Life in the Real World

I have an addiction to Facebook.

Before that I had an addiction to MySpace.

And before that, I had an addiction to different community forums like exercise and teaching ideas where I could converse with others and learn from them.

I guess it’s not the worse addiction you can have, it’s not terribly expensive, but like any addiction it controls my mind and steals my time.

I remember when the internet was invented, yes I do.  I was at my sister’s house, she was showing me around the World Wide Web and it was a confusing mess with its browser buttons and home page.  I remember thinking I would never understand it and why would I even need to.

Then, for me anyway,  computers were for writing college papers and nothing more.  A fancy typewriter that didn’t need correction tape.  There were no such things as digital photos or downloadable music.   We had 35 mm film and a cassette player.  What more could we possibly need?

I have grown to love the internet, in the most unhealthy of ways.  If I counted the hours of my life that has been, dare I say it, robbed by sitting in front of the computer, I would be riddled with guilt.  It is my Encyclopedia  Britannica.  My source of information at my fingertips.  It is my friend finder, connector to others and relationship builder.   And with my blog, it is my voice.

It’s not all bad.  The internet has taught me much.  Where would my brain be without all the useless knowledge with which I’ve filled it?   It has brought me closer to others.  In the last few years of my dad’s life, we grew to know one another  in a deeper, more personal way.  A way in which we never would have experienced if left to our own conversational abilities, of which neither of us are considered stellar.   And I cherish that.  But with the invention of smart phones, the connection to the internet has gone overboard for me.  Even though I want to believe it is enriching my life, I often wonder if it is in reality sucking the life out of me.

Two weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook account.  Like an addict, I can say today it has been 14 days since I’ve drunk in Facebook, snorted the comments of others, inhaled the sometimes hateful, sometimes loving, sometimes funny, sometimes snarky remarks and jokes of friends and family.

I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve missed it.  It is the first thing I think about doing when I wake up, and throughout the day I catch myself wanting to write on my wall and cyberstalk others.  But it’s been one of the best things I’ve done as well.  I long for the connections with others, but I tell myself that anyone who gives a rip about me has my number, knows my address, maybe has my email and can find me if they truly want to.  It’s nice to have been missed by a few, but for the most part, I’ve discovered my “friends” are merely “acquaintances”.

Will I be back?  Who’s to say.  I’m working on my real-life relationships instead.  Trying to improve my real-life self and draw meaning from this place called life.

So if you’re reading, thanks for stopping by.

I wish you’d say hi.

I probably miss you.

 

Angel Unplugged

Yesterday I did something radical.

I unplugged.

I spent the day (well most of it) with no connection to the outside.  Newsweek published an article in their August 10th edition entitled Technology:  Is it making addicts of us all?

It went on to say “Next year, for the first time, “Internet use disorder’ will be listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”

So now it’s a disorder.

I love technology.  I love the internet.  I love that the whole world is at my fingertips.  I am a knowledge seeker and I think it’s cooler than crap that I can just google something and instantly know the answer where previously I would have just scratched my head in curiosity and went about my business.  But if I want to know if EK is developing on target.  Bam!  If I want to know how to finish a seam without a serger.  Bam.  If I want to know how much money is in my bank account.  Bam.  If I want to know how many calories I’m supposed to eat and be able to lose a pound a week.  Bam.

The internet has helped me raise chickens.  It’s helping me raise my kid.  It finds better words for me when I’ve used the word helped too much.  With the internet I can put my thoughts out there for the world to critique and I can pay my bills on time with online bill pay.  And then there’s the whole social networking thing.  Yes, I’m speaking of Facebook.  Before that there was myspace, and before that there were chat rooms and forums.   It helps me have friends on my own terms.

So yeah, I like technology.

I’m on my computer a lot.  And if I’m not on my computer, I’m on my phone.  But I don’t want to be addicted.  I don’t want to be mastered by it.  I do not want to have a pathological relationship with my devices.  According to the Newsweek article, internet addicts are considered those who are online more than 38 hours a week.  That’s about 5.5 hours a day (and I didn’t have to google that).  In addition, brain scans of these people can resemble those of cocaine addicts and alcoholics due to a shot of dopamine the reward center of our brain receives each time we receive instant gratification of a text, tweet, email alert etc.

Internet addict?  That’s me.

So I asked for my husband’s help and told him my plan of spending a day unplugged.  I sweetly asked him to take my phone and my computer with him when he left for work the next day.  Yes, I’m that weak.  Well, guess what?  He didn’t.  So yesterday morning, I was faced with the moral dilemma of “should I really go through with this or wait until another time?”  I decided to forge ahead and standing on a very tall stool, I grievously put my “devices” in the top of my bedroom closet and began my day.

I’m not going to lie to you.  It was tough.  The first thing I wanted to do was check the weather on my weather app, but instead I stepped outside.  Brilliant idea, huh?

I couldn’t call anyone, I couldn’t text anyone.

At one point, I thought I smelled a grassfire. Like an Indian brave, I scanned the horizon, sniffing the wind.  I got nothing.  Oh well, guess I’ll evacuate when I see the flames.

Throughout the day, my mind was “online”.

But it was oh-so-good for me.

  • Emma and I had a fun day because I wasn’t distracted a bit by anything else.
  • During her naps, my house got a wee bit cleaner.
  • I had supper cooked by 3:00.
  • I wrote this blog out long handed and awoken my middle finger callous.  He’s been sleeping way too long anyway.
  • I prayed longer and more often.
  • I spent more time outdoors, despite the wind.
  • I held my baby and tried to imagine a few years down the road when she won’t want to be held and I’ll wish I had this day back.

I felt refreshed, lightened, un-cluttered.  So much so, that I’m going to try to make it a once a week occurrence.

J-Dub returned home around 4:30.  He claimed he hadn’t forgotten to take my devices, he just knew I could do it.  Then arose the question of “when is my unplugged day over?”  Is it when my husband came home and theoretically brought my devices back to me?  Is it 24 hours front the time I decided to do it?  Is it at midnight?  I decided for no good reason, that at 8:30 my unplugged day would be over.

And I got my fix.

You want to know what I discovered?

I hadn’t missed a thing.