Less Online, More in Life

Here we are at Hard Truths. Why don’t we take it from the top?

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1. I spend an alarming amount of time on social media. I mean alarming. Alarming like if you asked me for specifics, I would outright lie. Or justify, quickly: I’m a blogger. It’s sort of what I do. 

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Or, more honestly: I just moved across the country, I have no job and no friends, and if I didn’t have Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, this morning’s thank-you-for-your-payment from Comcast would have been this month’s most sizzling social interaction.

2. Facebook (and/or Instagram) has begun to feel like the city where everybody is. This is absurd, of course. But…I’m serious.

3. As it is: I feel 3,000 miles away and 3 hours behind. As it turns out: this makes living in the present difficult.

4. Does flipping through my friends’ feeds really make me feel less alone? Any less lonely?

5. Does putting up a status or posting a picture really make me feel better? Or does it make me feel super self-conscious. And anxious that no one will like it.

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6. When did zero likes (or not enough to get to numbers, on Instagram) start to sting the same way a real-life rejection would?

7. Social media is fueling (and/or inflating) my sense of inadequacy. Oh look, somebody got promoted. Oh look, somebody got married. Oh look, somebody had a baby. Oh look, somebody had a party. Oh look, somebody has 6,000 people that love them, clap for them.

8. The connections I’m making — think I’m making, hope I’m making? They aren’t really real. And the energy I’ve been spending on them? Drains directly from the energy I could be using to make more of an effort to look like I actually want someone to talk to me. In real life.

Case in point: I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop, scowling at my computer screen. Most likely doing a very good job of looking like I will bite your head off, if you interrupt me.

And yesterday? When I was hiking? I wonder what I would have missed, had I not decided to turn my phone off.

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9. Maybe it was when I was alone in NYC, maybe it was when I was alone in Maine, maybe it was not until I was really and truly ALONE in Oregon — but somewhere along the way, I started using the Internet as a filler. A filler for the things I want, for the things I’m missing.

10. I sleep better when I turn my phone off at night. I’ve started using a little old-fashioned alarm clock, and I LOVE it. It doesn’t play music, it doesn’t charge anything, it doesn’t glow in the dark. It doesn’t do anything except tell the time.

11. I am a better person when I am less distracted. A better friend, a better daughter, a better writer, a better cook.

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12. I notice when I lose a follower on Instagram. I actually notice. And it hurts my feelings! What did I do, post too many pictures of nature for you? Also: I get discouraged when I look at the big-time bloggers, when I think about how many people they’re reaching. I forget to be grateful for the hundreds that come here.

13. The social-media equivalent of a shared experience pales in comparison to the real thing. It is like taking something so phenomenally beautiful that you can’t do much except breathe, and ruining it completely by trying to be artsy and put it in black and white.

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No more living-in-color. No more sounds. No more smells.

14. Sometimes (lately), I have to ask myself if I am doing things for the picture. Am I going to this place because the view is supposed to be fabulous? Am I going to this restaurant because Food & Wine told me I should?

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15. The obvious answer would be to stop, then. Just stop. Stop looking for quotes, just-the-right-ones, on Tumblr. Stop pinning recipes (I will never make) on Pinterest. Stop storytelling my life, my not-very-happy life, on Instagram.

Or I could just slow it down, for a while. Take a week off Instagram. Put Pinterest away for a month. Forget about Facebook. The Internet would carry on without me, I’m sure.

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But it’s not quite that easy. Not quite that simple. Because if I stop doing those things, I feel like I will have to stop blogging, too. The quotes, the recipes, the kitchen stories, the photos — they all inspire me to write.

And then I have to think about why I write. Why I blog. Why I started blogging in the first place. I have to ask myself if those reasons still feel genuine and good.

And then I have to think about other things, things I want to think about even less. Like why I don’t feel wildly enthused by the thought of writing just for me. If writing is my dream. If writing really is just something I love to do, have to do.

I have to think about what else I could do to make peace with everything bouncing around my brain. Especially while I’m trying to get better — I have to think about that. And then I have to think about what else could I do, to feel a little less all-alone-in-the-world. And how on earth I will fill my days, if I’m not on the computer for half of them.

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“I wrapped my hands around the coffee. The warmth felt good. The next table over there was a girl with blue hair leaning over a notebook and chewing on a ballpoint pen, and at the table next to her was a little boy in a soccer uniform sitting with his mother who told him, The plural of elf is elves. A wave of happiness came over me. It felt giddy to be part of it all. To be drinking a cup of coffee like a normal person. I wanted to shout out: The plural of elf is elves! What a language! What a world!” -Nicole Kraus

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4 thoughts on “Less Online, More in Life

  1. this post hit home. your writing is so authentic… no fluff and I dig it. Sometimes I get so tried and having my iphone attached to me at all times I actually feel the rage to throw it against a wall. I’ve lived without a phone and internet while traveling… I’ve given up facebook and stopped blogging and it took getting used to. But living in the present felt so much better than living glued to a screen. That being said, I’m back on all social media, back to blogging… and I constantly am asking myself, what is it all for?

    • Aww, thanks for commenting Leslie. I admire you for giving it a try. I want to, too. What did you miss most about it, during your time away?

      I have a feeling it would be hard for me at first (this sounds so pathetic but I’m 80% sure I’m actually addicted), but then really freeing. I feel like I might be A LOT happier in the long run. At the same time, it’s hard to give up, because I’ve made a lot of real-life friends through the blog. So I’ve been holding onto that hope! And I’m pretty shy, so writing has always sort of always been my first way of reaching out. Probably time to work on that…

  2. Hannah, I hope that you enjoy your time away from a life plugged in, and that many of your days are filled with beauty and peace. Portland is an amazing place to enjoy the great outdoors and reflect with what matters most. Your writing touches so many, thanks for sharing.

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