Weekends Unplugged

I hit a little bit of a breaking point yesterday.  Unfortunately, when I get stuck in a weather cycle that includes days of rain and thunderstorms I’ll inevitably develop a migraine and end up way more agitated over the smallest things than any human should be.  That was yesterday for me.  I skipped out on an event I had full intentions of going to, told everyone I was turning off my phone and hiding out until Monday.

I’m at the house, still in my PJs fresh from a long nap, uninterrupted by a house filled with bleeps and bloops. I spent the morning knitting and watching a couple of movies, dived into a book for a while, you know, the stuff introverty type people enjoy when they’ve finally hit their wall.

Silence is never an option in our lives, but it’s almost jarring when you notice just how often some bit of technology is making sounds and demanding your attention so often.

As much as I love technology’s ability to keep us all connected there are times I wish it wasn’t so simple.  There are days that a text message notification makes me want to throw my phone across the room.  It’s usually someone just typing the word “hi” as an opener to pry into the rest of my day, and at times that feels so intrusive it will make me angry. Then god forbid you don’t reply fast enough, there are people that insist on continuing the intrusion again by either texting again or calling with ‘is everything okay you didn’t answer?’ causing further annoyance.  It’s probably just a quirky introvert issue, but it’s still an issue.  It also is likely a failure on my part to place boundaries on the repeat offenders.  I felt it a little sad that I had to announce on a certain social media page that I need a quiet day, and even then, that isn’t fully respected by some.  I’ve picked up my phone twice today to see a handful of messages from people that obviously didn’t see or willfully ignored my request for a quiet day, and a few that were legitimately passing along info that I needed for the week that knew I wouldn’t be responding.

So yes, I’m bitching a bit, so on to other things.

An unplugged weekend may turn into a permanent affair.  When I see that usage stats notification come through on my phone, my skin crawls and I feel utterly disappointed with myself.  Despite feeling like I don’t waste a great deal of time dicking around on my phone, the actual numbers say otherwise.  I waste 15-20 hours a week on a tiny screen that does nothing to improve my life.  I should be wasting that time reading, crafting, sleeping (poking at a screen until the wee hours happens more than I like), learning something new, actually going out and doing something, on and on and on.  I’ve also been struggling with feeling like the weekends are stolen by chores and errands.  Maybe reclaiming some of those 15-20 hours a week and actually taking care of things would give me the weekends back.

rs_560x415-150107143918-1024.Oregon-Trail-Game-MS-Dos.jl.010715I’m feeling a little nostalgic of my early adulthood years. I’m an Xennial, the Oregon Trail generation, that odd little age group that doesn’t quite fit Gen X or the Millennials. In fact, being called a millennial at times feels like an insult.  I remember the dark ages before the internet and before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket. At 18 there was access to the internet, cell phones were finally getting to pocket sized, texting was an option for those of us that didn’t feel the need to get drawn into a phone conversation, and those were brief (T9 was a bitch), and social media wouldn’t begin to become a factor in our lives until 2003.  I’m not going to lie, there’s been a few times today when I’ve fought the urge to check the social media networks to see what’s going on.  It’s not a secret that I’ve felt social media holds too much real estate in our minds, and I’ve struggled with the idea of disconnecting from it entirely.  I haven’t because I feel like there is actually risk that I would lose contact with people I care about because they are so entrenched, that contacting others outside FB, twitter, instagram and the myriad of others is no longer on their radar.

So if I feel forced to participate I can at least have better control of it.  I’m going to experiment for a bit, beginning Friday nights after I get in for the evening I’ll log out of the whole mess until Monday morning.  But that all comes down to one thing, do I have the self control to keep it up, or am I too sucked into this mess to do it on a routine basis. This is were it all wraps up today.  I’m going to go cook a nice dinner, and go back to the book I’m reading.  What do you guys think? Am I alone in feeling this way, or is this a problem for you too?



Oh Hey There….

I've seriously neglected this little corner of the blogosphere for a bit.

I think most of us start blogs with solid intentions of posting often, but in all honesty it doesn't appear that many of us put fingers to keyboard often enough. I have difficulty in sharing bits and pieces of my life with strangers at times, and as much as I love knitting, it's hard to write about consistently.

After all look how many blogs and vlogs are dedicated to the fiber arts that do a much better job than I ever could, but I certainly intended this site on being much more than a class listing and review site.

Maybe its time to crack the shell a bit and share some personal bits.

It's no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It's been closer to hate/hate this year. There was a previous post on the topic earlier this year. At that point I had logged out of a few places until the burn of the Trump inauguration settled down on both sides of the political fence. The rapid fire back and forth of certain sites was maddening. It never really settled down, I've just grown to ignore more and more of it, or better yet have found that liberal use of the unfollow, unfriend, and block buttons can be liberating.

But here I am again. Frustrated.

It's not hard to figure out why. Just watch the news.

It's times like these when it seems like the entire country is whipped into a frenzy that I want nothing more than to draw the shades and pull a blanket over my head for a few weeks. That isn't an option though. No matter what happens, life has to keep moving forward. Unfortunately, it's also hard to share how I really feel about such polarizing topics. We (as in the general population) have lost the ability to listen to differing opinions and speak with civility. Instead of conversation we viciously attack each other. All I know to do is to keep being who I am, helping those I can, being a sounding board for those that need it, and a sanctuary for anyone that needs to escape the noise.

