Digital Detox

Twitter_logo_blueI came upon this phrase this morning and instantly I knew I needed to write about it. If you read my previous blog, you’ll know I’m on a digital detour, or at least trying for one. In truth, despite my  moaning and groaning about being a digital diva in distress, I am not even able to master the two-thumbed smart phone input. The few times I’ve crafted a message this way, the person on the other end called to ask what I’d been drinking.

Anyway – the other day I told an old and dear friend that I had deactivated my Twitter account – not that I used it that much, really. Still, I was attempting to add some follows – I really focus on animal rights and rescue, news and inspirational type accounts – when they weren’t registering. Perplexed and pissed, a few moments of research later I discovered that once you hit the magic mark of following 2000, your account is locked from being able to follow anyone else. Other people can still follow you, but you can’t follow them. The rationale is to prevent spamming. The reality is I feel like a kid in a closet being punished for something I didn’t do.

Anyway, the bottom line – this 2000 follow limit is the catalyst for beginning my much needed digital detox plan. I shall now spend some quiet and snowy days culling through my technology maze in quest of a kinder and gentler place.

Thank you, Twitter.

Loss of Relationship?

100_0263“Social media complicates interpersonal relationships in that it can seduce the user into thinking that online and in-person communication are the same.”  

I came across this quote in my e-travels this afternoon and it stopped me dead in my tracks. It was like I was looking into the mirror of my own psyche, a psyche that has been wrestling with the meaning of social media and how it does/doesn’t, should/shouldn’t fit into my life and into the fabric of our society.

Let me first get one thing on the table. I use social media. I have Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Pinterest and Goodreads accounts. I probably have more I’m not remembering.   Let me get another thing out : I get lost in social media – often. And when I do, I hate myself. I hate myself because instead of learning and enriching myself, I’m off on some bunny trail, wasting time, seeing who did what to whom, and fooling myself into believing ‘this’ is the real world.

Is social media a bad thing?  I don’t like generalizations, but I have concerns. Many. Take Facebook: A study performed by German researchers earlier this year found users engage in ‘rampant envy’ on what the researchers called ‘an unprecedented platform for social comparison.’

Other studies blame Facebook for causing depression in those who see themselves on the sidelines of Disneyesque worlds portrayed in posts and pictures of people who are surely richer, happier and more beautiful. Ironically, many of these richer, happier and more beautiful types have reserved their own sideline views where the proverbial parade also passes them by.

Yes, I am a social networker. No, I don’t like it. I feel dehumanized and yes, I admit to twinges of envy now and again. It makes me tense and stressed.  It is a Mecca for braggarts, bullies, and scammers.

So why do I continue to use social networking? I do it because I teach business communication and social networking is ‘the’ place to be to connect with colleagues, customers and employees. I need to talk about and demonstrate it and its positive uses to improve business communications. Ironically, it does do that – improve business communication in many ways. In these classes, we talk about the ethics, integrity and positive uses of social networking. We also talk about productivity and business sense and the ludicrousness of having 1500 Facebook friends or over 100,000 Twitter followers.

There is a difference here, and that, I think, is that we have not put social networking in the personal pigeonhole into which it belongs. In business it is a place to visit, a tool to use and a means to an end. On the other hand, in personal realms, it has taken on a life of its own, a life that threatens to swallow many with falsehoods, fiction and fabrication.

The Natural Look

102_0717 (2)I’ve always been sort of a ‘natural look’ girl. I’ve never worn much makeup, love the comfort of sweats, and dirty jeans, and keep my hair cut short so I can wash, fluff and go. In fact, nature has always been very precious to me and intrinsic to my sanity.  As I age, this is even more so. Little by little I toss aside, give away, or sell on eBay ( my newly acquired hobby) all those clothes and items that cluttered closets, cupboards and coffee table.  As I remove layer after layer of ‘stuff’ I quite literally feel lighter of spirit and even of body!

In this same vein, this year I did the unthinkable. I gave away all my glitzy, shiny, bright and bold Christmas decorations to my 28-year-old daughter, albeit with the caveat that she hold them precious to her heart and hearth until it is time to someday pass on the gauntlet to one of her own. But my time with them was done.

I still have great spirit for the holidays, but not in the same way. Along with my new need to102_0720 (2) simplify my nest comes a passion to decorate it with the sights, sounds, and smells of the passing seasons. In spring it’s crocuses and cracked robins’ eggs, in summer it’s a tableau of rocks and potted herbs, in fall it’s a medley of late summer veggies. To celebrate the solstice and Christmas –my Boston Terrier Brinkley and I went hiking through snowy winter woods to find berries, dead and dramatic swamp grass, and plenty of pine from which I then crafted several arrangements. Martha Stewart I shall never be, but the joy of finding and making ‘real’ decorations from nature’s bounty far outweighs making the pages of Real Simple.

Nick DiChario

Reader, writer, life-long mistake-maker

Judith Shenouda

Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications

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