I got a lot of responses about my last post, in many different ways: email, chat, Twitter, Facebook, and, shockingly, real life. I had no idea that the subject would resonate so strongly. There were suggestions to delete/deactivate my Facebook page. To remove “friends” from social networking sites. To take a break. And all of these are valid suggestions, and I’m thinking about all of them and how to apply them.
“Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others.” -Baha’u’llah
The media has been freaking out about privacy in social networking recently, but that isn’t my main concern, OTHER than the fact that most people who use social networks don’t know much about privacy. I try to be careful about what I share, although I am probably not careful enough!
In my quest to become more mindful of my time usage online, I discovered some things, positive & negative. I want to reiterate that I’m not hating on the internet, I’m merely trying to be more aware of my consumption.
1. I actually use Facebook to connect people and get information that assists me in my life. In the last week, I introduced a friend to some folks overseas, connected with a few old friends, found out about a free concert, used it to figure out if friends were still living in the cities that I thought they were in, and introduced people to each other. In other words, I spent more time acting as a small-scale connector than surfing mindlessly.
2. The glow of the screen at night is not helping me sleep, and it actually distracts me from reading! My former habit was to fall asleep to a good book. In the chaos of moving so much, I did not have a library card or any of my beloved books with me, and my book consumption dropped. I am still struggling to get back on track.
3. Being able to access other people’s lives so easily makes one susceptible to gossip & jealousy. It isn’t pretty.
4. I do not like it when people pull out a smartphone or laptop at a party, dinner, or even a casual social event, and start texting, chatting, checking scores, whatever. Stop. I stopped getting Twitter updates on my phone because the constant distraction was driving me (and my friends) crazy. Whatever is happening on the internet or your phone is not more important than the people in front of you. (I am sure I am guilty of some of this, and I’m working on it!)
5. Ramin gave me a great tip the other day: change your Facebook bookmark on your browser to go straight to your profile page. My unthinking clicking doesn’t pull me into the newsfeed. It has worked really well.
6. My real life has been so busy that I’ve not had much of a chance to process photos. I’m about 250 photos behind right now, which is a lot for me and I’m struggling to catch up. Honestly, it does not feel like a burden, which tells me that this is one of those parts of my technological life that makes me happy. I just wish I had more technical know-how!
Last night I rode my bike, went to the antique shop and chatted with the owner, got some books at the library, and spent the rest of the evening baking cookies and reading. I highly recommend this sort of evening once in a while.
What is my action plan now? I’ve reduced consumption of Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds. I try not to have my computer open in the evening. Things are not usually so urgent that I can’t leave it for a little while. My emails are being horribly neglected, but I am attempting a systematic response system. There is only so much time in a day. I would rather concentrate my energies on better things.
“Ours is the duty to fix our gaze with undeviating attention on the duties and responsibilities confronting us at this present hour, to concentrate our resources, both material and spiritual, on the tasks that lie immediately ahead, to insure that no time is wasted, that no opportunity is missed, that no obligation is evaded, that no task is halfheartedly performed, that no decision is procrastinated. The task summoning us to a challenge, unprecedented in its gravity and force, is too vast and sacred, the time too short, the hour too perilous, the workers too few, the call too insistent, the resources too inadequate, for us to allow these precious and fleeting hours to slip from our grasp, and to suffer the prizes within our reach to be endangered or forfeited.” -Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 101