The Thursday Three #35

1. Thomas Sowell, the renowned economist and conservative thinker, has retired from column writing.* He also turned 87 not too long ago, as did Harold Bloom,** who is one of the greatest literary critics of all time. As the years pass, I keep wondering who will replace these brilliant minds.

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. —Harold Bloom

Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. —Thomas Sowell

2. Three songs I’m obsessed with: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because I was daydreaming and came up with an awesome idea for a music video for it, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” because all of a sudden the radio started playing it a lot and I don’t think I had ever heard it before, and Julia Michaels’s “Issues” because it describes a nice mix of dysfunction and commitment.

3. Here’s a picture of a double rainbow (although you can barely see the outer one). Trust me… there were two.

*I highly recommend Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed (1995).

**I highly recommend Bloom’s How to Read and Why (2000).

Anxiety and the Internet

There are countless studies on how the Internet and social media provoke undue anxiety. Yes, the Internet can be used as a marvelous force for good in the world, but in my mind, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Because I’m a “Millennial,” it is hard for me to remember a time when the Internet was not a prevailing force in my life. I started to go online more often when I was about 16 or 17, back when Xanga was all the rage. Reading my peers’ rants and raves caused me to feel as though I had more of a connection with them, and I could more easily convey my thoughts in writing than in speech, so the Internet seemed like it would be a useful tool.

Sometimes I wish the Internet hadn’t made things so “easy,” but at the same time, if it wasn’t for the Internet, I often wonder if things would have been harder for me. This kind of speculation is a waste of time and can also lead to anxiety, so I tend not to think about it too often. I do find that it helps when I see articles such as this one, that acknowledge the need to unplug and regain contact with the outside world.

What can be done to get out of the anxiety-inducing online world?

  • Post less often. Figure out how often you post blogs or comments or podcasts and limit it.
  • Check email less often. It’s OK to let your inbox pile up occasionally. Most of it usually gets deleted unread anyway.
  • An addendum to the previous bullet: go through your emails and see which ones you can unsubscribe to. Trust me; there will be a lot.
  • Don’t turn on your computer (or don’t launch your Internet browser). Once you get it started, it’s harder to turn it off because of the next shiny thing that grabs your attention. So don’t even get that ball rolling.
  • Avoid reading news articles or looking at the news. It’s hard when it seems like every place you enter has ten TVs all blasting CNN. Bring a book or look out a window.
  • Put your phone on silent and put it in a drawer. If you don’t see it or hear it making noise, you might forget that it exists.
  • Talk to real-life people. This is the single most effective way to get out of the online world and out of your own head.

Honestly, the most important thing would probably be to remember that not everything you read or see online is true. Sometimes just knowing is enough to take the edge off anxiety.

Characters as Friends

Way back in November 2015 (yes, this post has been sitting in my drafts folder that long), I posted something in the NaNoWriMo forums about how you can get so close to your characters that it’s almost like having fictional friends.

I know it sounds lame/nerdy/dorky or whatever, but my characters are my friends. Not in the sense that you can talk to them and they talk back, but in the sense that they are parts of you and can help you see different aspects of yourself. Real flesh-and-blood friends help you do this, too, and hopefully the relationship is mutualistic enough that you do this for each other.

Friendship is also about comfort and being able to be your true self around others. You can be yourself around your characters, and you feel comfortable enough hanging out with them even when they sometimes don’t want to go along with your nefarious fictional plots.

Do you see your characters as friends?