Writing Through Experience: Put the Phone Down

Discussion in 'Articles' started by JustinCupcake, Oct 6, 2015.

By JustinCupcake on Oct 6, 2015 at 7:17 AM
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    Writing Through Experience: Put the Phone Down

    Discussion in 'Articles' started by JustinCupcake, Oct 6, 2015.

    Writing through Experience: Put the Phone Down.

    By Justin C. Miller

    How many of you witnessed the lunar Eclipse (if you were in the correct part of the hemispheres.) just recently? How many of you just sat there and watched it? Listened to the crickets chirp, or the cars drive by, the wind blow rustling the trees? Who soaked in the feeling of something you may only get to see one or two more times in your life? Who did it without their phone?

    Ah see that’s where that question gets tricky. We experience amazing things, and yes we capture them on our phones and share them with the world around us; and it’s one of the most foolish things as writers we can ever do. Of course we never want to forget this moment and so it’s best to record it… until your storage space is maxed and then it’s not that important anyway.

    We rely so much on our technology to remember things for us and capture things for us that we miss out on a very important part of it all. The feelings, the emotion, the smells, the sounds, the life of it.

    When 9/11 happened in American I remember the moment of the second crash vividly. I was in school, Journalism class. It was a pleasant day outside. The sun shining through the windows. It was a warm day too, we had the windows open and I remember smelling the fresh cut grass from the lawn being mowed earlier in the day. The teacher was teaching us to pay attention, not to him but to everything. Now he was teaching this as an important lesson to journalism telling us that news can happen anywhere, and not more than 30 seconds after he stated that the TV turned on and I witnessed the tragedy that almost all the word knows of. I remeber thinking it was a video he put into the player. I remember the announcement telling students to get to a classroom and wait for further instructions, I remember the panic that night the fear in my parents faces... the quiet of the streets... no one was anywhere but home. And I remember crying for all those poor people, none of them who I knew. ( I am sorry if this part of the article brings back bad memories by anyone affected by that horrible day. Not my intention, just one of the most vivid memories I have)

    The life lesson learned there is that it’s important to look, not with just your eyes but your spirit or soul or whatever else you want to call you’re something that makes you who you are compared to the guy next to you. Those little details missed while worrying if the shot if centered in your phone or if the sound is right, can never be brought back and can never fully be appreciated later. your terror, joy, calm, peace, love, happiness. These feelings cannot be recorded. The acts of them can be, but the memory of them cannot be.

    This article is obviously an opinion, but I feel it’s true. For any creative type. Instead of sharing x even y moment or z happenings with the world… Just put down the phone, be a little selfish, and soak it in.

    We used to tell events by retelling them as stories, it was never about the accuracy of the story... just the telling of it. That is why we want to be writers after all.


    10/06/2015
     
    chazzo, Starbug2, Lozboz and 8 others like this.

Comments

Discussion in 'Articles' started by JustinCupcake, Oct 6, 2015.

    1. Bookster
      Bookster
      I couldn't agree more. I spent two hours observing the eclipse from my deck, and wrote most of a short story (in my head) at the same time.

      I'm lucky to be of an age where I haven't been inclined to be a slave to a phone. I have a cell phone (but not a smartphone) and I've never used the camera nor have I ever sent or received a text. My phone is more often than not in the car when I'm not, or vice-versa. That seems to me to be a more rational relationship than the 'glued-to-my-hand' one exhibited by far too many of my friends, a condition for which I mostly blame Facebook.
      jannert and JustinCupcake like this.
    2. Indigo Sugar
      Indigo Sugar
      you're new.... but i like you...
      JustinCupcake likes this.
    3. JustinCupcake
      JustinCupcake
      Ha! Thank you!
    4. Lifeline
      Lifeline
      Sure, there is a lot of that going around :mad:. I agree completely. The 'smartphone-mania' for sharing everything immediately with everyone else is something I don't understand and importantly, I don't WANT to understand. Am I collective or am I an individual? Resistance is NOT futile :twisted:!

