The off-line monastery

Here on the East Coast USA, we all entered the off-line monastery yesterday, when a massive cyber attack struck in a distressingly quiet way, and we simply could not make our way around much of the Internet. In the past, people would enter monasteries or cloisters to retreat from the world, albeit willingly. But yesterday we were forced into the wasteland it by a malicious hacker. Other than a few missed clicks for my Kindle Scout campaign, it didn’t affect me in any profound way. But if you were a writer trying to launch a new book or big marketing push, it was not a good thing at all.

Oddly, I spent all of yesterday at a really splendid academic seminar on the Irish Rebellion, watching an attack of a different nature and era through grainy film footage of 1916 Dublin, interpreted through art and music and drama, and connecting with some terrific real-life people.  And I had, coincidentally, been thinking of my recent retreat in New York State, which was an cyber retreat as well, as our guesthouse had no Internet access. No TV or radio. I was having issues with my smartphone as well, so I was really cut off.  The first day was quite unsettling, when I found myself unable to satisfy my daily habit of checking my stats on both blog and books, or read the news in bed in the morning, or check the weather before a big hike. And I hadn’t realized how dependent I had become on the Net for simply diverting or soothing myself at various moments during day, and especially before going to sleep at night, checking Facebook or window-shopping at various sites, or even reading though not-entirely-trustworthy Wikipedia sites. But I didn’t go crazy; I gradually got used to it. By the end of the week, I was just fine with it, and, I might add, writing up a storm.

Which is why you need to develop your non-Internet social skills and personality, to survive what are likely to be continuing disruptions to our electronic web.  Once everything seemed back up, I was able to read an article in the Washington Post in which a woman boasted that her only real friends were on the Internet. I can only hope they remain her friends, as the Internet continues to falter and come under attack, which is likely to happen more and more in the future.


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