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.)
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.