This past January I took an extended weekend trip with a bunch of girlfriends to DisneyWorld. The entire time we were there, most of my friends were glued to their iPhones. Checking Facebook, their email, texting. We even have video of it, because it was so funny. Before I left, I had even set up my Facebook account to allow me to text status updates to it. For whatever excuse I may have had, or that we may have given, this is actually pretty sad. And now I have a few friends who “gave up Facebook for Lent.”
Why are we so tethered to all of the little networks available to us now? Why is that we cannot even take a vacation where we do not have to be checking our email or texting everyone we know? A lot of it is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter suck you into the “community”, that sense of being connected to your followers or friends. That there are people interested in what we have to say 24 hours a day. And we require instant updates from others, or comments on our status. Why is this? And what about the damage being done to our bodies with the excessive texting? Seriously! Think about how much you or a teenager you know texts.
I am not saying I am above this – I find myself checking my Facebook account several times a day, if I have access to a computer. I do not have a smartphone, but now I’m thinking that it may not be a good idea to get one. And I purposely do not have a Twitter account, because I feel that I do not need another thing cluttering up my life.
But is it possible to unplug from all of this, even for a little while? A lot of people obviously get by without any social network at all. Others unplug for the weekend, or several days at a time. I want to say I am in the weekend group, because I tend to not check email or facebook at all when I am not at work. But if I happen to get a chance at a laptop, forget it. It’s the first thing I do.
As short as even 5 years ago, these networks were not even a blip on anyone’s radar. I know at that time, online instant messaging was the biggest thing. If you had a cellphone, that’s all it was – a phone. If you were super-snazzy, you had a PDA (how quaint!). Makes me wonder what the next 5 years will bring.
What did I do before everyone in the world jumped on the white and blue site? I wrote emails to people, called them on the phone, or even *gasp!* wrote them a letter by hand. I remember using stamps; something I am not sure my children will ever be able to say. When you do not plug in to this vast online world, your world suddenly becomes much smaller. We used to talk to our neighbors more, building that relationship. We visited our relatives that lived near-by more often, building that relationship.
So, basically, we took the time.
I feel like my life right now is run, run, run, get this, get that, go here, go there – oh! stop! I have to do laundry. No, no, run there, eat this, do that. I feel like I am never able to stop running. So, the little snippets that we are grabbing from our online “friends” is what we are using to feed the void we have created by this never-ending marathon.
But if we take the time and physically nurture the relationships with those in our little itty-bitty world, we slow down. We relax. And we may feel more fulfilled.
Am I ready to give up Facebook? I’m not sure. Almost. (I recently whittled my “friend” list from 300+ to right around 60). Will I get that smartphone? I don’t think so – but I may have to go buy a paper daily planner (do they still make them?) to keep track of the family schedule.
And I think I will start filling those empty spaces with real people, instead of digital ones.