No, I haven’t been baking pies and dancing around my kitchen. No, I haven’t finished the Great American Novel either. No, I haven’t run off to Bali or Bermuda (or even the local Barnes and Noble). But I have disconnected from the online world — a bit — with a few observations.
I certainly haven’t disappeared entirely in the past two weeks, though I haven’t blogged, I’ve rarely tweeted, and both Facebook and Instagram have been equally neglected. I have spent more time “productively” tending to my home, and more importantly, productively tending to my life.
This relative “time away” has done me good. Here are a few things I have learned in reducing my social media participation for the first time in seven years, and only for two and a half weeks or so.
What Happens When You Disconnect Online?
What happens when you pull yourself away from your laptop, your desktop, your notebook, your tablet… and even (to a degree) your smartphone?
Here’s what happened to me:
- I felt more relaxed each early morning as I woke, unpressured to “produce” (and publish) outside of the realms of paying work.
- I was able to return to more enjoyable moments with my personal journal, once my morning ritual, and inexpressibly satisfying in the movement of my pen across the paper page, and in writing purely for myself.
- I had more time for my closest friend (in the Real World), more time to talk on the telephone (which I enjoy), more time to Skype with an old friend.
- I had the time needed to explore some new options, which include relocation possibilities, and the mental “space” required to contemplate them more fully.
- And yes, I had more time to cook (and clean up after), without worrying about posing my pleasurable result for a decent image to share on Facebook or Instagram.
- My neck, shoulders, and upper back felt better — I have issues with back pain — no doubt a few less hours per day hunched over a laptop keyboard is helpful, not to mention not being on the laptop six or seven days a week!
Anyone for a Blogging Break?
Naturally, keeping abreast of the news, there have been occasions when I wanted to write, to discuss, to question — here — hoping for a variety of voices to chime in. There have also been events about which I would have struggled to find words of any sort. (How many times are Americans going to ignore the insanity of gun violence?)
I have saved my words for my journal and for personal friends instead.
And, recognizing that writing seven days a week for years can get “old” — even when cut back to three days a week — I knew that a break was in order. A break of some sort. A break in order to focus on happenings in my immediate world. A break to make changes in routine — positive and necessary changes as I, like many readers here, begin another iteration of starting over, and likely in a new place that is as yet to be precisely determined.
That matter aside (yes, I will write about it when I have more cohesive and specific details to offer), it’s always interesting to see what others think of the pros and cons of taking time away from our devices, and in this case, from blogging. This is easier said than done for those of us for whom blogging becomes an integral part of daily life.
I especially like this post on Taking a Summer Blogging Break, and find there is common sense in what the article has to say. Among the advantages this (thrice-weekly) blogger found that are certainly applicable to yours truly are these, as she notes the need to:
rejuvenate myself… focus more on myself instead of on everyone else… spend more time with my family… plan for my future…
I need to take care of me, otherwise I cannot take care of everyone else.
How often do we set aside the time for social media but “can’t” find the time to exercise or eat properly? How often do we make time to chat in Facebook but tell our kids to come back in a few minutes (or an hour) when they want to actually talk? How often are we pouring over words and images to post for others while neglecting our own need for sleep?
I plead guilty on all counts.
Cons When You Disconnect From Facebook, Twitter, Etc.
Sometimes, “taking care of me” is precisely what blogging and social media provide. Not only are these venues for communication cathartic, but they offer connection in a complicated world where even temporary and superficial connection isn’t so easy to establish.
What’s more, we can transform these online connections into important contacts and friendships, particularly given the circumstances in the “real world” that conspire against us: We are isolated by our work (or unemployment), by our locations, by physical constraints, by strange schedules that pose challenges to conventional ways of meeting and interacting with others; we are alone after divorce, widowhood, Empty Nest.
Our online communities become life lines, and excellent ones at that. If we disconnect, we may feel even more alone.
Beyond connection to fill gaps in the Real World, there is also fun and pleasure! The pleasure in finding people of like mind on the other side of the planet, new topics to explore that engage us heart and soul, and of course — shared laughter and shared interests that we can display and describe online.
Other cons to taking a blogging break?
Oh, those sticky tricky issues of identity. For me, not writing — somewhere, in some way — is not fully living, not fully being myself. Then again, for most of my adult life I didn’t write “online” and I was still a writer — without the promotional aspects of our current social media environment. Besides, I know that to write without fully participating in the life that I’m leading is nonsense. And I’ve had to drag myself away from that nonsense before, saying no to devices and yes to the moment, but not for more than 48 hours!
It’s All About Balance
Immersing myself in an activity to the point of pushing beyond reasonable limits?
When I’m passionate about something, this is a toughie, and my tendency to give 300% has always been both a strength and weakness in the way I work, the way I learn, the way I write… And I love to write, preferably combining a bit of the journalistic with the personal, hoping to touch something in someone else — in you who read — in the process.
The challenge, of course: priorities and balance.
Still, in these past weeks I’ve reached for the laptop more than once in order to write a post. I jotted down words (for drafts to develop), I emailed notes to myself for future use, and I refrained from publishing. I confess: I’ve missed the morning discipline, I’ve missed the ongoing conversation, and I’ve missed feeling as though the subjects I raise matter (knowing full well that there are many many others raising these same issues and far more eloquently than I).
I have also felt a heady sense of freedom.
Will I be “around” this summer, and still posting?
However, most important right now is that I take the time I need to flesh out changes I need to conceive and then act on. And, as the blogger referenced above, to rejuvenate, to refocus, and to take care of me.
Have you disconnected recently? What have you discovered?
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