Fleeing From Technology To Get Work Done

by Site Author

There’s no better place to procrastinate than the internet. Where else can you watch a movie, read the paper, and chat with friends—all at the same time? When you have something important to do—write a paper, grade exams—internet distractions are hard to resist.

As a result, many people find elaborate ways to escape the internet so they can actually get things done. The writer George R. R. Martin has two computers. One computer is internet-connected, and the other is not. He uses the second computer, an ancient DOS machine, solely for writing.

The comedian Louis CK employs a similar strategy. As he puts it:

When it’s time to write, I have one computer that has no ability to get on the Internet. Because the ability to just move your finger less than a millimeter and be looking [at]… the new Porsche or a whole movie — To Kill a Mockingbird, let’s just sit here and watch the whole thing! — it’s too much. So if you put a couple of moves between you and that, you’ve got a fighting chance. When I hit a stopping moment in what I’m writing, a moment of agitation — that itch always leads to a brand-new thing, to inspiration. But if you bail out and buy a product online, you’re robbing yourself… The worst thing happening to this generation is that they’re taking discomfort away from themselves.

Many others have similarly found a way to escape the Internet. Some write longhand—legal pads offer fewer distractions. Others install an application, “Freedom,” that shuts down a computer’s internet connection for a pre-specified amount of time.

If nothing else, I think it’s remarkable that we all suffer from the same problem. I would have thought that prolific writers—writers like George R. R. Martin and Louis CK—wouldn’t have to grapple with the same distractions that I do. But the quotes above suggest that even they are battling distraction. We all have to struggle to get things done.