Day 22

Each day is getting harder now.  I only have 8 days left so that’s what I am trying to remember.  I am much more emotional, still feeling a little dizzy and not quite right physically, and noticing that I am really starting to yearn for the physical presence of another person – on the same side of the glass as me.

Some may think that I am not ‘isolated’ because I can still interact with people on the other side of the glass.  It’s true that I can see people and even communicate in short messages back and forth.  From the outside, it’s easy to say it’s not isolating when you can have that. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the glass represents a computer screen and the short communications back and forth represent how we tend to communicate online.  I haven’t been able to have any real meaningful conversations this way, but just seeing people can make me feel better. However, sometimes it can make me feel worse because it’s frustrating and reminds me that I am not able to interact with them face-to-face.  The first thing I do when I see a friend is hug them.  Or at least, that’s what I would normally do and now it’s feels uncomfortable to not be able to.  Almost like it hurts to not be able to.  Especially when I am having a bad day.

I am losing interest in video chatting because well it just isn’t the same and again is a reminder that I can’t be face-to-face.  It has also proven to be a particularly bad way to communicate when trying to clear the air with someone.  The last few days, I have been sending emails and text messages back and forth with one of my closest friends who has done a ton of work on this project for me and Josh – namely this website and hosting our First Friday event among a million other things.  Because emails and text messages can easily be misunderstood, we have not been speaking and tonight we tried to talk on Skype, but it’s really not an easy way to communicate serious emotions.  You know when you are arguing with someone, then there are some tears, then you hug, and then everyone feels better – well it doesn’t work like that on video chatting.  It’s more like, you say a few things, you feel like you are still misunderstood, there is definitely no hugging, and then there’s an awkward goodbye.  That’s why video chatting will never be a replacement for the real thing.  So tonight I am sad that I can’t communicate effectively how I am feeling to someone I respect greatly and appreciate a ton.

Day 21

Sunday is the day of rest so that’s what I tried to do.  Here are a few photos of “the audience” today.

Day 20

Twenty days in, wow, I made it two-thirds of the way without losing my mind.  Now if I can only make it the next 10.  One of the things that I thought would be hard to be in here for is Thanksgiving.  But I have to say, I feel incredibly thankful this year so I don’t mind it a bit that I am I stuck in this box.   Many of you have asked what I will be doing for the holiday.  My original plan was to Skype with family as they sit down for dinner, but now I am secretly hoping that the weather will permit some family and friends to come down with tables and chairs and Skype with me through the glass so we can sort of enjoy the day together.  Either way it will be a good day.

The Oregonian published an article about the project in today’s paper. (Make sure to scroll down to watch the video as well – Josh gives a great interview explaining the project.)  Because of the article, a lot of people came to visit today.  Josh was here too for quite a while interviewing people asking them their thoughts on the project for the documentary. I noticed that there was a good mix of people.  I think pretty much every age bracket came to say hi or quietly observe.  I continue to be amazed at the response and support to the project so thank you to everyone who has taken an interest.

One person that I wasn’t sure would understand this project in the beginning was my dad.  He is now one of my biggest supporters.  Let me explain.  My dad has had a computer for a few years, but with the exception of the last two years he mostly just used it for checking his golf handicap and Googling things.  He has now started to use it more for research to do with work, but I continue to be his tech support.  He is the last person I would ever think would open a facebook account or who spends more then an hour surfing the web each day.  He has made fun of me plenty for being that person who is always texting and checking emails on my phone.

Before this project my dad didn’t have a webcam and had never used Skype.  We usually talk every two weeks on the phone.  Now that we can video chat, he has called me almost every day.  Recently on a video chat, I discovered that my step-mom is really upset with my dad for spending so much time on the computer.  She says that they never talk anymore because when she comes home from work he is on the computer until it’s time to go to bed.  This surprised me, I had no idea he used the computer that much.

A week ago, I asked my dad if he wanted me to help him start a facebook account just so he could see the things I was posting.  I explained that he could delete the account as soon as the project was over.  He said,  “No that’s okay, I don’t want one.”  A few days ago on a video chat, of course, he told me he setup a facebook account on his own purely to ‘look’ at what I am doing. That was less then a week ago.  He is now reconnecting with buddies that live in various states, sending me politically messages, making comments on lots of post, and making good use of the ‘like’ button.  This in a weird way makes me proud that he was able to navigate the tech side, but also makes me really concerned.

I am beginning to think that my dad is addicted to facebook and that I may need to do an intervention when this project is over.  The good news is that we can both go through the withdrawals together. I am sure I am going to need some help unplugging as well.

