Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
For the second time in three days, our power went off yesterday, and we’re not even perched in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. We live in beautiful downtown Cool, Cal., where men are men, women all ride horses, and rain, apparently, shorts out the electrical grid on contact.
But for the second time in three days I experienced what it’s like to be offline for more than a few minutes. Not just offline, but completely off the grid. With an electric stove, I couldn’t make a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. We couldn’t keep up with Trump’s sexploits on MSNBC. There was no light, no heat, and no phone (we’re perma-retro landline holders with only one flip phone between us).
It was pretty awesome.
Since my laptop was available with a full charge, I did some editing of a novel someone hired me for, I learned how to play “Julia” on the guitar, my wife and I took a nap with our dog and one of the neighbor’s cats, and I wrote a blog post or two. I had to postpone cooking a minestrone for dinner because the power hadn’t come back up in time, but we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by candlelight, and that was fun.
I definitely did not miss social media.
Often lately I’ve wondered whether I should back away from the ‘Net. Sure, there’s feedback, conversation, interaction, joking. Other stuff too, like information on demand. But all of this takes time, and when the power goes off you realize there are other things you could be doing, like riding a bicycle, hiking, playing pickleball, and generally enjoying life as a human. The internet and social media have a stranglehold on our time.
You might say, “But I do social media while I’m out hiking, etc.” Well, if you do do that (and we all know you do!), then you’re not fully experiencing the hike, etc. The ‘Net’s got its tentacles around part of your consciousness.
More and more I’m wanting to “kick the squid,” to coin a phrase. Free up my brain for stuff that’s, I have to think, realer. For instance, we’re off now for walk in the warm, misty fog that settled in after the storm. No phones on board.
The trees are weeping. How can we not give them our full attention?
When the power came back on around 8:30 last night, we were a little bummed. Out went the candles, and we immediately ran to our computers.
It’s going to be a process, kicking the squid.