Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Back to the Real World . . .
WARNING/SPOILER ALERT - This is a long post that really doesn't say much and doesn't have the "happiest" of endings (for you blog lovers) but I wanted to clarify why I am cutting my Internet cord and, as you know, brevity is NOT a strength of mine.
It is a great relief. It really is.
I found myself, at 2:15 AM (and unable to sleep) on a Sunday morning in the dark office off the kitchen. Only the glow of the computer monitor and the roar of the computer were my companions. Joy, Ava and Lily slept (sorta') in our oft-discussed "family bed" (ugh) directly above me.
I was on a mission. An all-too-common mission. I was Facebooking, Tweeting, Blogging and E-mailing. All at the same time. Why? Can't tell you. I really can't.
Let me be clear. I am a professional communicator. I LOVE that the way we communicate is changing and evolving. I admire these brilliant people who can dream up these social media "platforms" and then get millions and millions of people to engage in them. The whole reason I got started with any social media was a professional desire to stay "hip, "current", "young" (stop laughing).
I totally GET why these technologies are infectious. We can now "stay in touch" with THOUSANDS of people from our past (and, with some technologies that don't require passwords and approved access - like this here blog - the ENTIRE WORLD). We can do it with just a few key strokes. People everywhere can INSTANTLY see your cute child's photos. They can watch videos that you find funny. They can keep up to date with your status and your desires and they can even learn, for those with enough time to take the quizzes, what your gangster name is, your porn name, your ideal city to live in and which member of the cast of Scrubs you are most like (I wish I was kidding). It is all. too. easy.
So - later that same day, having pre-typed four blog posts (you don't really think I sit around and prattle on and on and on about this stuff in real time, do you?), having Tweeted nine times and having reached for the phone three times to call my dear friend Chris Delenick but put the phone back down all three times figuring "I'll catch up with him later." and having annoyed Joy for being on the computer AGAIN when Ava's bath time rolled around . . . I did what I didn't think I was capable of.
I logged on to Facebook and just started chopping. I cut my "Friends" from 330 to 110. I took down pictures and videos, I turned off my notification preferences so my Blackberry (the other terrible addiction in my life) would not buzz everytime any one in my circle moved, sneezed or posted a "funny" and I told Facebook to NOT let me know every time I was POKED (what the hell is that to begin with?).
It is NOTHING personal (despite the conspiracy theories that might arise) to those of you that got cut. It has NOTHING to do with any of you and ONLY to do with me. I kept only people who are truly active and present in my life (co-workers, Wichita friends, IBM people I truly stay in touch with, a handful of my "DC people" and maybe a small handful of other randoms).
I slashed the high school, college and grad school people I've long since lost touch with. I wish them well but - I don't know them any more and they don't know me. I cut the people who sent me invites to be "friends" as part of some frenzy of "add, add, add" obsession (you can see how many people someone recently became friends with and - with some new contacts - I was one of like TWENTY people that day alone). I even cut out people I had reached out to in the first place. I was THAT serious about this (smile). I looked at each one of the 330 people and asked three simple questions . . .
1 - When is the last time I SPOKE to this person?
2 - What is this person's relationship status? What is their spouse's/significant other's name (where applicable)? What are their child(ren)'s names (where applicable)?
3 - Is this web platform the only impression this person has of my current life and is that the appropriate context of who I am?
There were no absolutes in terms of the answers that kept or lost people but - by and large - I was able to cut anyone that I had not spoken to in 18 months, who's boyfriends and kids (or whatever) I could not name and who I felt I would not want them to only have an idea of who I "am" by reading my crap (and it is all crap) on Facebook.
I made a commitment to myself to NOT log back on to Facebook for two full weeks (you laugh but I've seriously struggled to honor the commitment - I've got a problem) and I made a decision to NOT use Facebook for anything other than staying current and hip on the technologies that fuel my profession and to maintain and expand my CURRENT network of people.