I'm more than happy to meet anyone at the local coffee house with a ball of yarn and a couple of sticks to participate in a bit of escapism, no hot button issues, just a bit of caffeine and peace.

I Am Not My Digital Life

I’ve had a rough week.  There were a few moments last night where I began working on a scorched earth blog post about just how crappy it was,  but after a glass of wine the delete draft button was hit.  Yes, it really has been one of those weeks,  work issues, tech issues, those kind of things, and honestly I was a bit fed up by the time I was able to sit down and begin kicking over to weekend mode.

After beginning to catch up on a backlog of podcasts this morning I’m glad I hit that delete button.

TED Radio Hour has been a staple on the podcast list for quite a while, and their recent podcasts, Screen Time Part 1 and Part 2, should be on the mandatory listening list for all of us that participate in social networking.  Both go into detail about how screen time and social networking have forever changed how we interact with others around us.  For me it was a stark reminder that I have been a little dependent on my “digital life”, for social interaction.   That’s an odd thing to say from someone who recently began a public blog.

Several weeks ago, I logged out of several social networking sites indefinitely, and after what felt like withdrawal for a few days, I’m finally comfortable with that decision.  There have been a few studies, specifically related to Facebook, about how active use can negatively impact mood.  For me,  shortly before the Presidential Inauguration, I hit the peak of digital misery.  My personal political views are irrelevant,  it had nothing to do with who was being inaugurated but everything to do with the constant stream of negativity that was filling the news feed about the inauguration.

I’m all for free discussion of beliefs and ideals, as long as it can be done civilly.  Too many politically themed posts became ugly personal attacks in the comments section, and after seeing several close friends ripped apart for articulately and thoughtfully expressing their views and feelings, I began fighting the urge to step in and defend those being attacked despite their expression of views that may not have aligned with my own.  I decided to step away.  Nothing I could say would have changed the mind of anyone who immediately chose to go the route of insulting personal attacks, but I would have ended up emotionally invested.  I then noticed a trend that the posts of friends and family became more negative in general, it seemed nothing good was happening to anyone.  Were they feeling the pull towards darkness from their own feeds?

I don’t want my digital persona to give people the impression that my actual persona is negative and argumentative individual because I took the bait to comment on another’s post, or through a knee jerk reaction typed something onto a screen I would have taken more time to respond to in person.  I have my moments, we all do, but overall I’m pretty positive (at least I think so) and easy to get along with.  Ignoring the temptation to write a scorched earth, negative post could have planted those seeds of negativity here, and I don’t want that.  I promised myself that if I was going to take the time to write a blog again, it would not degrade to day-to-day diary style posts about the little things, good or bad.  I have an actual, honest to God, paper journal for that.  This is a space largely for my passions, and occasionally for moments like this post where I feel the need to express thoughts and feelings.

After opting out of some toxic networking, it feels like I’ve gotten part of my life back, after realizing how much time was being sucked into looking into a screen looking for the approval or sympathy of my peers on the whatever little bit of info I threw out there.  I also didn’t realize how much anxiety some social media platforms had created by waiting on responses from others, especially on posts/comments that could potentially cause debate.  I’m almost embarrassed that I have looked for the approval of others through social networking, but let’s be honest, seeking approval is human nature.  How many of the people on these sites actually know me though?  It’s a small percentage.  Even the people who knew me as a child, or teenager that I’ve reconnected with over the years probably know little about the events or interactions with others in my “real life”  that have formed me into the person I am now.  To some extent, we’re still strangers, despite actually knowing each other at a point in time.  With a simple click you add this person back into your digital life, but does anyone really take the time to catch up?  Or do we just stalk their past posts a bit, and just assume we know what’s up?  I think too many of us get caught up on what we thought of these people when we interacted with them in the past and let them have far too much power and influence in our lives now just because we have given them the option to comment on a dinky post.  We also let true strangers that we may have friended out of a common interest  or  shared friend have too much influence.  Why was I giving up emotional real estate to people I barely know? I think I’ve become conditioned through years of social media use to sell that real estate to strangers.

The podcasts I referenced earlier brought up a disturbing point, well at least for me anyway, about what happens to the thousands of bits of data we put out there when we die.  I don’t want to be remembered through silly memes, soap box stands, and two sentence glimpses into life.  Our digital lives are not true examples of ourselves, and the idea posed in the 2nd part of the Screen Time series that it may be possible in the future to build robots with the personalities of the deceased by analyzing  their social media presence is horrifying.  There’s a wake up call.   Let me make it clear now, that my digital life is NEVER to be turned into a robot for anyone, period, end of conversation.  Grieve over me the old-fashioned way, with a night of booze and story telling.

At the end of all my rambling, I’m pretty happy with where I am right now, in both lives, digital and actual.  I have a presence through this blog, which through format alone allows for constructed thoughts, instead of vague snapshots.  Am I looking for approval from my peers here?  Meh, maybe a bit, once again, human nature; but is blogging driven towards that goal?  Not really.  I mean, I would like it if people took the time to read what I write, but it isn’t the end of the world if no one interacted.  In all honesty, with the way WordPress is structured a lot of unsolicited negativity can be deleted and ignored before it even hits public viewing space. In real life, yeah, it was a shitty week. Everyone has those.  I’ll reboot a bit, and face the next week on Monday.

Until then, I’m going to go make another pot of coffee and pull out the knitting needles and make the best of the weekend.