Disrupting Disruptive Technology

I love technology.

I hate technology.

If this blog is late posting today, it’s because yesterday the cable service to the office and my house experienced technical difficulty. The difficulty is an “area outage” which is code for “something really important broke and we don’t have a spare part for that because they really don’t break that often and until we can get one in here, you and a whole slew of other people and businesses have an area outage.”

But only some of the time. For some things. I can send small emails and use Skype. But I can’t send emails with attachments or load webpages. (i.e. go online to post my blog)

My whole life depends on my connection to the internet, to the outside world. Why does that connection always break at the worst possible time? Or is that just my perception because there is always a deadline drumming its fingers with me two steps ahead of its snapping jaws? Is it that there are always requests that need immediate response, research to be done, trades to be read, etc.? The “next thing” always seems to require the use of the internet in some way.

Is the technology that makes us so much more efficient, so much more informed, also the taskmaster that digs holes and buries us? Does the internet and our availability to others through the wonders of electronic communication increase the expectations of others and put extra pressure on the “communication transaction?”

Lately, I’ve wondered if I must rethink my loyalties. My loyalty isn’t to my inbox. Just because someone can reach my inbox doesn’t mean I owe them a response. Recently someone, who I rejected with a lovely letter containing feedback regarding the project’s problems, responded to the rejection with a request practically begging me to reconsider and tell them what they could do to get me to change my mind. I stared at the email for several minutes before hitting delete. I’d already told them, in plain English, what the problems were and given them a decision. I didn’t owe them another response.   (No, it’s not a writing team, but “them” hides the gender.)

Nor do I owe a response to aspiring writers who want quick, free email advice and know how to find my contact info on my website. “Hello. I’m a young writer you don’t know, and I want to know how to get published. Can you help me? Because I really don’t want to do the work and the research or even try to find a local writing group.”

As much as it pains me, bothers me, and disappoints me…I am now deleting when I have deadlines and other responsibilities that need my attention or don’t have that three minutes (usually more like five minutes because I can’t answer and not “answer.”). Each time I’ll hit delete faster, hopefully with less guilt. I am no longer a slave to my inbox.

I’m putting my foot down. I work the technology; it does not work me. Delete is a perfectly acceptable solution to unsolicited communication that expects me to focus on it instead of those to whom I have responsibilities or real personal connections. “No” is a complete sentence.

Now I just have to stick to my guns before my polite Southern roots betray me again, whispering that I’m a bad person.

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27 Responses to Disrupting Disruptive Technology

  1. Kylie Brant says:

    I’m on several list serves and am used to deleting without reading, much less commenting. But it’s a little tougher to not reply on my author email. My decision to do so usually has more to do with the fact that I’m tired, crabby or currently overwhelmed 🙂

    • debradixon says:

      It is tougher to not reply to the Dixon website emails. If it’s real business or fan mail, I absolutely reply but the requests for bookmarks and advice and free books, etc. I’m just drawing a line in the sand. The ebook version of GMC is coming out in April and I hope that it will be speedily adopted to many ereaders, but that also means the “not really spam but not personal/real business” is going to go up. I’m practicing. (g)

    • Willa says:

      *Waves to Ms Brant and curtsies* too frightened to email you now 😀 Any news on the new Circle books? *Doffs hat and scarpers*

      • Kylie Brant says:

        Oh, Willa, I don’t mean email from readers like you! Mostly those who are trying to sell me something or want me to send them my first born, sans SASE and postage. (Although there are days I’d consider that, too ) Still aiming late May for Chasing Evil. Hope the cover God (calling him a deity might make him work faster!) has something for me to show soon!

      • Willa says:

        If your firstborn is a son – I’ll take him! 😀

        Got any little hints of what the story is about *looks coy and crafty!*

      • debradixon says:

        Hey people who email about next books are GOLDEN and never get deleted!!

      • Willa says:

        This Golden fan has just stumbled over an interview you did with Kiss and Thrill which ansers my questions. . .

        WoW – the trilogy sounds wonderful! 😀 Pencils it in for May.

        oh – and I know you have 4 boys now too (was in interview) so pick one and send him over 😀

  2. michelehauf says:

    I am in awe of your ‘delete’ skills! It is weird how quickly we have become so reliant on the interwebs and the ‘connection’, isn’t it? Can any of us imagine going back twenty years? Would we want to?

