Tag Archives: social media burn-out

What I’ve Gained by Quitting 6 — Final Entry: Svasanahhhh…

Standard

Holy S. I just wrote this entire post thinking I had one more week to go. I don’t – I have two more weeks to go. What blessed relief! It just goes to show how ambivalent I still am about this whole thing…

Well, this is it. I have one week to go until I can return to Facebook. I plan to spend the majority of this time completely offline save for writing any blog posts here and editing my book. Here’s my first post about it all.

I’ve made some significant inroads regarding my vulnerabilities and insecurities on social media over the last few weeks and I have to say that while I’m looking forward to “seeing” my friends again, I am not looking forward to the nagging tugs and quiet thoughts that I’m not ____ enough or ____ enough or ____ enough; the kind of “stinkin’ thinkin'” that social media engenders.

I see these final days as a last-ditch effort to retain my sanity, my hold on the lessons. Like the final pose in yoga, “svasana” (“corpse pose”) it’s the glue that will seal the lessons into my psyche.

I feel not a little unlike the character “Brooks” from the fantastical “Shawshank Redemption“; he had a hard time adjusting to freedom from living an institutional life in a corruptly managed federal prison; ultimately, it was too difficult for him and he hung himself. That outcome is nowhere near where I am emotionally, but I do have this to say: there is freedom in restrictions. If you feel you can’t trust don’t regard yourself enough to set boundaries, the boundaries imposed under the tenets and auspices of a religious experience will certainly bring you comfort.

I saw my Lenten experience akin to mom calling me in from my dubious awesome friends outside my house late at night. I didn’t want to stay with them, but I didn’t want to be a nerd, so when she called me in, I rolled my eyes to my friends, and sighed relief as I crossed my house’s threshold.

I’ve been reading Brené Brown‘s book, Daring Greatly the past few days and it’s tremendous. I am hopeful that I will finish it this week, it being my verbal svasana to help me keep my bearings when I return to Facebook. She is my hero.

Look, I know this might sound hokey or super ego-obsessed / deep or freaking ridiculous to some of you. To others, it might not sound quite so ridiculous. I am 45 — I am not part of this super-de-duper Internet generation.

I am again, the ham and cheese in the digital sandwich. I’ve got my kids who know everything there is to know about the Internet (and mostly more than I’d like) and then I’ve got my parents, my mother mostly, who can’t believe that you can read a message that one computer sends to another computer within a second’s time (in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I’m certain that she believes there are little faeries and leprechauns making all these things happen, as her own mother could only describe events such as transistor radios and light bulbs). And let’s not even talk about smartphones. I said “transistor radio” in the preceding sentence.

So I hang on to those romantic and slightly insane notions of magic when it comes to this whole “social media as life experience” thing. I waver between feeling it really isn’t for me and “holy cow did you know there’s an app called Fanhattan that collects all the latest movie info (old or new film) and tells you where to find it to view it — across all platforms?!” This is me. This is my sandwich. Make your own. Pickle spears are in the fridge.

As feverishly and as desperately as I grasp the reins of those galloping horses of the publishing apocalypse, I will maintain, 100% that I don’t need to be totally online to be successful. Why? Because I have my own measurements for success and I have determined that I really don’t give a shit about anyone else’s scale. Nyah. But I’m not defensive about it, I swear. I’m not. See? Really. 

I’ve dallied with ideas: What if F. Scott Fitzgerald blogged? Would he sound like I do? Worried, scared about my talent, woeful about his prospects? Unable to hobnob with the great unwashed, the hoi polloi (even though is was hoi polloi and it IS the hoi polloi which bring richness to our lives? — how many more times can I type ‘hoi polloi’?) and utterly distracted about the point of it all, losing his focus because he concentrated more on the act of hob nobbing than the act of writing? I think this: if FSF were here now and online, Zelda would be his Courtney Love.

People say “balance” – one of my favorite social media writers, the inimitable Kristen Lamb, says we can do it all. But what if you hail from an unbalanced, dysfunctional family where addiction was also an addiction? It’s hard. I know part of Kristen’s story, she has shared it on her site from time-to-time, and she has been gracious to me in very small yet dense ways (which I’m sure she must identify with herself) that keep me going, keep me focused on the Big Picture.

