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.