      Going back to the article: Just look at your own memories, which are the most vivid, which of them let you 'live again' this moment. I sincerely doubt that these memories are the ones where you were madly searching for your phone and taking pictures.

      But it makes for hard choices. If you are an aesthete (and a hobby photographer), you will likely have to make a choice between 'making memories' or 'making truly amazing pictures'. So in the split second you realize that you witness something extraordinary you have to decide - do I reach for the camera or do I make memories? As I said, hard choices :D. Thats not to say that taking photos cannot capture something wonderful. It can. Yet the most amazing experiences I've had are only locked away in memories, not pictures. Thankfully I made some right choices in the past :)

      How does this relate to writing? I've found that words, even only bare location facts and two or three words summarizing the situation, with maybe a date or year thrown in, can immediately let me travel back in time. All of what I felt I can feel again. I don't get this with even the best of my photos. So what I do is, I let some time go by and then make these short notes in a little book. They will not mean anything to another person. But for me they are prizeless. And whenever I take this little book in hand and rifle through the pages, it is an instant cure against depression :D.
      jannert and JustinCupcake like this.
    5. JustinCupcake
      JustinCupcake
      This is a great idea! one I have never thought of. What a way to help a writer spark the vivid detail of something distant! I am going to start this.
    6. Lifeline
      Lifeline
      I am glad that you like it, it has helped me time and time again :). One cannot stay miserable when all these amazing experiences come to life again!
    7. jannert
      jannert
      Another aspect to this issue is how ephemeral the photos themselves are. We don't get them printed out on good paper, ink is ephemeral anyway ...and pretty soon we are so stuffed full of silly photos and selfies that they lose their meaning and we start discarding them. And then you lose the photos you actually want to keep as well, because your upgrade won't recognise them, or you drop your phone in the toilet, or your laptop goes belly-up, or the hard disk (or floppy disk!) you saved them on becomes obsolete.

      So you end up with neither photos NOR memories. Okay, if the world is going to end tomorrow ...it won't matter. But if it's not? Nice to have memories to pass along in written or verbal form. Many of us have pictures of our grandparents, at home, doing things, posing with family and so on, printed out on glossy photo paper made by the older 'development' processes. Will our grandchildren have the same record of our lives to look through? Good chance is no, they won't. Digitalisation is 'easy' in the moment, but it doesn't last. Don't believe me? How many of you can still access files you created 15 years ago, unless you've constantly updated them? Or ...god forbid ...printed them out?

      And as you say, experience is vital to a writer. Maybe that's why so many new writers seem headstrong about describing only what they see, as if the story they're telling is just a series of pictures flashing past—no sense of being there or feeling anything much. Because they weren't, and they didn't.
      Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
      Lifeline likes this.
    8. Lifeline
      Lifeline
      Oh yes, you speak true! Happened to me just a short while ago when I realized that I had not looked at my pictures in months or years.. I started going through all my pictures and sorting, printing the best ones out. I am still not sure what to do with them as by now there are a lot of really good ones :)

      I have never thought about new writers styles as I tend to stick with the ones who are really good (and these ones have mostly being around for a long time), but now that you mentioned it I can see your point. We just have to hope that this mania passes ..
    9. Malcum Powder
      Malcum Powder
      I agree with you on some point of this but I think maybe we should be trying to embrace technology as well as reverting to our good old fashioned senses.
      I have a smart phone but then again I also have 4 kids so they become a bit of a necessity in this life at this time. I take many many (too many?) pictures of my kids and I am terrible for constantly taking videos of them too. But this doesn't mean I am mentally taking notes on the surroundings of that day or the emotions involved I just feel great about having captured their tiny little movements to be viewed back again and again.
      I've watched many documentaries of the stars of this world and a lot of them seem to have cine cam films of them when they were kids. I'm sure not many can remember the film being taken let alone the emotions or smells of the day but I am also sure that the film maker at the time does.
      Saying all this I do dislike it (not a fan of the word hate but it comes close here) when fans at Rock/pop concerts decide to get their phones out and try record their idols performance. Some things should be left for the viewer to soak in.
      So I guess I disagreed at first and now I'm not so sure. You may be right.
    10. Bewitched
      Bewitched
      I'm young and I have a phone...but I'm not a slave to it. I actually didn't take any pictures of the Blood Moon Eclipse because I was too busy looking at it over my balcony. And when I go to concerts and stuff, I might take a selfie or a picture of the stage, but after that I put my phone away and rock out. When I see other people taking long ass videos of the concert, I always think they're being silly, they should just be fully in the moment and enjoy themselves.

