Unplugged Summer

The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.
— Albert Einstein

I have a love / hate relationship with social media.  Using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram is like being at a party where thousands of other people are talking, shouting, and cheering simultaneously.  It’s tons of fun, but after a while I need to retreat into the cool quiet darkness of my own thoughts to recover.  I wonder if this reaction differs between extroverts and introverts.  Extroverts tend to get energized by all the interaction on social networks, while introverts, who do enjoy the interaction, nevertheless need to back away at times to recharge their batteries.  At any rate, I like to unplug from social media every so often, and I’m in the middle of one of those periods right now.

I’ve found that these quiet periods tend to be my most creative and productive, almost as if all of the information and inspiration that I’ve cached finally gets a chance to organize itself in my brain and become something real in my shop.  I recommend periodically unplugging to all woodworkers, but I think new woodworkers can benefit the most.  A new woodworker today has a ridiculous number of resources available to learn the craft.  So many, in fact, that it can become overwhelming.  Learning from the internet is kind of like drinking from a firehose:  you get what you were looking for, but if you partake for too long, your eyeballs get driven into the back of your skull.  A more effective method is to gather information, and then unplug and put those new skills to work in the shop.

Internet content producers should unplug sometimes, also, just like everyone else.  Getting away from the online community, even for just a short time, helps to remind you why you started woodworking in the first place.  It wasn’t always about increasing follower counts, sponsors, likes, or re-tweets.  At one point, it was just you, alone in your shop, building things.  It’s nice to re-center yourself on that fact every once in a while. 

Summer is short here in the northern states, and while I may or may not be sitting in a lawn chair right now, soaking my feet in a kiddie pool, wearing sunblock on my nose and an umbrella hat, I’m not sitting idle.  My project list continues to grow and the priorities of those projects continue to change.  I’ll be starting construction on a side table in the next few days, I’m in the design phase on a coffee table, a small chest of drawers is lurking in the background, and I’m stealing time for my new tool cabinet any chance I get.  Unplugging isn’t a vacation… it’s a time to refocus.  But the siren song of podcasts, blog posts, memes, and funny cat videos grows ever louder; I think I’ll be plugging back in soon.