    • debradixon says:

      I can’t imagine going back 20 years. I can’t function without what computers do for me, for my business, for my family. Just my niece sharing pics of my great niece almost daily as she grows or the two minute videos makes such a difference when you have long-distance family. My small (20 people) personal Facebook account keeps up with family in an amazing way. The connection to those we know and love is great. But I’m getting to where I hate the pressure to respond or engage with folks I barely know. So, I hope I continue to deserve your awe for the delete. We’ll see if I cave soon or not.

  3. Kathleen O says:

    I use my “Delete” button a lot…. And after having nearly three months without a computer when my crashed.. It taught me a few valuable lessons… Make sure you have a back up means of technology communications…

    • debradixon says:

      Kathleen ! Oh! 3 months? Yikes. We do have daily backups of the systems at the office. And I’m “pretty good” about the backups of software and data at home, but not as good as I am at the office. The home technology could probably use some attention. And we have an iPad with a separate data plan and separate carrier at the office. I was going to have to resort to using it if I couldn’t manage to upload this morning.

      Truth be told, I’m a desktop or laptop girl when it comes to work. IPad’s are okay for play (for me) but I’ve just never found them productive for work. Maybe because I don’t use the iPad much for anything more than point and click surfing or to view our ebooks.

  4. bellwriter says:

    Love it. In addition to teaching, Goal, Motivation and Conflict, I’d try to sign you up to teach a class on How to Unplug from Technology, and that you own Technology, etc. but you’re not answering emails 🙂 Great post, thanks for the reminder. Good luck with that “no guilt” thing.

  5. Teresa Hill says:

    By chance, just read this yesterday on the ZenHabits website. (Love the ZenHabits guy). He’s a dedicated minimalist, even when it comes to e-mail. His e-mail habits: http://zenhabits.net/e/

    • debradixon says:

      T– No! I didn’t see that. Awesome. I’m a huge proponent of “touch it once.” So I try not to even open the email until I’m ready to process it. Like if Apple Legal is responding to the newest contract negotiation. I wait until I can open and devote more than a minute to it. Great link. Thanks!

    • debradixon says:

      I hadn’t seen that website before but I like him! So I bookmarked it for later.

  6. Oh, Deb, you hit me right where I’m squirming these days, and it ain’t the fun kind of squirming. I was raised by a Southern lady, a veritable Steel Magnolia. I know the drill. The thing is, she knew how to say no, but I think it was in a code that other polite Southerners understood. But that was then, and this is now. There’s the teacher in me who loves questions, loves to discuss and all like that and who needs to get it through her head that there is a time and a place, and the place for teaching is the classroom, the time has to be determined on my terms. Otherwise the writer part of me will suffocate.

    As for technology, aaaarrrrrgh!

    • debradixon says:

      Kathleen– “the time has to be determined on my terms. ” Oh! This I love. I’m going to tattoo it next to the guilt on my shoulder. I did do an informal survey of my email habits for about a week and looked at my “send” folder for responses that weren’t to core relationships. That was fairly revealing.

  7. leannebanks says:

    Good for you Debra! I need to hit that delete button FAR more often!!!

    • debradixon says:

      It’s hard, but I’m trying to recognize that I don’t owe everyone an immediate response or even a response. Hold the attaboys until we know if I can keep doing this. (g)

  8. Willa says:

    This is really interesting 😀

    I do find it amazing that people solicit for writerly advice/hand holding/manuscript reading/I-may-have-to-pull-my-finger-and-do-something emails!

    OR you could employ me to sabotage your mail with officious replies 😀 You can pay me in books 😀

    • debradixon says:

      We love the ones from fans or readers checking on the next or suggesting we write a sequel, but you really would be surprised at the strangers who think you’re going to drop everything to help them. Craziness! They’ve never met you at a workshop, never read your book and yet they feel incredibly close to you. (g)

  9. Quilt Lady says:

    I do a pretty good job with that delete button myself and I am not a writer.

  10. roxrustand says:

    I am so glad to hear that GMC will soon be out as an e-book! I’ve bought a number of copies as gifts. It’s an amazing resource that everyone should own if they want to be a writer.

    I can only imagine the sort of entitled emails you receive—people demanding your time and attention. Bravo to you for holding your ground with the press of a delete key!

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