Award-winning novelist and indie bookstore owner Ann Patchett is on a media tour for her first children’s book Lambslide, but when she stopped at ABC’s Strahan & Sara, she described her lifestyle—a lifestyle that might benefit other writers and readers.
On Thursday’s telecast, host Michael Strahan posed the question of the day for the show’s guests and audience in the studio and at home: “Have you ever looked at social media and it’s made you jealous of something or what someone else doing or having?”
Gleaming, Ann—whose best-selling novels include Commonwealth and State of Wonder—seemed like she couldn’t wait to answer the question.
“I’m so glad you asked me this question because I have never once in my life looked at social media. I don’t have a cellphone. I’ve never sent a text. I don’t watch television. I’ve never seen this show.”
What? Though it’s a good idea to watch a TV show you will be on to promote your work, it’s so astonishing that someone well-known doesn’t have a smartphone or social media that Ann added she felt like she was surrounded by smartphone-addicted zombies when in public. Then Michael called her a “unicorn.” A segment for a book with the mention of zombies and unicorns is literary in nature. It even ended with Ann inviting Michael to sell his book, Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Transforming Your Life, at her indie bookstore, Nashville’s Parnassus Books. Authors supporting authors with guaranteed book sales.
A digital detox is defined as a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world. Ann probably uses a computer for writing her novels and submitting them via email and cloud programs to her publisher, but living the partial digital detox life may spark creativity simply based on the time take-back component.
The average American dedicates 30% of leisure time to perusing the web, according to Digital Detox, while 67% of cellphone owners find themselves checking their device even when it’s not ringing or vibrating. The access to this information is deriving from a website, but that’s another philosophical conversation. (What are other ways to get publicity without a digital screen? By pigeon? Or snail mail the press release and pamphlets? Then that contributes to our paper overconsumption…)
How would time away from constant digital consumption affect your writing and reading goals?