So - there it is. I'm sorta' free. No more Facebook running my life. It was too much of a time suck. I felt too guilty about having to check out people's pictures and videos and to comment and/or having them feel compelled to check in on my life - almost entirely my WORK life, I might add (I had a few pictures of Ava and Joy up there, I would occasionally status update on my personal life, etc. but 95% or more of my crap on Facebook is work related . . . a percentage that will likely increase moving forward).
I'm also making new rules on this blog.
I'm not shutting it down. I can't. I'm 485 posts in and I really find this to be a sort of therapy that I don't know what I would do with out. I wish I knew who each of the 450 - 500 people per week that read the blog. I wish I knew what they saw in the blog. I wish I knew what value it had to them (simple voyeurism, an obsession with my obsession with Ava, a desire to learn more about my great, great taste in music (smile), a connection through the GB world, a long-lost friend that only has a "tie" to me through the blog, a morbid curiosity for the day I would start gaining weight again and what would happen next, etc.) and I wish I felt like I was giving those readers something that was worth the trouble (or at least SPELLCHECKED!).
I AM going to step away from it though - a little bit. I am not going to spend any more time just typing and typing and typing. I don't see the real value in it, frankly. I've just re-read my last ten posts. I could BARELY do it and I am the person I am reading about (God bless those of you that suffer me on an almost daily basis).
I'm going to Twitter still (seancamore - for those that Tweet) because that is 140 characters per micro-post so I can't spend too much time doing it and I am fascinated with the random celebrities and causes and groups that Twitter and how they use the technology (I feel like Ben Folds and I are personal friends at this point (smile)).
Why do all this (you wonder)? Simple. Time.
There is not enough of it in the average day. I'm a husband. I'm a father. I'm a professional. I'm a son. I'm a brother. I'm an uncle. I'm a friend. I'm a fat man with 30 pounds to lose. I'm a man struggling to grow my social circle and to focus on my personal happiness and mental growth. I'm a man who's FINALLY spending time working out and exercising and trying to stop some of this skin from sagging as low as it does (I'm not kidding, my nipples are six inches below where they should be as I type).
I'm going to take the 45 minutes to an hour a day that I used to spend on all these "social media" platforms and I'm going to get SOCIAL. I'm going to pick up the phone. I'm going to write letters. ACTUAL letters. I'm going to mail a birthday card. Hell - I'm going to mail out the Mother's Day cards Joy, Ava and I made out to my mother. I'm going to walk. I'm going to watch (and participate with) an exercise DVD. I'm going to read. I'm going to write. I'm going to spend even more time with Joy and Ava.
With the exception of letting Ava obsess over Clara Thomas and her blog, I'm going to stop reading my friend's blogs as passionately as I did (a friend of mine recently took down her blog for security reasons and I still check her homepage almost daily - it is a real problem for me) and I will stop being so lazy about trying to be a real family member, friend and partner to the people in my life.
I'll miss it. I will. I twitch every time I check my internet bookmarks and see a friend's blog I will want to check in. I will want to go on Facebook every time someone takes a picture of me doing something stupid (an hourly occurrence, I can assure you) and I will probably be tempted to get on the blog and RAIL every time a colleague or stranger on the street talks about someone being "fat" but I will figure it out.
I'll be okay. We'll all be okay. Maybe if we all, as a society, spent a little more time truly investing in and spending time with each other (rocking our daughters to sleep in their oversized, purple rocking chair/recliners) we would be happier and healthier. Maybe we would not be as obese if we spent less time at the keyboard and more time on the treadmill or walking with friends or walking around a museum or just not filling idle time with calories and dormancy.
I'm going to take the plunge. I'm going to take my hour per day wasted BACK. I'm going to put it towards exercise, my family, my friends and my SELF.
Give me a shout if you are missing me (I'll happily give you my phone numbers if you don't have them any more) or zap me an e-mail. I'll try to do the same with and for you.
Until we type again . . . I wish you health, true happiness and real relationships with people who deserve your time, energy and passion. And I wish you less typos!