Man, Unplugged

manBran says:

No, I’m not talking about some pour-your-heart-out, acoustics-only special on MTV. I’m talking about that tipping point in a person’s life where they’re so jacked into the Matrix, it becomes difficult to tell fantasy from the real thing.

In a world filled with iPhone this and Android that, there comes a time in a man’s life where he must educate–and re-educate–himself on the very things that made him great in the first place. There are people who swear they wouldn’t survive without a GPS or Wi-Fi signal, but I ask them: “How do you think your ancestors survived, huh?

I’m saying that we should all revert back to the Stone Age, no. I’m merely suggesting we stop and smell the roses, you know? We should take time and effort to hold on to some the most fundamental skills that helped make the man great and the world we live in even greater. Here’s how:

– Write a letter.

Not an e-mail, text message or tweet, no. Write a letter, to yourself, a colleague, family member, significant other or a complete stranger. It pains me to see what the technology age has done to the D’Nealian style of handwriting. Accomplished professionals now have the penmanship of four-year-olds. Take some time, once a month, to write a letter and hone your fine motor skills back to their once-pristine status. You’ll be surprised how much of a boost in self-confidence it will give you. Plus, it’s a great excuse to buy that $250 fountain pen set.

– Take a hike.

Let’s face it: you’re either pasty and pale, sick, tired or just downright crotchety. You want to know why? You spend too much time indoors. You’re indoors at work, even if you work at home, you probably spend most of your time in the house. A vacation for you in a sunny spot somewhere on the beach is less probable than successful time travel, but that’s okay. You don’t need to take days off to get your daily dose of the outdoors. Man was meant to be one with nature every once in a while. Take a walk through a nearby nature trail, eat outside every chance you get, ride a bike with your children/spouse/friends, etc. Whatever you do, be sure to take a deep breath and be glad that you’re alive and better off than your desk jockey cohorts.

– Interact!

Glued to your IM screen much? I know it’s a busy, busy world out there, but there is so much to be had, I promise you. Instead of sending a “Hello!” text to your friend down the street, stop by his or her house instead. Granted, they’ll be just as freaked out by it as you will undoubtedly be, but that’s the beauty of it. You two can support each other as you reconnect on a level that you may have though was long lost. Greet that stranger at supermarket, start up a conversation with that person at the bar (man or woman)! Not only could you meet a potential best friend, you’ll get a whole new perspective on how the other half lives in this big, blue marble we call “Earth”.

Brian Wilder is a writer for Home Ec 101. You can also find him at Things My Grandfather Taught Me.
If you have a question you’d like Brian to answer send it to


  1. @JayMonster on February 21, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    I'll be perfectly happy when they stop bothering with "script" in school and spend more time on things like creative "writing" or expression. Honestly, other than a signature, where is handwriting all that helpful? Much like blogs that look pretty but lack useful content, I don't think the medium is the "problem." (Though the tendency to turn everything into "txt" does bother me.

    I know this is a bit off target from what you are trying to get at, but I don't think technology is the 'problem" so much as it is the "crutch" that people use as an excuse.
    My recent post Archos 70 Internet Tablet

    • HeatherSolos on February 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      I have horrendous handwriting and I always have. I also can't draw. I taught myself to touch type when I was 8, using various Commodore 64 games my dad brought home. I'm about to plop my 7yo in front of them as he can't write worth beans either.
      I hate writing thank you notes / signing cards / etc all because I hate my handwriting that much.

      • @JayMonster on February 21, 2011 at 9:10 pm

        Fortunately for you (and I guess me, since I read it all the time), you are the queen of content, thus proving my point that it is the content, and not the manner in which it is put into text that is most important.
        My recent post Archos 70 Internet Tablet

    • Brian Jacobi Wilder on February 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Coming from grade school overseas, handwriting was drilled into us on a near-daily basis for years. I suppose it's just my childhood angst resurfacing…

    • deneicer1 on December 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Interestingly enough script, handwriting or “cursive” writing have many more important roles than actually writing. The physical act of writing in cursive teaches the two sides of the brain to interact which aids in creativeness, critical thinking, the flow of our thoughts and many other brain enhancing developments. I am saddened that our schools are quickly dropping it from curriculum as funds become less and less. We will have an entire generation of students who do not have the developmental advantages of handwriting.

      Trust me, as a former teacher; they need all the help they can get in the thinking department!

  2. Stacy on February 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Well said. I agree.

  3. Carol Shive Mirek on February 17, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for those gentle reminders. Living in NJ, and the frozen tundra it has become, I am looking forward to being able to spend more time outside this week, without risking frostbite :). And yes, I don't write enough, and my handwriting is worse then it ever was. But man has my typing speed improved 😉

  4. Laura Ragsdale on February 17, 2011 at 8:44 am

    As a letter writer and owner of much paper and many of my favorite Pentel pens, thank you for saying this.

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