Turn Off The Clackers And Try Reality

Jan 1, 2017

Shortly after the election, my friend Kevin sent me an article from the Huffington Post by John Trowbridge, a comedy writer who took on the topic of the 3D world versus the 2D world of what I’ve come to call “clackers.” A “clacker” is any device the user clicks or clacks with, like this keyboard I’m using to write these words. 

For hours I dragged stuff to the burn pile, not stopping for food or to answer the phone which I could hear ringing off and on in the house.

Also included in the clacker category, my slider phone used to text my sister why it’s too late to rename her 15-year-old “Trenton,” and my clacker used to enter into the world of Netflix when I want to while away an evening in yet another story about a “brilliant” detective whose husband is the murderer. I mean, how brilliant could she be if her husband turns out to be the serial killer she’s been tracking through eight episodes? I hate this detective, yet I lose another hour of my life to watching her act brilliantly as she self-destructs. Who is the brilliant one in this scenario, I ask? Don’t answer that, I already know.

Which brings me to Kevin’s point. He knew I was pretty undone the day after the election because I called him to talk me off the ledge. “The ledge” in this metaphor is the psychological one many in America were perched on, too distraught to think clearly and yet there we were, stuck on this ledge together with no discernible way move off. Kevin was still in bed, late in the morning, so he wasn’t very helpful. He was trying to sleep his way off the ledge while I contemplated the real burn pile in my backyard I was about to torch. Neither of us could make sense of the election and had little words of comfort for each other. I decided at that point to put the clacker on the charger and search for the gas can to coax the burn piles into conflagrations.

I was done with clackers; the internet stayed off all day and I concentrated on burning every pile of organic detritus in my yard. The day was beautiful, clear, cold and sunny, a direct contrast to my mood which was a cloudy, dark mess. For hours I dragged stuff to the burn pile, not stopping for food or to answer the phone which I could hear ringing off and on in the house. I did not look at my computer once, nor the tablet I use because I hate the small screens of the smart phone. I, like so many others around this country, was in a dark place--kind of like the brilliant detective when the clues start to point at her equally brilliant husband. How exactly to proceed?

John Trowbridge must have been in a dark place when he wrote his article because he and I—and I’m sure millions of others—did what we had to do to regain a sense of peace which was turn to off the clackers of the 2D world and fully immerse ourselves in the glorious 3D world; a world of animals, fire, people, food and nature. It wasn’t something we read on Faceclack that told us to do this, we did this because every fiber of our humanness demanded it, from the bottom of our clouded, dark souls.

A couple days later I was in the car listening to NPR when a psychologist who was being interviewed offered advice to those of us who found ourselves undone by the election. He suggested we all unplug ourselves for long stretches and reconnect with the real world. He probably suggested long walks on the beach or dinner with friends but I was struck with how something inside of me already figured this out. Without a trip to the doctor. Without cracking Chicken Soup for the Election Bereft Soul. (This is not a real book, but I’m copy-writing the title in case Jack Canfield reads this.)

As the day wound down, I went into the refrigerator and saw two cold beers left over from happier, summer days. I took one out to the bonfire, cracked it open and took a long, grateful swallow. In short order, the entire beer was imbibed so I opened the other one and slowly drank. I watched the flames engulf the fall leaves and the Christmas tree from last year and thought that President Obama said it perfectly. The sun will rise in the morning. It did, it does and we just need to unplug from the clackers to regain what we already know. We have everything we need in our 3 dimensional communities, families and our world. Try connecting to that instead of the internet.

Madeleine DeAndreis-Ayres tilts at windmills and burns things between writing and teaching in Siskiyou County.