      But there is also a flipside to this: I was on the bus one day and I was reading a book of poetry. Then my friend texted me, asking if I could buy Chinese food, so I put my book to the side and texted my friend back, to tell him I'm completely broke, lol. But in the five seconds or so it took me to send that text, someone got on the bus (an older dude in a business suit) and he saw me on my phone and shook his head and said something rude about "young people these days". I ignored him and sent my text, put my phone away, and continued reading. When the guy saw me reading, he frowned and then looked away, like he was too proud to admit that he had misjudged me.

      So you gotta be careful about jumping to conclusions about "young people these days". Sometimes, if you watch someone texting for a while, you will see them put their phones down after their conversation is over and that's that. And other times, when someone is texting for a long time, why does it matter? They're just probably having a really good conversation. And who is to say they text CONSTANTLY? Maybe they don't even text a lot but this conversation is just so good that they're really engrossed in it. I know I never texted until I got a boyfriend and now I text him almost every day (I prefer calling him, but that's not always possible). So...I think I made a point somewhere in there.
    11. jannert
      jannert
      I carry a StupidPhone around with me all the time. However, I keep it turned off unless I'm planning to meet up with somebody and need to be contactable, in case something goes wrong. It's nice to know that I can also phone somebody in an emergency, or phone for a taxi if I need one. However, that's it. I don't want to be phoned all the time, or be pestered constantly by texts. When I'm out, I'm out. I have a landline with an answering machine at home, so I don't usually miss out on anything. I'm on a pay-as-you-go tariff, which is a lot cheaper than a contract for me because I don't use the phone much at all.

      I'm also 66 years old, and remember when we didn't have portable phones. This is a new technology that certainly can be helpful ...although the downside is the fact it's difficult to find a working payphone these days as well. But I'm willing to accept that I like having one, and wouldn't be without one now.

      What I can't deal with is the way some folks seem actively glued to their phones all the time. They are never without one in their hand. I've been traveling back and forth to a distant hospital by bus every day recently (my husband has just had surgery) and can't help but notice how prevalent this behaviour is. And there are the ones who get on the bus while yapping away, and they NEVER SHUT UP the whole time they're on the bus. If they terminate one conversation, they start another one right away—and no, the content of the conversation (which is louder than normal speech, for some reason) is not of the 'important' variety. It's as if they simply can't just sit, look out the window, and daydream.

      And we've all heard the stories of people who have a mental breakdown if they lose their phones. People who have anxiety attacks if they're forced to shut their phones down for an hour or two. This is not good. It's like the difference between having a TV and watching a couple of programmes every now and again, and being unable to think of anything to do with spare time EXCEPT watch TV. Like anything else, personal technology can become a bad habit.

