Monday, February 9, 2009

Are You Experiencing Life Digitally or Physically? Is It Time To Disconnect?

I thought this would be an interesting post. When you're done reading, post a comment to let me know what you think. Computers and cell phones have given us fast and easy access to the world. I have two websites, a blog, several email accounts, and I'm on Facebook. Where do I get the time to update and read all of these wonderful digital outlets? Just like you, I make the time. That means other things go by the wayside. They must. Time, at least for the purpose of your years on this earth this time around, is finite.

Just two years ago, I spent 8 months traveling the Atlantic and Caribbean on a small sailboat with my husband, cat, and dog. Our cell phone didn't work at all. We only got internet when we were lucky enough to pull into a port that had it. Often, the connection wasn't great or we had to pay for it, so our time online was short and prioritized. We used the internet as a tool for keeping in touch with our families mostly. We definitely did not use the internet as a form of recreation, which is what I find myself doing a lot these days. Youtube, Hulu, news, rss feeds, other blogs and websites... It's all so interesting. But is it enriching me as a person or just turning me into a glob on my chair, sitting still most of the time?

I think some of it definitely enriches me as a person. I read a lot of thought provoking, mind expanding material. I am intellectually and sometimes socially fulfilled from my internet meanderings. But there are aspects of my life that suffer if I don't limit my time online. Emotionally, the internet is no replacement for face to face communication and relationships. Also, physically, the internet will cause the body to stagnate and deteriorate. Our bodies are amazing machines, but they must move to stay healthy. I guess television has a similar effect, but I must be immune to the boob tube. It just does not hold my attention for longer than a couple of hours a week, and I'm totally fine without it all together. The internet is another story. I have to set limits and rules for myself.

I prioritize by checking email twice a day only. That has been pretty hard, but it does free up my time not to constantly check. Same with Facebook. I check once a day, usually in the morning. I have to limit my time on Facebook to 30 minutes. It's enough. I don't spend any time on the website I started 5 years ago, , because now I use this blog for updates. My other website is a work in progress and I consider it a second job because I hope to earn a living from it someday. I work on it as much as possible.

As for this blog, I try to update once or twice a week, more if I have something important to say. Since I've given myself license to be online at all times possible to work on my new website, I have to commit to exercising for 30 minutes (at least) a day and make myself do it. This is harder than it sounds. As a writer, once I get into the groove and the content is flowing from my brain through my hands on the keyboard and into the the computer... well, I don't want to interrupt that flow. I could lose my train of thought, my focus.

It is for this reason that I don't get off my ass and keep my commitment to exercise daily. I'm still working on this. Another thing is that I have to be conscious of not letting my personal relationships slide and even my housekeeping! When you work online, it's easy to get sidetracked. In any case, we all need balance. And I think many of us are spending more time online than ever before. I think we can all benefit from the wealth of knowledge and easy communication that is at our fingertips, but I hope we're devoting enough time for our "real" life too. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that. I was reminded this morning when I noticed one of my friends had disappeared from Facebook. I emailed him to see what happened and he explained that he was voluntarily disconnecting, (perhaps temporarily or maybe permanently), from many of his online social outlets for various reasons. And that was the impetus for this post... thanks, ML.


  1. Great points. There is so much available to us today. And, these resources can certainly disconnect us from "living". I have an endless amount of energy, it seems, so I'm able to fit it all in, with some degree of success, I think. But, I have to make concious effort to close the laptop when kids and Blake are around.

    One huge effort I try to make is through snail mail, sending packages, etc. It's a lost art, sadly, to sit down and write a thank-you note or a card "just because". Receiving something in the mail seems so much more personal to me.

  2. Casey, funny you should say that, because as I was writing about the challenges of keeping a balance in our lives, I was actually thinking that you were one of the few (perhaps even the only) that I know who does it so well

  3. Jeannette! That is the sweetest compliment! We try.....though we fail at times. Blake has emailed me across the room before. :) It was a joke, but still! We were both on our laptops and he did it. A subtle reminder....

  4. I must admit that I too "waste" time on the internet. Of course its no one fault but my own, and like you I have to set limits for myself. Like your friend I'm getting sick of Facebook, and even Craigslist sucks me in for way longer then I plan. So I guess the only thing to do is watch your habits, coz the internet is soooo awesome! So... everything in moderation... including moderation;)

  5. Hi Jeannette!

    I don't spend much of my spare time at home on the computer, but only because I sit in front of one all day working intensely. I have a little bit of an issue with tv. I can leave it, no problem. But if it's around me I take it, and take it. Hooked on a few shows right now. And I love DIY shows for the information.

    I'm making an HDTV antenna this weekend so I can drop my basic Directv package-ween myself off of it. I can't merit spending money on tv, when it could mean a day of sailing someplace beautiful down the road. It's hard though, especially considering how hectic life tends to be on a daily basis. Sometimes I just want to sit and stare at someone else's life, if that makes sense. But, like you, I feel the internet and tv are mostly keeping me from things I should be doing.

    How about this, tonight, as I ride my trainer for exercise, I'll be watching television, cause it's hard to read on the bike, and the trainer is so boring you need something. Anyway, I should get bonus points for getting a workout in, even if I'm still wasting my mind. :D

    A very thought-provoking post. Thanks you for that. :)

    Cheers from your home state,

    PS. How many gallons of epoxy do you think you and Brian have used repairing your boat(s)? Travis and Maggie are at 5 gal. I'm at about 2.5 gal. I bet you guys can beat that! :D

  6. Hey Karen,
    that 4, 5 gal., so that makes 20 gal. of epoxy total. For now!

  7. Travis & Maggie, and Karen,

    Jeannette and I were trying to think of all the projects with epoxy, and well I think we kinda lost track over the years. I do remember the blister job on the bottom used a lot, a couple gallons right there. And so many other projects just need a pump here, a pump there, then the cans get so nasty and sticky, gee- who knows how much, all I know is we always have those gooey cans and pumps around, and if not we buy more right away.