And I’m certainly not some social media Galileo; I just know that it’s likely that instead of looking for answers to my achievements and value in an online presence I should likely be considering my presence more in the stars and on the earth.

this was the weather last week at the boathouse when i trained for launch driving. gorgeous?

this was the weather last week at the boathouse when i trained for launch driving. gorgeous?

I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in an email discussion with a dear friend about all this. She and I have shared so many similar appreciations of the situation: she gets it. In one of our exchanges she went deep, super-vulnerable and stated beautifully how Facebook, social media and all the rest are never-ending and how it never satisfies. I replied with my thoughts:

There are no boundaries, so it creates a self-fulfilling vortex of need for more likes, more appreciation, more “go viral” desires and the rest. It’s sick and it’s intentional. Remember, and I say this in all my Facebook-relevant posts: it was created on the steam of vengeance from rejection. It is driven by greed. Even Facebook isn’t big enough for Facebook; they want more of us, more of our time, more of our money, more ad revenue. Do you think for one minute that if they allowed us to pay for a year without the ads that they’d do it? NEVER.

I can’t write about this subject anymore. I can’t do it to you, and I can’t do it to me; it’s become what I feared most: its own thing. And like Facebook, it is never-ending, a vortex of conceit. I suspected that would happen last week, by then raising the specter of it was a formality — it was already looming: like the moon. It just needed to show itself. If you’ve been following me on this “journey” (I am beginning to REALLY hate that word by the way), you have likely winced or nodded when I’ve stated various things about myself. I have nothing to hide.

murph

My beautiful boy, Murphy, has been my loyal companion through all my missives, screeds and posts about Facebook. He has lain in “our” office as I type. Right now, he rests behind me and he reminds me of that fantastic painting by Wyeth of the labrador on the bed.

So what have I learned in all of this? That I’m alright without Facebook. That I’m just like anyone else. That social media is fun, but it’s totally optional. I’ve picked up more blog fans than I ever have since Lent began: 19. This is nice affirmation that I’m on the right track. To wit, I’ve joined a local writer’s group and I’m connected with a real-life critique partner. She will send me her stuff and I will send her mine. We met in the most fractious of ways, but our relationship is proof that good things can be born of chaos.

As I consider him at this moment, Murphy grounds me. He will be my gentle reminder with a snuffle or a collar jingle or a leg adjustment, to get offline. I just wish he’d sleep away from the door because we use it. I feel guilty asking him to move.

Thank you.

ps – as I reflect on the fact that I’ve got two weeks left, I don’t think my mistake wasn’t a mistake. I think now that I can release all this “stuff” and not think about it anymore. I’ve got two weeks to go, but really: i’m tired of “discovering” things about it all. 

Balancing Act

Standard

this is me doing a headstand. i have been practicing yoga for years. this is just one of the many random things you’ll catch me doing because i can. and yes, this requires balance. it’s the balance on the grid i can’t manage so well.

I’ve always been honest with you.  I am having a hard time balancing myself on the whole social media thing.

I recently returned from 10 days of being off the grid and it was like food for my soul. This vacation came on the heels of writing furiously for “Camp NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month) and almost maniacally for a month straight. During that month, I also managed to write blog posts, almost as a treat to myself to change the tempo, write about some real things and simply get things off my mind. A couple posts were well, totally and completely random.

During NaNo Camp, when I wrote, I wrote about 6k words a day and I never let up the intensity of what I was doing.  I holed myself in my office for several hours and played music to evoke the proper mood and tone.  I said a prayer to my muse and to God asking for guidance and support and clarity.  I requested that I stay on task and that I do what is good and honorable.  On my final day, I wrote 4k words in less than two hours and even I was surprised by how the novel ended.  Oh, and I put on about five pounds and I kept at the writing.  I was told by someone that what I was doing was pointless.

The vacation was right on time.  I loved being off the grid.  As much as I enjoy the online experience, I always enjoy, and prefer seeing and touching and employing all my five senses in the actual experience of being with the people I know (I don’t taste/eat them, I eat with them, and the smelling sense is passive… my olfactory system picks up the people… admit it: yours does too).