      I think those of us who remember when these devices didn't exist have the best of both worlds. We can enjoy having the extra convenience of them, but we're not dependent on them.
    12. youbana rajthala
      youbana rajthala
      I'm young and I have a phone...but I'm not a slave to it. I actually didn't take any pictures of the Blood Moon. And when I go to concerts and stuff, I might take a selfie or a picture of the stage, but after that I put my phone away. When I see other people taking long ass videos of the concert, I always think they're being silly, they should just be fully in the moment and enjoy themselves. I agree with you on some point of this but I think maybe we should be trying to embrace technology as well as reverting to our good old fashioned senses.
      CanadianVince likes this.
    13. Shadowfax
      Shadowfax
      It's probably 15 years ago, maybe more, that I read a piece of advice from a journalist on a computer magazine...save all your files in Rich Text Format. His logic was that WordPerfect may come and go, Word 1.0 may be updated to Word ∞.0 until your Word files are as relevant as carvings in stone, but RTF is so basic it'll last.
    14. King Arthur
    15. jannert
      jannert
      Well, I bought into that theory as well, until I was just introduced to Pages 11, the wordprocessing programme for Mac that came out on the Yosemite OS and now El Capitain. Guess what? It doesn't recognise RTF.

      I'm so mad I could spit tacks. What the hell are they playing at?

      I can no longer export my work to Kindle, because while Kindle recognises WORD for Mac, the WORD programme doesn't transfer any italic or bold text to Kindle. So all the italics I've included in my MS doesn't transfer.

      Trust me. The only way to future proof your files is print them out on paper. And make sure your ink won't immediately start to fade.

      This is crap. At some point, developers need to remember who they are developing FOR.
    16. BoxNick
      BoxNick
      I completely agree Justin. I think a lot of people these days are only experiencing the world through their phone. Which is why I try to use mine as little as possible. In fact I only use mine to make calls. Yet every where I look when I'm out people are staring at their tiny little screen living in their own little bubble. I doubt anyone will leave their house in 10 years time.
    17. CanadianVince
      CanadianVince
      I agree with you, I also watched the blood moon and didn't snap one photo, in fact my phone was inside! I don't do things in life to show other people, I do them to enjoy myself.
    18. CanadianVince
      CanadianVince
      I'm not sure why people are so worried or consumed about what others do with their phones and social media? It has always been a mystery to me, like why do you care?
      I do see that everyone has a screen stuck in their face these days, it is a huge change from just 15 years ago, but it doesn't bother me, I happen to think it is kind of funny! I have seen more then one person run into something while walking with their phone in their line of site, it's great! lol
      I personally think this phone and internet movement is benefiting me, I no longer pay a phone bill because of wifi everywhere and I can talk through emails and keep in touch with everyone easy, and if I need to talk there are apps for free talk and text!! Cool! Those apps even keep messages and texts when you are offline, so great, for me anyway.
      People are people, some people like me like to share my life with a select few, some people have facebook and show everything to the world, I don't understand that, but it's their life man! I know there are private settings and stuff to protect people that want privacy, but you can follow someone from home based on their tweets and postings, I think that is creepy and that's why I don't do it.
      I do disagree with people missing out on things just because of taking video or snapping pictures, they are just doing what they do, and they would probably say it's how they get the most out of the event they are photographing or taping?

      CanadianVince
      p.s. This was not meant to slam the article or the writer in any way, it's just my opinion.
      Erik-the-Enchanter! likes this.
    19. HelloImRex
      HelloImRex
      Yeah, I don't think technology diminishes experience. It's a cool concept to mull over but there really isn't any substance to it. If anything, phone's are great because you get to see other people's experiences that you would never have a chance of observing otherwise. You talk about seeing 9/11 on a TV, how is that any different than if you saw it on a phone? You experienced pixels, not the real actual light bouncing off the buildings at the time. But it still made you feel something just as deep as if it had been real. Well, maybe not, it's hard to tell, but it certainly allowed you to experience it more personally than if you had just heard about it without the imagery. If I wanted to be a real annoyance I could ask if the cameraman who filmed 9/11 transpiring had a diminished experience because he took pictures of it- but I won't do that. I highly doubt the amount of time spent on the phone inversely correlates to how well people are able to remember and convey their experiences. Sure, there's an upper limit somewhere, but you really have to have your life saturated in your mobile device at that point. A quick picture and text every few minutes isn't going to do it. I will say it was a heartfelt article and you presented it as opinion so there's nothing wrong with it outside of the fact I disagree.
      Nicoel and Ayn G like this.

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