TypewriterOS

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

While I was snuggling with Julie dog and contemplating, among other things, first the slow and inevitable demise that the United States and civilization as a whole are currently suffering, and then the things I could do to both prevent and escape it, it came to my mind again that not only my existence but the lives of just about every other citizen of all first world countries (and in some cases second and third world countries) are constantly being bombarded with information– “a whirlwind of words and opinions”– a significant portion of which is acrid and toxic, of course, but the bulk of this information is simply asphyxiating due to its overwhelming and useless nature.

Do you not agree? Think about how much time you spend online now versus how long you spent online even just five years ago. Now, spending time using any sort of computer (I’m including mobile devices right down to your crummy prepaid phones) isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But how necessary was it to read that funny meme about how stupid Twilight is? You already knew that anyway. How necessary was it for you to tell all of your 873 “friends” that you just had a delicious Jamba Juice (which isn’t even a juice at all when you think about it) and how wonderful your boyfriend is? Or how much you hate your ex-boyfriend, depending on your situation? How necessary was it to watch that YouTube video you found on a blog post that was linked from another blog post that was linked from the Facebook page or Twitter account of one of the friends of one of the friends of the person you were stalking online? Now throw other priorities such as the education you’re pursuing or the wife you have or the fourth child that was just born to you or the dream you’ve been dreaming about for years but are still no closer to achieving now than you were when it first sparked in your mind? How necessary really is all of this surfing and posting and texting and Facebooking and Googling and Youtubing and Tweeting and just plain consuming? It all has its place– I’m more an advocate of online media than you might think (I put a significant effort and money into keeping a blog, for heaven’s sake)– but has it taken the place of other, more significant ideals? I think for most of us, including myself, it has. Just like the past six thousand years, wars will be fought, politics will be kept secret while what we now call the “media” covers it up, tyrants will take power and be supplanted by inspired people like the Founding Fathers we have all but forgotten except in name only, friends and family will live and grow and marry and propagate and be happy and be sad and die, and everything else will go on the way it has gone since humankind arrived in this alien place. However, with all of the tools we have been given the past two centuries– tools both intellectual and technological– one would think we would have advanced more as individuals and as a civilization. It seems to me that most dreams are getting deferred, and not because people don’t have the opportunity or the tools to achieve them; no, we have more opportunity and available tools in the 21st century to become exactly who and what we want to become than any other time before us, and who and what we want to become can be greater than any the lives of our forefathers who built up this world specifically so that we could live to be greater than they were.We’re all drowning in this bombardment of the exchange of information to some extent. What have we done with this opportunity that cost so much for people who are long gone, some of whom sacrificed more than just their lives for us to have it knowing they never would enjoy what we do?

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

-T.S. Eliot

With these thoughts floating through my mind, it suddenly came to me. While among the nerdiest of the technology nerds, and while I start to drool while looking at pictures of  an AMD FX-8150 as much as the next nerd, I appreciate the fact that I am easily distracted from the important things in life, and I enjoy the silence of a quiet book perhaps even more and certainly more deeply than I enjoy the quiet whirring of my somewhat powerful and certainly glowy-blue desktop machine, though it is easier to focus on that glowy-blue machine than it is the voice of silence.

“I need an operating system that completely roots out all distractions,” I thought. “I need to be able to focus, like when I use a typewriter because there are no distractions. I need an operating system that is purely a word processor. I need a TypewriterOS.”

Now, I would rather be an author than an IT tech. IT is a hobby and writing is a passion, yet I am easily distracted by what my IT offers me, so you can understand my desire for an operating system that would remove all distractions that keep me so often from writing.

And so the idea was born. I was almost certain that I was the only person to have thought of this, but it appears that there have been one or two other folks among my caliber of technorati who have had the same feelings, at least who have expressed it on forums available to the Google search.

While it would actually be relatively easy to compile a version of Linux into a very simple and lightweight operating system with only a full-screen word processor available, I personally don’t have the time to put into such a project, so if you are a Linux developer who is intrigued by this idea, I beg of you to run with it and only link back to this page when you’re finished with TypewriterOS.

Still, the best control is self control– isn’t that what they say? It’s better to have all of the options in the world available to you and then to choose the right one rather than have your choices limited, I think, because then you have exercised your self-will in a proper way, and you will be empowered because of it so that you can make even harder decisions later. Making the right choice simply because it’s all you’ve got to do will never grow your soul.

In other words, God isn’t God because He is incapable of sin; rather He is more capable and has more options of doing more terrible and evil things than any other being in the universe, but He chooses to use that power only for good and in the highest and noblest way. That’s what makes Him God. That’s part of where His power comes from, having so much to choose from but only choosing the best of what He has.

So perhaps we ought to exercise what power we’ve been given and, with what options we have, choose the very best priorities and the very noblest tasks, even though it is for some reason fun to propagate that ridiculous meme about Disney princesses? For it is usually not the decision between right and wrong that many people have trouble with. It is the decision between good and better and best, or rather the decision between harmless and noble.  It is not in the rare, massive, and hard decisions that character is shaped, but actually in the small and everyday ones. The way we spend our time making the small decisions will directly influence what we do when we are faced with the massive, life-altering ones. Through that logic we find that the small and every day and especially repetitive decisions are truly the life-altering ones.

So… maybe I’ll think twice about following that link to read more about how evil Emper–ahem– President Obama is. And maybe you’ll have stopped reading this article long ago and gone to conquer the enemy of all truth and righteousness by finally starting to fulfill your dream of becoming an author or a photographer or having a degree in adventure education or organ playing or typewriter mechanics– or even becoming a mailman, if that’s what it is. Just remember that achieving one’s dreams isn’t as easy or as fun as surfing the net or playing video games, but it is certainly more fulfilling and gratifying. Or maybe you’ll simply go spend time with your children or spend a quiet hour in the woods. I certainly hope you shut down your blessed yet blasted device and do that. You’ll find you can breathe easier if you do. I know I have. And when you have to get back to work, as we all do, try utilizing your own kind of TypewriterOS, whether you literally choose to lock yourself out of whatever it is that keeps you from fulfilling your potential or whether you grow the self-control to just do it.

Do It-- NOW