On my personal Facebook page, I have the luxury of being in real-life contact with a great majority of the “friends” I have and I always enjoy our real contact.

After vacation, I didn’t go online for almost two more days because I knew that once I did log on, it would be for a while.

So when I did go online, I was online for a long time.  Even though I logged off, I would log back in.  I started a post about what I learned on vacation that started out as very heavy and heady.  On my way back from picking up my son from tennis camp, I realized that I needed to lighten up that post.  So I wrote the humorous post that I did publish about what I learned while on vacation.

But my need for outreach didn’t end there: after I posted, I stayed online to check my stats for visits to the page.  I’m admitting a lot here, and it’s hard to say because it’s akin to a neurosis… not an addiction, but a weirdness in that I would like to be validated through the online world and hear me now: if my kids or my best friend told me what I am telling me (and you) right now, I’d tell them to not bother.  To let it go.  To see their value in themselves and that their basis of “appreciation” or “validation” was extrinsic and completely out of whack and that the amount of “hits” or “reads” or “fans” has nothing to do with their essential value, talents or gifts in this tangible world we have been granted a finite time to live in.

I can rationalize this all I want and say my interest for “outreach” is because of my professional public relations grooming, to see if I “nailed it” when I posted.  Or I can chalk it up to my BA in Writing.  Or I can claim it’s because I’m a social animal (which I am: but I realize that I recharge from actual human contact), or that I’m just genetically inclined to Write.  But Writing is not necessarily or actually at all: the same as Being Online.

But I didn’t say to myself what I’d say to my kids or friends.  I checked to see if people “liked” the post on Facebook.  I went on my Grass Oil fan page on Facebook to see if anyone shared it.  This neediness went on for about an hour and I’m not excited to admit it.

Blog stats … I saw myself saying, “just one more check for hits and then I’ll shut down…” and when I heard myself say it outloud, that is when I finally shut down.
I have wondered about this interest of mine for a while and I think the only way to shut it down is to become hypervigilant and beat it.

So I see a crossroads: the intersection of my online experience impinging on my real, tangible, off-the-grid life and vice versa.  Am I alone in this? Does anyone else have this concern?  Is it time management? Yes, obviously.  Set a timer? Sure… I just have to remember to do that.  Hyper vigilant. I also can’t use my writing as an excuse to be online.  I wonder: if I treat the writing as a “job” then will I be better about my time management?  But then I have another conflict with authenticity… it’s not a “job”; it’s an interest.  A job earns income.  In the final analysis, I see that what I’m dealing with is a value issue. And very likely a dopamine response…

.  .  .

I am realizing that the online thing is more than a balancing act for me, it’s almost an identity concern, in that I am having a need to see myself validated through the online experience.  I won’t say “crisis” because I think that word, the fact that it even exists, is bullshit.  We create our own crises; issues don’t suddenly become a crisis.  It’s because we ignore things that allows the “crisis” label to be exploited and then all shit hits the fan.

Energy crisis.

Crisis of faith.

Political crisis.

Healthcare crisis.

Diabetes crisis.

Debt crisis.

All this stuff is always brewing, we just decide to play backgammon instead.

What I’m dealing with is a “concern” (and I’m not using my PR background spin machine to rationalize it); but I will say this: the nanosecond the social media experiences I am concerned with become a crisis is the day I’m offline for a year.  And sipping mai tais on Oahu…

And if you ever hear me refer to my flesh and bone friends as “my IRL friends,” I want you to point at me and laugh heartily. (I learned about 4 months ago from someone I overheard that “IRL” stands for “in real life”) … I don’t operate in that world. All my life is real. I might squander it, but make no mistake: everything I do has a consequence.

.  .  .

I am a Writer. I have finally enabled myself to say this.  Just giving myself permission to allow myself to think about being capable and prepared to admit it was like, y’know, like HUGE, man.  And I’m good with it.  I have another thing to help explain myself.

That said, I’m not a marketer, a spin master, a social networking maven nor am I terribly interested in garnering massive amounts of attention.  I just wanna write and create and move on.  Is that so bad? So, that’s part of my concern.  But then the trappings of “value” come back in to play.  If I didn’t care about what people thought, why would I share it?  This is deep stuff, it’s sorta circular. For me, I will consider it until I don’t anymore.

