Slow Information Movement
A strange thing happened after the oral surgery. Though I’ve never really liked oranges or orange juice or anything orange-y, I started craving clementines. And not just craving clementines–they were the only thing I would eat beyond oatmeal. In one week, we went through three crates of clementines.
An aside: my gum graft comes from donated tissue (imagine my brother saying in the creepiest voice possible over the telephone immediately following surgery: “Missy, you gots yourself a nice pair of corpse gums”) and I’m wondering if my donor loved clementines. It’s really the only explanation I have for this all-out, crazy-ass craving. I literally can’t go more than a few hours without one.
The point–if you sit on your ass and eat 15+ clementines every day for five days running, you will put on weight. Which isn’t really a surprising discovery though it is a sad one because I’ve been subscribing to this idea that Jendeis taught me which essentially boils down your diet to only eating foods your great-grandmother would recognize. No chemicals, no strange food substitutes, no added vitamins. Just straightforward butter and eggs and milk and fruit and vegetables. It just feels like if you’re giving up Cheez-its, you should get rewarded and not a two pound weight gain even if you replace those Cheez-its with 75 clementines.
The idea of the great-grandmother diet is just one of the 64 thoughts put out by food writer, Michael Pollan. Yes, I still have to actually read the whole book rather than letting my sister-cousin and Jendeis summarize his books for me.
Josh had a post recently about feeling blah, and the comment I left after reading his words touches on ideas coming out of the slow food movement.
I think it’s so easy to get caught up in what feels like movement–the constant Twitter stream, the email inbox that fills and empties, the mundane tasks that repeat each day–that when we get a breathing space (for instance, when we don’t have weekend plans and nothing is there to occupy us), we both notice that things have calmed and humans don’t love stagnation AND we realize that all that movement we thought was happening isn’t really happening at all. That we’ve been stagnant all along and just thought we were running a marathon.
Honestly, just like the slow food movement has brought back a different energy to eating, I think we need to create a slow information movement that brings back a different energy to taking in news and thoughts.
Within the slow food movement, the idea isn’t to give up all food to get rid of the negative effects of fast food–that would be crazy. It’s to slow things down. Think about where your food comes from. Eat local. Vary the flavours. Cook together. Sit down to eat it. Elevate food to something to look forward to during the day rather than something shoved into the minutes between something else. You know, in the same way we constantly check our blackberries or leave email up all day rather than sitting down and giving ourselves an uninterrupted hour to read blogs and write a post.
I’m not anti-Twitter or anti-email. I don’t believe in unplugging just for unplugging sake. I’m not impressed when people make declarations that they didn’t check email for three days just to prove a point. I mean, no one applauds when I admit that sometimes I don’t get the mail for a week at a time (come on, who the hell wants to look at bills?).
Just as the answer to the problems with fast food (too much fat and calories; people not socializing while they eat; no clue what is being put in your body or how it came to be) is not to cut out all food, the answer to the problems of feeling blah in the face of the Twitter race for followers, the blog stat checking, the comment counting, the email burnout is not to cut out technology, but to take in information better.
To not spend the entire night aimlessly surfing the Web, but to come to the computer with a to-do list and check off the tasks. To give yourself uninterrupted time to read or write. To sort your emails into answer immediately or get-to-soon and not feel guilty if the get-to-soons don’t get an answer for a few days because non-online life has to happen too.
A few years ago, before the blog was even born, Josh came home from work one day and I told him that I had been researching the concept of sustainability and I wanted to introduce it to all facets of our life. Which meant making the clothes I could make instead of always buying them. Which meant taking the twins to the farm and learning where our food comes from and making everything we can from scratch instead of buying it made. It meant recycling and reusing toys and moderation and library books and trading and borrowing. And for the most part, we have lived this idea of sustainability for years now from recycled garbage art projects to homemade challah on Friday nights.
The place where we haven’t considered sustainability is in our information intake. We take it more information, add more ways to take in information, and do it in a way that is not sustainable in the long run unless we also take burnout into consideration.
I love my blackberry, but it has no place coming out of the holster when I’m with people (nor does yours, Josh, achem). I love my blog, but I need to pace myself with projects and maintenance. I love to read blogs, but I need to make them their own reading period, just as I do books, rather than shove a post into my eyes (oooh, that sounded painful) in between putting the pot on the stove and the water boiling.
It’s not about not partaking in an ongoing ride on the information super highway. But it is about slowing down the vehicle. Not driving at 75 mph all the freakin’ time. You might not be the winner with all the information in your back seat, you may not be the first person to see the story break on Twitter, you may not get to that steaming pile of emails until tomorrow–but there’s a lot of life to also live offline.
Like all things in life, it’s a balance. And I am aware that this sounds funny coming from someone who also preaches “comment more!” and “post more!” But I do think it’s possible to live a full off-line life and a full online life and find the balance that doesn’t make you feel those blahs when you finally unplug for a few hours as we all need to do in order to come to the Web with fresh eyes.