Guard Your Mental Space, Part 1

Welcome to Hump Day! Aaaand, some of you just harrumphed.

Wednesday used to be celebrated for the half-way mark to the weekend. While that doesn't hold for writers who can work every day of the week, it was a pleasant milestone in a workweek during the manufacturing age.

Back to the harrumphers. Don't deny you did and I agree, you have a point. What weekend, you ask? My phone, email, etc. never stops. Calls come in from clients or bosses at all hours, including the middle of the night. Emails chime on the laptop or the smartphone with urgent requests or imperious orders.

Yep, that is a problem.

Today, there is no Hump Day. The information age drove a stake into the heart of it. In the 24/7 wired world, we work on weekends, on evenings, and drive ourselves batty with online outrage from social media. Throw in the never-ending news cycle, a drip-drip-drip of negativity in our lives, and it's no wonder people are getting increasingly desperate to regain some control over their lives. Well, not everyone, but that will be a separate blog post.

The information age is maturing. The early gee-whiz phase of computers has evolved from strictly task oriented projects where technology served to accelerate progress to a system of gaining attention. Your attention. For all the money that technology saves in increased productivity, the big bucks are on stealing your attention, your data, and your thoughts.

If you don't think so, look at the tech field. The dominant players are not the hardware manufacturers. They are the companies that produce software that can monetize off the user. For example, Windows 10 from Microsoft is a data-mining scheme built onto a crappy operating system. Google has been busted spying on emails. Think your iPhone is secure? Think again.

In this regard, the social media platforms are more honest. They tell you up front in their Terms of Service that they intend to sell you out.

These are the voluntary areas that we elect to engage in. The involuntary, like work, is equally pernicious in violating our private time. For those who want to blandly state that "well, if you don't like it, quit", I will politely suggest they shove it. Families need to eat and for all the fanfare about employment, finding a new job that doesn't impose on personal time is an exercise fraught with stress and eventual disillusionment.

None of this is healthy. For me as a writer, it is especially damaging. The ideas for writing need to come from a creative mindset that disappears under high stress. My writing becomes unfocused and burdensome when it should be joyful. Under stress, I also indulge in bad health habits like imbibing more adult beverages than I should, or killing an entire bag of potato chips in one fell swoop, or skipping exercise.

The plain fact is that much of this stress, and my reaction to it, is self-inflicted.

This blog series is about guarding your mental space. The problem is, that topic is so vast, I can't do it in one post or at least, not one that can be read in a day. So I'm breaking it down in bite size pieces, one post a week on Hump Day. I'm going to keep them short, so you can read them fast.

The goal here is to change one person's interactions with modern life.


Twelve steps programs are big on an initial affirmation of admittance and powerlessness. I reject the second part of that.

I, Paul Duffau, have an information addiction and, through my choices, let others steal my attention. But I am not powerless. I can -and will - change my choices and guard my mental space from all intruders.

The truth is, none of us are totally powerless. Taking control, though, takes effort and willpower. We all have those - and when we need to, we can lean on each other for a little support.

See you on Hump Day next week. The subject?