Monday, August 10, 2009

blogging burns more calories than watching tv or sleeping

I recently went nearly completely offline for ten full days as I packed and moved from Boston to Indiana, having the unbelievable good fortune along the way to witness the first minutes in the life of my brand new niece, Morgan Brianna DeGeer. During this time, I only found the time and connectivity to publish two blog entries, post four tweets, and enter five Facebook status updates.

Being offline was hard but not impossible, thank god; I halfway expected to suffer from serious irritability and sudden fits of rage and sadness. What I missed most was my daily morning routine of waking up, reaching over to the passenger side of my bed, and grabbing hold of my laptop. This is a routine I'll be glad to get back to.

And I'm not alone, according to a recent New York Times article that describes an increasingly typical A.M. routine:

This is morning in America in the Internet age. After six to eight hours of network deprivation — also known as sleep — people are increasingly waking up and lunging for cellphones and laptops, sometimes even before swinging their legs to the floor and tending to more biologically urgent activities.

Some people--including some interviewed for the NYTimes article--may decry this new trend as unnatural, antisocial, or unhealthy. I can't speak for the experience of others, but for myself, I disagree with this analysis. (And here I risk being part of what another New York Times article calls a potentially problematic anti-print media "drumbeat." "This drumbeat," Michael Sokolove writes in the piece about the faltering of Philadelphia's major newspapers,

a relentless declaration that print is doomed, may be a problem in and of itself, making it easy to cast anyone who wants to save print as a Luddite.)

Perhaps "lunging" for cellphones and laptops before emptying your bladder might be considered unhealthy, but only if you think of the lunging as on par with waking up and reaching for the TV remote. Watching television, after all, is the ultimate passive activity, burning a mere 68 calories an hour (to the 46 calories burned per hour of dead sleep). But for a lot of people, opening a laptop is practically the diametric opposite of turning on the tv: Instead of watching something someone else made, they get to make something for themselves and others, to build something new out of nearly endless buckets of clay that get replenished by the day, the hour, the minute.

In a previous career trajectory, I was a newly minted poet freshly emerged from an M.F.A. program. Most mornings, I woke up early, flipped open a notebook, and wrote. That activity seems to me now to be innately self-contained and self-absorbed, existing as it did in an intentional vacuum. I don't know how many calories blogging burns per hour, but I know it generates both light and heat for me and, I hope, for other people who land here. It's why I haven't yet been swayed by accusations that blogging, tweeting, and working with social networks are a vain, self-centered and self-aggrandizing acts: When leveraged in the most interesting ways, these media platforms become not only the materials molded out of clay but the raw materials from which others may build their own designs.

Oh, and here's a pic of my new niece. I swear she is exactly as gorgeous as this photo suggests.

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