Technology, Life, Letters, and Thank Goodness for Outside Biking!March 29, 2017
I’m going through the transition period to outside cycling up here in Minnesota. The weather, in the 70s for a few brief days last month has once again climbed up to the 50s. The sun has also cooperated. I’m glad, because cycling is the perfect way to blow off steam when computers and technical things go wrong.
We have so much technical stuff, so much technology, in our lives now. Even my friends who insist on not being on Facebook struggle with a cell phone and constant contact.
I remember the days when I was a child and the phones were all attached to walls with cords! When my father traveled we received postcards and letters, and on the rare occasion a long distance phone call, the acoustics of which made it sound as if he were calling from the bottom of a metal tube.
I wrote tons of letters in those days. Tons. I wrote to the friends I had in first grade, the first contemporary friends who could actually write. (I learned to read and write rather early.) Later I wrote to the friends I was leaving behind in fourth grade. Later still it letters helped me keep in touch with friend from ninth grade (or third form). This followed moves that left behind sophomore, junior, senior high school friends, and then college friends.
Over time my letter writing dwindled, replaced by emails. I still got the same comments—“too much,” “Can’t keep up,” “you’ll grade my grammar and spelling.” (That last because I worked as an editor—who makes tons of mistakes in her unedited missives!)
I’ve been told by people that they don’t like the way modern methods of connection truncate their communications. This has never happened to me. In January I wrote a text that went on for paragraphs. (Young folks all seem to want to text you, so OK, but I still have to say what I have to say.)
Friends recognize that the blog is really an outgrowth of all those letters sent long ago. That impulse to stay in touch.
But there is still that filter of technology. And when technology decides to be glitchy, as it often does, then it seems to me that life is much more stressful. Picking up a book, instead of sitting at the computer to work, seems odd and unusual. Not being able to stream my favorite show when I’m taking a work break. Having bad phone reception and connections make it impossible to not converse with work associates or friends.
I realize I’ve been both horribly spoiled by all this technology at the same time I’ve been walled in by it.
Spring reminds me that it’s time to break out from behind all those walls and get out in the sun. Biking allows me to get my heart rate pumping and return to work refreshed so I can cope with all the little glitches.
I won’t be writing letters again the way I once did, but I do have a huge stack of books waiting to be read, one by one. And a new schedule which takes me away from the computer a little earlier in the evening—I hope to paint more.
I hope you are getting out to enjoy the spring (or the fall, my other favorite season) and painting.
Burying the Lead: International Fake Journal Month Begins on Saturday!
If you would like an excuse to get away from your computer or other technology I’d like to suggest that you participate in International Fake Journaling Month. It starts April 1 of course—though it is no joke.
Each year in April I and a bunch of intrepid visual journal keepers ad0pt a persona and keep a fake journal, making one entry (or more) per day in April.
The entries are kept in the present moment just like regular journal entries—if you’re writing and drawing at 1 p.m. that’s the time you put on the entry. (You also put the day’s date.)
What’s the advantage to working as someone else documenting events that aren’t actually happening? Well you can read all about it my blog dedicated to this event.
Basically it’s a fun way to try a style of journaling that isn’t “you,” to use new media that you don’t yet understand, and to drive your internal critic absolutely bat**** crazy.
I’ve been doing this since I was a child and I’ve finally convinced people to play along. Why don’t you join us? (There’s a Facebook group where you can post your work.)
Oh, the other point I like to stress for people interested in participating is that I encourage people to set up a character who works only 30 minutes or less each day. That keeps the project something you can work into your life and have a better chance of finishing out the whole month with daily entries. (And it is so fun and satisfying to hold the journal at the end of the month!)
There are tips on finding a character, selecting a journal and medium, etc., on the Official International Fake Journal Blog. Go to that blog, scroll down until you see “Find Related Posts” in the right-hand column and then start clicking and reading on anything like “tips,” “characters,” “media selection,” you name it.
So the side effect of all this fakery is that participants get a boost in their daily journaling habit. Some actually develop such a habit for the first time. Some send their internal critics running in terror (such a nice turn of events). And we all have fun amazing each other with our discoveries. (I encourage people to write a wrap up evaluation of what happened for them at the end of the process.)
What could be more fun?
Well painting in gouache and cycling for two things—but I’m already doing those and as of Saturday I’ll be doing the third.
Want Some Video About International Fake Journal Month?
In 2015 Design Recharge artist Diane Gibbs interviewed me about the process of keeping a fake journal.
Part one—is here, we got a little side tracked and talked about visual journaling and sketching in general. So Diane had me back later for part 2!
Part two—is here, this time Diane and I talked about the guidelines and typical pitfalls first time fake journal keepers encounter. This video runs 65 minutes and is a great “short” introduction to the practice of keeping a fake journal.