No Computer Fridays

Today begins my experiment with No Computer Fridays. Between my paying job and the writing I do in my spare time, I spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of a computer screen. I need a day to take a break from it all. So, I’m writing this post on Thursday night, scheduling it for Friday morning, and leaving my computer off for an entire day. An entire day without checking email, browsing Facebook, reading news online, or finding myriad other day-off distractions on the interwebs. I think it shall be glorious. In the spirit of No Computer Fridays, I am re-sharing a post from my Skirt! days. (Not gonna lie…it’s nice to re-read this as the writer and see that I have made some progress in my online goals since October 2011. Sometimes I worry I only resolve to grow and never really do the growing bit.)

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Living Offline

If something happens, and you don’t share it on Facebook or Twitter, did it really happen?  I took a second to think about this after something pretty spectacular happened to me this week.  My first impulse was to put a status update on Facebook to tell all my friends about it.  I refrained from doing just that after pausing a minute to think about the fact that this particular event probably wouldn’t mean a lot to anyone but me and a few of my closest friends.

It’s not that my community of Facebook friends wouldn’t be happy for me.  It’s just that the significance of the event lies in the deeply personal nature of it.  It mattered to me because of my individual story, passion, and goals.  I didn’t want to diminish the experience by inviting onlookers who really didn’t understand why something so small meant so much to me.  So I kept it to myself and three other people and I’m very pleased with my choice.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter make it exceptionally easy for us to include family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers in the ups and downs of our existence.  This is both a blessing and a pitfall.  It is perfect for disseminating important information about life events throughout our entire collective with minimal effort or for connecting with others over the mundane.  But I wonder if some of us have lost the ability to privately savor the significant moments in our lives whether good or bad.

I have experienced horror and astonishment as someone in my circle of Facebook friends shares all the dirty details of their current relationship problems in a status update that reaches hundreds of people.  People I thought were pretty great in person sometimes turn out to be less than charming online where they feel safe to spew vitriol, judgment, and meanness all over Facebook. Thanks to Facebook’s shove down memory lane via my own past status updates, I am quick to realize (and admit) that I have been guilty of my own embarrassing over-shares.  Sometimes I have shared something I thought was amazing only to have the pleasure of it diminished by comments from friends.  I have made my fair share of online mistakes and missteps.  I have sometimes forgotten that the entire reason I joined Facebook was to connect with others, not just to have others connect with me.  Social media makes narcissism as easy as a status update.

Now I am challenging myself to be less focused on sharing my own story and spend more time really listening to the stories of others.  I am challenging myself to place less importance on whether or not my friends know that such and such event happened to me and place more importance on simply savoring the experience.  I am challenging myself to build more friendships face to face instead of just clicking “Accept Friend Request”.  I am finding a balance between online and offline existence and I am happier for it.

What are your thoughts on social media and the time spent in front of computers? Let me know in a comment. I’d love to read your perspective.

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6 responses to “No Computer Fridays

  1. I like your idea of taking one day away from the computer. I am thinking maybe I could do that on Sundays. Thank you for sharing your previous piece from Skirt! My first reaction is to just say that I dislike Facebook, and leave it at that. Then I thought that doesn’t explain anything and certainly doesn’t add to the conversation. So here goes, in addition to the narcissism that social media has made so easy, it has fueled voyeurism and exhibitionism as well. While the idea may have been to help people stay connected I find that often it leaves people feeling more lonely and isolated than ever, not to mention dissatisfied. The posts on Facebook can be likened to sound bites. What is lacking is the depth and complexity that is the true human experience. Personally, I prefer to see the photos of your latest adventure and listen to the stories that go along with the experience, good and bad. I want to laugh and cry with you, not just scroll down the screen to the next “friend’s” sound bite.

    • Tracy, your observations about Facebook are, sadly, spot on in so many instances. I’ve read countless articles about how spending a lot of time on Facebook fuels depression because people think everyone else is happier/more adventurous/more loved/etc. than they are. I know I’ve found that to be true at times in my own life, too. Depth and complexity…definitely not something readily seen on Facebook.

      My husband posted a photo on his Facebook page of my recent wood-chopping adventure (first time with an ax) which, while hilarious, is not a very flattering picture of me. My ego noticed all the flaws right away. But the part of me interested in authenticity was happy to share the picture with our friends because it brought them into a funny moment with me. But it was so hard to keep it up there at first! :)

      I used to get in arguments with people on Facebook over ‘sound bites’ that I found offensive or narrow-minded. But I realized I was doing a disservice to the offline relationship by doing so. Today I was tempted to make comments on two separate ‘sound bites’ but stopped to ask myself if it would really add to the conversation or the relationship. The answer was no. So I didn’t type anything. It is so hard to be intentional and mature on Facebook sometimes. I like offline relationships or relationships through blogging better. :)

  2. From one who considered canceling Thanksgiving (the meal, the visitors, everything) so that I would have time to google ALL weekend a consistent habit of no computer use for an entire day does not sound fun. It is a good idea on occasion but I would not want a diet of that.

    I am not too vested in fasts of any kind. Food, music, etc.

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