The unintended consequence of switching to faster technology is returning my studio into an internet-free zone. While unintended, this consequence is not bad.
When I moved into my studio eight years ago, I had electricity but neither Internet nor phone. It was peaceful and quiet. I could concentrate.
I called the studio my Chapel of the Imagination.
It’s a jewel box of a room, with a hickory ceiling, pine paneling and a wide-plank floor. Light pours into the room when the trees are bare; when the trees are in leaf, they filter the light and keep the room cool. Best of all, family and household concerns didn’t commute the hundred-yard dash from the house to the studio.
In the early years, I carried my computer back to the house when I needed to check email or make a call on the landline. But as my client list, speaking engagements and teaching gigs increased, I found myself walking back and forth several times a day. While this is one way to get exercise, it wasn’t so good for the sustained concentration of writing.
We’d foreseen the possibility of needing an internet connection when we built the studio, and buried an Ethernet cable along with the power line. About four years ago, I had it hooked up. By then, a new cell tower in town provided reliable phone service as well.
Being connected was both a blessing and a curse.
It was a blessing to be able to do research or fact-check in the middle of a sentence, allowing me to finish a post or a paragraph or a piece all in one go. But it was a curse to be distracted by email and phone calls unless I remembered to turn them off. And I didn’t always turn them off. In fact, sometimes I turned on these distractions, sabotaging myself. My bad.
But when I had legitimate reasons to be on-line for research or email, I found myself spending more and more time waiting for images to load and emails to send, staring at the little graphic indicating slow downloading speed and even slower uploading.
Revolving Phone Companies
I remember how thrilled I was when DSL finally replaced dial-up. But that was several phone companies ago. And whatever promises the current company made about bringing broadband to the hinterland have remained unfulfilled.
The only thing good about DSL was that it was hardwired from the house to the studio. The wireless signal from the new 4G LTE modem in the house doesn’t reach the studio, so I’m again in an internet-free zone. I’ve decided that maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.
Without the connection, the studio has again gone silent, allowing me to hear my own voice. Without the distraction, I can type what I hear without static.
I know there are fixes: I can try moving the router to another location or purchase gizmos to boost the signal. But for the time being, I’m going to go silent at work so I can lay down line after line of text until I finish the two books that have been gestating long enough.
Sometimes an unintended consequence is an unexpected blessing.