard draws me especially when I should be doing something else.

I ask questions. And don’t want you-do-it-for-me. Well, not unless the problem is so knotted even a genius needs to confide in the next genius up.

Now, my word processor is giving me new challenges. One of my best friends gave me one answer, then another problem took its place. I have thought about chucking my precious laptop and printer out the window. However, that could be counterproductive, to say nothing of a mess to clean up in the yard.

Does anyone else fight with technology?

(I suspect this photo, found in an e-mail sent by a friend, is strictly a set-up. At least I hope it is.)


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