I used to be Extremely Online. I knew all the latest memes and hashtags, all the news and drama and characters-of-the-day. If you texted me "hey, have you seen…," chances were that, yes, I already had.
Now I am as offline as possible. I've deleted Twitter from my phone. I haven't looked at my RSS feeds in months. (I do still check Instagram, I confess. Instagram doesn't enrage me as I follow mostly friends, their dogs, and a handful of cooking and birding accounts.) Kin had to explain the whole ship-stuck-in-the-Suez-Canal thing to me. I had no idea.
But I was tired of the daily cycles of outrage that social media spun me through. So I have stepped away.
I was reminded, in early January, when the Today in Tabs newsletter reappeared from its years-long hiatus, that so much of what demands our attention online and stirs us up into fury is just exquisitely stupid. (Bless Rusty Foster's heart for chronicling it all though.) Of course, there are plenty of things we are absolutely right to be mad about — there's far too much injustice in the world. And I know, I know, the Suez Canal thing was important — supply chains and all that. But I really can't stomach anymore of the daily social media hullaballoo. It does nothing for me.
Nor, if I am perfectly honest, can I stomach the onslaught of awfulness that comes from ed-tech. And I'm too exhausted to continue to be the weapon that folks invoke for their particular ed-tech battles. That's not great, I realize, as ingesting all the ed-tech awfulness and spitting back out some sort of analysis has been my job for the last decade. Needless to say, Hack Education has gone dormant.
I'm at a bit of a loss as to what I should do now or next.
Ostensibly I am working on another book. But the publication of Teaching Machines — along with life in general — has zapped much of my enthusiasm for writing. I am not sure I have anything to say anymore — nothing that would make a bit of difference. It's not that I don't care. It's that I have cared too much.
Teaching Machines will be out in August, so I'm told. (Pre-order.) There's still no cover and as such, I haven't done anything to promote it (other than drop that link right there, I suppose). Digital copies are in some people's hands, but I reckon most folks will frown at what I have written. Or politely ignore it. I'll throw myself into the task of promotion once there's a cover, I tell myself. But galleys aren't a book. And none of this feels real.
None of this.
This is too depressing an update, I suppose. It's not communicating all that accurately how I'm really doing. And I don't want sympathy or pity. I'm tired of that too. (I might, however, be looking for an agent. Or perhaps a job.)
I have spent the last few months trying to get my health — my physical and mental health — back on track. The pandemic. The death of my son. The isolation. The Internet. Trump. It has all taken it's toll. And you should know, if you're worried: I'm doing well enough (although I dread the one year anniversary of Isaiah's passing (in May), the one year anniversary of when I last saw him alive (next week)). I've quit drinking — I'm 90 days sober today. Kin and I walk 4.2 miles every morning. I eat more leafy greens and fiber and less red meat. I do yoga every day. I lift the few weights I was able to purchase during the lockdown, and I can actually do planks and push-ups. My anemia is gone, and the underlying medical condition that caused it — thank you, pharmaceuticals — seems to be under control.
I am learning to meditate, something that I find incredibly hard. To sit and be and not stew in my thoughts — my mind hates it, but tough shit, I tell myself. (I am still wildly ambivalent about "mindfulness.") Working out, I find, is also quite meditative. It's more "doing" than "being," I realize. But I'm fully present in my body and not thinking about much more than tucking my tail or pulling my navel in or counting how many more times I need to push this damn dumbbell over my head. I tell myself I'm no longer so full of tension and rage. And then I tell myself to unclench my jaw and lower my shoulders away from my ears. Cooking is meditative too. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, as I am less anxious and grief-stricken when I'm chopping and stirring. Exercising and cooking are quite methodical: follow these steps and things'll turn out fine.
The outcomes are never fully under my control, of course. But these activities feel much more so than any other part of my life or the world around me. And I'm working on letting the rest of it go.