Wednesday, August 15, 2012

web-aholics anonymous?

I've talked about this before, and it's on my mind again.

The Internet.

Ah, my I-can't-live-without-you relationship. Sad, I know.


Hello, I'm Mia, and I'm a web-aholic.

Anyone else with me?

Or am I hearing crickets in the background? I know you're out there...

Recently I read an article about how the web is driving us mad. I do understand that the title is a bit inaccurate as it's not the internet itself, but how we use it (and the author does say this - that it's how we use it that creates problems).

I started thinking about this as I move forward in my new little venture that I wrote about yesterday, and how I would need to strengthen my online presence, my network, yada yada yada. And yes, I know it's important in any business.

Instagram. Pinterest. LinkedIn. Blogger. Facebook. And crap, now I have to tweet? (shudder)

I'm not against any of these things. In fact I use most of them (so far, except Twitter. Not quite ready for that). I don't know how we managed before Skype or Facetime, especially to keep in touch with family and friends who are half a world away. And I'm not afraid to say I love using these tools - though some more than others. Duh, I write a blog, right? And I'm a self-proclaimed Instagram-aholic.

It used to be (years ago) that I went on the Internet for a very specific purpose. To send an email, for example. Going online meant waiting for a dial-up connection that was spotty at best (do you all still remember that somewhat annoying sound when connecting through dial-up? Those were the days...). I would send off my email then disconnect and turn that clunky computer off. And now we have information right at our fingertips, 24/7/365, all in sleek, fast, tiny-yet-powerful devices. How many of us check our email on our phones even before we get out of bed? (slowly and guiltily raising a hand here)

I've been thinking about this as Kristin has been writing a series on intentionality over the past several days (starting with simplifying our lives - go catch up here if you're interested - it's good stuff!)

But that's the key - it used to be that I got on the Internet because of a specific intention or purpose. Now, I sometimes catch myself realizing how it can really become an almost mindless, endless time-suck. It's no longer very mindful or intentional because it's something that is just always there. Being online has now become a default state. Just think about all those smartphone apps that have "push notifications" that make something pop up on your screen every second of the day (ok, I'm exaggerating) unless you choose to turn it off in your settings.

"In less than the span of a single childhood, Americans have merged with their machines." (Tony Dokoupil)

 No wonder it's so easy to get overwhelmed.

I've gone through phases of taking breaks. Several months ago I took a Facebook break, and I've since lessened my use of it once I got back on. Last week I didn't write anything on my blog. I felt the need to be away for a little bit and unplug, and just do something else. I also didn't want to write just for the sake of posting something on the blog. Interestingly, a couple of my friends also talked about how they felt the need to do the same last week, and I've even read other bloggers write about the need to take a break. Funny how I heard this from so many people, at the same time I had been thinking about it for the past couple of weeks. There must have been something about how the planets were aligned recently or what phase the moon was in, I don't know.

Regardless, I think it's great when that happens. It's good and healthy to recognize when we need to turn off. Though I think it would be even better if I learned to manage it from the start before I get overwhelmed.

I think the key is to remember how the Internet is a tool, after all. A hammer - or any tool for that matter - is only as good as its user; if the user has the skill to manage it and use it toward a specific end or outcome. The next step then would be to keep our intention or outcome in mind, then be selective about the online tools we use, and finally to manage how we use it. It becomes problematic when the Internet controls us, when it really should be the other way around. The problem is that it's just so.freaking.addictive. (I'm looking at you, Instagram.)

So in thinking about my Internet use, I started to feel a sense of dread, almost, as I thought about the need to do more online marketing and be even more plugged in once I "officially" launch my business. But in the end, it's also a choice. I read an interesting take on Facebook from a successful blogger who chose not to use it (see here - part 1 and 2). So maybe I won't have to start tweeting, after all. Whew. I can choose not to.

Yes, my use of the Internet comes from a desire to connect with others. I've started making some great connections online and I do enjoy my (small) online blogging community. The Internet is only one of the tools to meet that end. I actually enjoyed my Facebook break - I decided I would more intentionally re-connect with others by making more phone calls or sending a card via snail mail. (I still enjoy doing that... don't you?). But a certain amount of being plugged in is inevitable, and it's up to me to make healthy choices and manage my online time.

On "Sacred Space"

I loved this article on the need to reclaim sacred space. Such a great reminder to allow ourselves time to be free of interruptions and enjoy just being alone with our thoughts without the constant dings and beeps from our mobile devices. This friend recently told me about how she started sketching and drawing again - what a great example of creating sacred space.

I'm looking forward to my sacred space on my yoga mat today - I'll be teaching a class tonight (yay!). Then there's my after-dinner walk with A., when we talk about our dreams, exchange even more childhood stories, or laugh at the corniest of jokes. And my sacred space in the kitchen to experiment with a new shortbread flavor or bond with my ice cream maker. ;-) All great times to be mindful, intentional, and present.

How do you unplug? Do you intentionally create a "sacred space" for yourself?

Pin It!

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Well written, as always Mia. (and thanks for the shout out!) I've been on the overwhelmed train many times, and have to fight to keep the internet in its proper a tool! It's hard when part of your WORK is on the computer...much more temptation! But I've always been happiest when things are under control and in healthy balance. Good luck! Oh, and so exciting about your new venture!!!! Whoohooo!!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...