I remember hearing about Freewrite, a distraction-free writing tool. It looks like a 2000s gameboy with a screen that doesn’t look like a screen, a vintage-looking modern spin-off of a typewriter. The latest model came out this year, I believe. They come at $500-$600 apiece.
Writing on my laptop is easy. Typing is fast, vocabulary definitions appear as soon as I need them, and distraction is one click away. I didn’t realize just how much clicking away I was doing until I blocked all but my writing sites during my session. The number of times I was tempted to google the thing I was talking about (re: Freewrite) is insane. The amount of times I let myself sneakily google that thing with the incognito window is embarrassing. My attention span is fickle at best.
We have created tools that are so good at everything that it’s harming us. We now have tools to counter those harmful effects that we created, whether it’s as drastic as Freewrite or as simple as a Chrome extension to block websites. We are innovating solutions based on problems that we created for ourselves. We’re in a rat race against ourselves.
But hey, innovation—right?
When you stop multitasking, you realize how much stimulation your brain craves. How fidgety you are because your fingers aren’t swiping. How hard it is to just sit there and stare blankly at the wall, because gosh, when was the last time you had time to do that?
I can accept that you recognize the flaw in our inventions yet refuse to do anything about it. Most don’t. But I can’t accept the denial that modern age multitasking is more detrimental than good. These devices have been masked as an all-in-one tool to both increase our efficiency and completely consume our minds.
But as much as I love to glorify the times before devices were a household good, I know that the solution is not to backtrack our steps. Innovation is inevitable, and our lives are fundamentally better because of it.
My day job involves working at a screen, neck strained, for hours a day. My hobbies are now moving digital, always involving a digital device of some sort. I love my life. But however amazing the experiences are on-screen, I want my devices to remain as they are: tools to help me achieve my goals.
My grandparents don’t use technology. My parents don’t have social media. I used to think they were missing out; now, I wonder who was the fool.