As the semester draws to a tumultuous close, I’m looking ahead longingly at the month-long break of winter vacation and thinking about how to spend it. Of course, it’s not really a vacation. There are still book reviews to write, submissions to be made, a syllabus to write, and a book chapter deadline to meet, among the various personal obligations that accumulate throughout the semester. But it is a vacation insofar as I get to spend a lot more time working on writing projects as opposed to classes (both as a student and as a teacher).
Thus, as I look ahead longingly, I’m thinking about what things I’m not doing now that I want to do then and what things I’m doing now that I don’t want to do then. The former includes decisions between academic essays versus nonacademic prose, short-form versus long-form, revisions versus new writing, etc. Ultimately it will come down to what projects I’m most motivated to work on at that time, but it’s still nice to speculate.
The latter question, though, that’s the one I’ve really been turning over in my head. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve had a lot of struggles with controlling the time I spend playing video games. I’ve tuned it way down since starting grad school. What helped was not playing as many “endless” games (MMOs, PVP-oriented games, ARPGs, etc.) and, to be honest, having a lot of my video game friends stop playing and leaving me with fewer people to play with. Plus, I can justify some of my playing since I write about video games occasionally, so that’s no longer an issue.
That means I’ve turned my sights to my other modes of procrastination, namely social media/networks. Reddit is already fading from my life on its own: the racism/sexism is just too much, unless you stay confined to tiny subreddits, but even then it’s become embarrassing to talk about the site with anyone else because of how bad most of it is. Twitter and this blog feel important, as they should, in theory, contribute to my persona as someone who writes and researches. They also don’t take up much of my time (as is obvious by my infrequent entries here). Neither does Instagram, which I just use for personal fun.
Facebook, though, Facebook can eat some time. It’s become way too easy for me to jump from Facebook to articles and videos and god knows what else. It’s also just way too easy for me to procrastinate by opening a chat window with a friend or family member. On one hand, this keeps me in touch with people better than I probably would on my own. On the other hand, it also has this kind of relationship equivalent to slacktivism, where these tiny bursts of communication stop me from sending out meaningful missives or having a real voice conversation with people.
So I’m thinking about deactivating my account for winter break, to turn off that source of procrastination. We’ll see what happens, where that goes. I would like to add a caveat though, that there is one function of Facebook that I just love. Debra Monroe, in her latest memoir My Unsentimental Education, has this great line about how in reality, people disappear from our lives, and that’s tricky to write about in memoirs because characters in books shouldn’t just disappear. Facebook has stopped some of those complete disappearances from happening, for me. Maybe it’s just a voyeuristic thrill, but I love the occasional reminders that people who were once important to me but have drifted away due to the movements of time and space are still out there, are still doing okay. It’s really satisfying and one of the reasons I would probably never consider a permanent separation with Facebook.
I still need to send more letters, though.
Jason Segel’s interview on WTF has been my favorite aural experience recently.
Lincoln Michel has a nice compilation of thoughts on getting published in lit mags over at Buzzfeed. Probably nothing new there for most people, but a nice centralized repository of concepts.
Speaking of procrastination, I got kind of fascinated with Graham’s Magazine recently. Someone buy me an original copy or three.