Day 19

I had an interesting interaction with a friend today.  I was video chatting with him when I noticed he was distracted and typing on his computer.  He said he was Googling the topic we were talking about, but that he was still listening to me.  This lead to a longer discussion.  When talking to someone in video chat much like a phone call, online chatting, or emailing you can communicate with multiple people at once.  So my friend put me to the test to see how well I could manage having two conversations at once.  He started typing a chat to me while we were video chatting.  He challenged me to keep up both conversations.  I failed miserably.  He somehow excelled and even posted something on my twitter and my facebook pages while I was trying to keep up with him.  But for the record, I don’t think any of the communicating we were doing would be considered a conversation.

I have found since I have been in here, my multi-tasking skills are lacking.  I thought that because I wouldn’t be working while I was in here that I would have time to slow down my life and focus on one thing at a time.  I have to multi-task a million things at once for work and I always feel a sense of relief when I job wraps .  I am feeling that way about technology right now.  In order to be really social in the digital world I have been using everything all at once.  I haven’t set parameters, but now I am thinking I should.

In here a lot of what I am multi-tasking is communication with people.  I don’t think that I am doing it that well and I am pretty sure people notice that I am trying to keep up multiple conversations or doing other tasks while communicating with them.  After reading this article about muti-talking and how it effects us, I have decided that for the remainder of the time I am in here, I am going to do my best to only have one conversation at time and only focus on one task at time.  So no more answering text messages while on a video chat calls, no more emailing someone while also posting a status update on facebook, and no more making dinner while doing research – that’s how I end up burning dinner anyway.

Day 18

I am feeling 100% better today then yesterday.  I can actually focus for more then 5 minutes.  I’m not tired and I only feel dizzy occasionally.  Considering that there are glue fumes coming through the vent because the space next door is under construction, I think I am doing pretty well.  Not to worry, more angels from upstairs helped me with the ventilation while I hid in the bathroom again.

Emotionally, I feel great.  I have been invited to a party tonight. The company upstairs, Emma, is having a launch party and they invited me to chat with people via Skype.   I am looking forward to it.  So between that and feeling like my brain is working again I am happy and I was able to think of something else to discuss on the blog outside of how I am feeling…

Do you agree with this or this?  I have to agree with Newsweek, but you can decide for yourself.  The part of the Newsweek article that resonates with me is that facebook makes people who are already lonely feel less connected, not more connected.  It can be a reminder of what they are missing.  They see the inside jokes they are not included in and the parties they are not invited to. The odd thing here is that people may compare themselves to these personas of their ‘friends’ which in reality maybe skewed.

Social media is a way to constantly promote ourselves in way in which we want others to see us.  As someone told me today, “I find the relationship between how interesting one’s life is and how interesting one’s facebook page is to be inversely proportional.”

One of the latest trends is to “check-in” in at various locations. If you aren’t familiar it’s a way to tell people exactly where you are and what you are doing via your GPS location.   I haven’t understood the impulse to this, but many of my friends use it. Why do people have the urge to do this? Is this to communicate with others or to prove to ourselves that we are doing something cool? Am I missing something?

A friend of mine text me the other day to tell me she found comfort in knowing where I am at all times.  She said,  “It’s like social media took the mystery out of everyone in a way. Everyone’s lives are so accessible, but when someone is so visible like you are it’s comforting and then when you are not it’s like the mystery is back and our imagination kicks back in about that person.”

Day 17

As I continue to try and break my habit of the reactive workflow, I am noticing that I can’t seem to focus.  I am making many typos and I’m rereading things multiple times before it sets in.  Yesterday and today I have been feeling tired, dehydrated, and generally a little off.  I can’t really explain it except it’s similar to how you would feel after working a 15-hour workday without leaving your office or after a 10-hour plane ride.  I have been drinking plenty of water, but it doesn’t seem to help. Not until I started feeling dizzy did I start researching what this could be.  And I found this:

If you are breathing in stale air, you might have started to notice some of the following symptoms:

•                Dizziness

•                Nausea

•                Headaches

•                Fatigue and exhaustion

•                Irritability

•                Anxiety

•                Depression

I have experienced all of these with the exception of nausea in the last 48 hours.  So it could be the lack of fresh air or it could be that I am getting a cold.  Maybe my ‘angels from above’ contaminated my grocery delivery?  Is paranoia on the list symptoms too?

As I am feeling all of these things, I am trying to take note how my isolation could be affecting these things too.  I am starting to feel as though I am not able to express myself fully and I am finding it frustrating when I can’t just pickup the phone to call someone that I need to reach immediately. Of course, I would probably just get their voicemail anyway.

Up until this point, I have felt like I have been able to be social and be a part of the outside world. I still feel this way for the most part, but I am noticing is that I miss real moments with people. Video chatting can be awkward because people are so aware of themselves. When you can see yourself in the little square in the corner you can’t help but constantly look at yourself rather then the other person.  It is also difficult to read someone’s body language when you can only see them from the chest up. However, as a friend pointed out tonight, we are quick to hate on technology that has changed our lives in drastic ways.  We can now video chat on our cell phones, but then are quick to complain when the connection doesn’t allow for a perfectly clear picture or perfect audio. So even though I am one of those complainers, I appreciate the ability to connect with people in that way.  Without it, I don’t know if I would have made it 17 days.

