Friday, February 3, 2012

A break from the internet

I never finished my travel stories from over a year ago and it feels really awkward to move on from that last entry without doing that, so let me sum up: Melissa got a terrible cold. We met Mel, a friend I'd known on the internet since I was 16, and that was cool. We visited the British Museum, which is my favorite museum of all the museums I've ever visited. Oh, we also visited the Tower of London somewhere in there, which was also extremely cool.

Are we good? Has some of the awkwardness dissipated? We're good if I don't even mention the baby we've had since we went to Europe? Great!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted this to Twitter: "Sometimes when I can't get to Facebook I have a small uplifting moment where I go, 'Maybe someone has destroyed it and we're all free now.'" Since then, I've asked myself over and over, "If I feel that way, why do I keep using these things?"

As you have probably guessed from the title, I am posting about the break from the internet I am about to take. "Why are you posting about that here?" you ask, very wisely, because it's not like I have posted here in a very long time and will be neglecting an audience if I take a break.

I am posting here because, see, I have a fantasy. I have a fantasy about a life where I do not hit the refresh button on my browser a thousand times a day. I have a fantasy where my free time is spent reading books that I love rather than rolling my eyes at the fifty utterly inane things my "friends" have reposted on Facebook in the past hour, things that weren't funny when they were first printed on cheap t-shirts in the 80s, or things about Jesus or Republicans or Democrats that get reposted due to some impulse that does not sit well with me, even when I'm the one who has done it. Where I don't have to put the word friends in scare quotes because my interaction with them is a little bit more meaningful and less dissipated through social media. Where when I read things, I read in big chunks and not little soundbites. Where I have time to think about something I've just read rather than flicking on to the next thing.

I don't think all social media is bad, or even most of it. But I am jealous of my time, and I have this fantasy. I'm posting about it here because, in this fantasy, my blog is the only place I post anything.

I've also been reading a book with a main character who reads constantly. She's 15. It's reminded me that when I was young, I read constantly, too. I took a book with me everywhere. I never stopped reading. I miss that. I still read plenty, but when I have a few minutes I am more apt to check my phone than I am to read a page or two of a book, and that feels somehow less true to myself. If I were about to die, one of my regrets would be "I haven't read enough books."

I don't know if everyone does this, but when I feel like this about something, I tend to make plans. How can I get from this fantasy to reality? I think. This is my way. Yesterday I sat outside (in the sunshine in February!) and wrote this list of rules down, and I thought about writing this post, and how it would be embarrassing to announce this on Facebook even if I was doing it just for accountability, and that thought made me want to do this even more, because one of the things that makes me most uncomfortable about Facebook is letting so many people back into my life that I was probably well rid of a long time ago.

The truth is, it's likely nothing would ever have come of this--who knows, really--because I am an old hat at making these kinds of plans, but I am also realistic and know that it's hard to break habits, and my flicking around the internet habit is very well ingrained. I usually make a plan like this and then carry on my merry way, possibly moderating my behavior a little bit, but nothing drastic. I tend to think that shaking things up too much can be stressful, and I do not need extra stress right now.

But this morning I mentioned my fantasy to Melissa and I said, "I was thinking about doing this until spring break, I probably won't, but..." and she laughed and said, "I'd be impressed if you did this for just one week."

Challenge accepted, I thought, and here I am. It's a good week for it, as I need to spend most of next week prepping for tests that are the week after, and I have a paper due. I am going to follow the rules I wrote down until next Friday morning. It may be unrealistic to think I could stay away from Facebook and Twitter until spring break, but hell, a week? I can do this. Right? I totally can. I've just deleted a bunch of bookmarks to make this a little more easy, and I went through Twitter and Facebook to remove all emailed notifications they might send. I'm about to update Goodreads since I finished that book last night. I'll post a link to this post at both Facebook and Twitter. Then I'm out, at least from a lot of things.

If I like it, I might keep right on until spring break. If it's a nightmare, well, I'll quit. And hell, if it's making me completely crazy in two days, you'll see me around in the usual places, because it's not worth it if I can't get anything done.

1 comment:

  1. Started reading Among Others already, I take it? That book made me so nostalgic for those days in middle and high school when I could just devour books constantly.