Value.  Success.

Success.  How does one (and this is a personal determination, which is why I like it) define success?  What makes you successful?

Let’s define “successful” first:

successful |səkˈsesfəl|

adjective

accomplishing an aim or purpose : a successful attack on the town.

• having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction : a successful actor.

I like the first notion; the one about accomplishing an aim (I’m not terribly fond of the example they gave).  I did that with “Camp NaNoWriMo.”  I met the goal and now I have a bona fide “WIP” (work in progress), which I am farming out to few interested readers (a*hem) for their feedback.

What’s my goal with this tome?  I would like to say, well: to share it.  To publish it and I dunno, sell it? Sure! Why not? I’m game.

(I mean, why does a woman get pregnant? Surely not to stay pregnant… she does it to have a child, raise the child, educate the child and then be able to lean on that child during her golden years, providing she was good to her child.)

So I’ll work to sell the book.  Ok.  That’s a “job.”  But here’s where I get stuck: I feel that the first notion’s contingency on the second notion: “having achieved popularity, profit or distinction” sucks the wind out of the first notion’s sails.

That secondary notion is essentially taunting, “So what.”  Did Michaelangelo (and no, I’m not comparing myself to him, but then again, why not?) have to deal with that? I’ll have to read more about him.  Did anyone (besides a detractor or two) think he sucked?

It’s as if that secondary notion is waiting around a corner and trips that first notion, or shoves it in a locker, or puts its head in the toilet to give it a swirly, or reaches down into its pants and gives it a wedgie.  So the so-called quandary for me then is this: I distinctly hate, am loathe to, dislike and otherwise am annoyed by that bulleted, second notion of the definition.

For all creative types: musicians, artists, actors, painters, poets, writers, sculptors, mimes… That secondary notion is a bully and in the 21st century of social media, and to me: the work of self marketing, dealing with that bully doesn’t automatically help the first notion’s cause.  You can market yourself to the moon and back: tweet, tumbl, Pin, digg, LinkedIn, Facebook, Wiki and contort your eSelf into oblivion and your efforts could still be null.

And so now it’s my turn: “Now what, social media?”

I envy my hero F. Scott Fitzgerald: all he had to do was write and drink and vacation with his rich friends.  He didn’t have to sweat launching a fan page or a ham radio station.  Of course, there was his beloved Zelda to deal with, but I can be my own Zelda if the proper circumstances present themselves. Oh! What fun that would be!

I could do all the eMarketing possible and my book could still not be profitable. Does that mean that it is or I AM therefore “unsuccessful”?:

unsuccessful

adjective

1 an unsuccessful attempt: failed, ineffective, fruitless, profitless, unproductive, abortive; vain, futile, useless, pointless, worthless, luckless.

2 an unsuccessful business: unprofitable, loss-making.

3 an unsuccessful candidate: failed, losing, beaten; unlucky, out of luck; informal: losingest.

No. I am not a failure or the losingest. So the solution, as in many all of our life concerns, lies within.  I can reframe my relationship with social media and my identification with my “Work”: begin tweeting, go to Pinterest and all the rest or I can cut my jib, so to speak, and stay where I am: OK with Things as They Are… until they change.  That, my friends, is the rub.  No sense creating chaos in preparation for something that might not ever happen… And there’s all the sense in the world in just being OK with being OK.

I have determined thus (as I write): If I become annoyed that my online experience is seen as dominant over my tangible, breathing oxygen, using the bathroom, eating a sandwich, petting the dog, caressing my child world then it’s time to get the hell offline.  If I see that my tangible world impinges on my “enjoying” my online world, it’s time to get the hell offline.  The online world is a 24/7 experience.  Emails we write can be held onto for the next day, week or month or year.  The Machine makes us believe that we need to respond now – just because we are able to.  What I need to remember is that an ability does not equal a mandate.  A whiny bladder is a mandate, a child is a mandate, a dog that nudges is a mandate, a growling stomach is a mandate.  A hit on a blog is a nice to have; a fan on the page is a nice to have; a “like” on a blog is a nice to have; a reblog is a nice to have and they are good for the ego but they mustn’t define us.

Wow… I think I might’ve just sorted all that out.

Thank you.