I am also thankful for my visitors.  If it weren’t for two special ones today, I might have stayed in bed. Knowing that people are coming to see me makes me get motivated and I am always happier once I see them.

Day 16

Went to bed before 9 PM.  I wasn’t feeling well and was too tired to write a blog.  I could really use some fresh air.

Day 15

The audience experience – this is an area Josh and I haven’t spoken much of, but for me has become the most interesting part of the project.  Some would define an audience as a ‘group of spectators at a public event.’ However, in today’s digital world we no longer have to have this experience in a group or in public.  Today, you can order a movie online, walk out to your mailbox, watch it, and then send it back all without ever seeing another human being.

Josh wanted the audience to come in person to see me rather then steaming video online because he wanted people to be able to experience the project in a traditional, non-digital way.  He thinks we are getting away from this more and more and I agree. You can argue that the invention of the television changed this social behavior years ago, but it seems that today’s technologies are leading us away from this traditional social behavior more and more all the time.

Sure there are plenty of reasons why experiencing things as an audience in your own home is more desirable.  For example, you don’t have listen to that person in the back coughing incessantly throughout the movie and you don’t have to pay $20 for popcorn, but I hope that we don’t get too comfortable at home that we lose the desire to be a part of a ‘group of spectators at a public event.’

I have really enjoyed trying to communicate with people through the windows and I applaud those that have done so in creative ways.  Like the group that did a little synchronized dance and the wave for me while I was recording my video journal a few days ago – luckily I recorded it all.  Look for that in the documentary.

Josh and I see the windows as a representation of a computer screen.  The fact that I am communicating with people in an analog way doesn’t violate the concept of our project.  The Internet experience is very interactive and I think that the windows should allow the audience to be interactive.  Which is why I want to challenge you as the viewers to come up with creative ways to communicate with me during the next two weeks.

Day 14

Today was a lazy Sunday.  I tried to unplug as much as I could.  I woke up and made a tasty breakfast, worked out, and then laid around and read.  I actually read more then 100 pages today.  That’s a first since I have been in here.  I feel like it was the first day that my attention span lasted more then 5 minutes.  I had a few visitors, but for the most part it was a quiet day.  Now I am going to watch an episode of The Wire and call it a night.

Day 13

Almost halfway there, funny it seems like a lot longer then 13 days.  I am now starting to really get a routine.  I have a new friend that stops by almost everyday to ask if I need to be “liberated.”  I have figured out that this was the same guy that pounded on the window the first night I was here.  Another regular is the old guy that taps his cane on my bedroom window every morning at 8:45 to tell me, “it’s time to get up and start your day.”  He does this whether or not I am still actually in bed.  I find it kind of endearing.

I have figured out what I miss the most. Because I am admittedly addicted to the Internet at this point and because I don’t want to spend my days sitting in the same chair all day, I really miss the ability to use my laptop anywhere.  You know say, while sitting on the couch or in bed.  I can’t do this currently because I am not supposed to use the computer unless it’s plugged into the projector.  For those that haven’t been here in person, the image of what is on my computer screen is projected on the gallery wall at all times. Luckily, a friend emailed me the perfect solution.  There is a new gadget that allows me to do this wirelessly.  Sometimes technology is awesome. It’s in the mail and I can’t wait for it to get here.

The longer I am in here, the more plugged in I become.  This makes me feel like an obsessed 17-year-old more and more each day.  Speaking of 17-year-olds that reminds me of a close family friend who did an experiment for a class project.  It was a challenge to see if the class could go 1 week without using their computers or cell phones.  He made it 4 days. He sited the fact that he had college applications due as his excuse for not making it the entire week.  Which could be valid, but still the idea that he can’t make it a whole week a little disturbing.

This sense of dependence is easily seen in adults as well.  There is something about being plugged in all the time. Another friend realized after getting to the airport for a flight that she left her cell phone at the person’s house where she was staying. She almost didn’t get on the flight because the idea of not being without it was unimaginable.  How would she tell her family she arrived at her destination and that she was ready to be picked up?

Which brings me to an interesting question. Why is it that we regulate our children’s use of electronics and the Internet, but we don’t regulate our own.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one.  I know the obvious issue will be that of work.  I get that.  In my job, if I am not reachable 24 hours a day while we are shooting then I don’t have a job, but why do we as a society think it’s okay to expect that of each other?

On a happy note, why today was a good day:

1.  Waking up to a sweet note from friend in the window

2.  Not totally making a fool of myself on national television

3.  A modern day mixed tape from a friend

4.  Red wine

5.  Saturday night visitors

Cristin Norine and Joshua Jay Elliott