Saturday, March 12, 2016

Unplugging and Quieting the World, Part Two

Hello and welcome back to the show. I'm your host. :-P If you haven't read part one, you can check it out here. :)

Now, where was I...? Oh yes, unplugging from technology. First, I want to say that there's nothing wrong with being plugged in. Technology is great and can do a lot of good. However, some of us (yes, myself included) sometimes use it because we're bored or because we've become addicted. It's our go-to when we find ourselves not wanting silence. Let's face it, many of us just don't like silence and it's quite easy to get online and/or get distracted. 

I've personally experienced all I've written. I get bored easily if I have nothing stimulating my mind but the internet doesn't always provide stimulating content that will allow me to grow very much. It's more mind-numbing distractions than anything else. Sometimes we need a break from the chaos and the distractions online are great for that... but I think most of us tend to use it a bit too much. 

Do you older Millennials (and those over 35) remember what we used to do as kids when we got bored? I mean, besides watch TV? We used to draw, paint, write, play sports, go outside, etc. We had hobbies. We had more fulfilling friendships. Our creativity helped entertain us. I'm not saying that we should completely reject technology in favor of more simple things but why not try to find a balance so our life isn't just online?

Social media is wonderful to stay informed and keep in touch with others but it gives us a false sense of being connected to others. I could scroll down a friend's Facebook profile or Twitter feed and think I know what's going on with them but very few of us show every side of ourselves online. I know I'm personally guilty of trying to show only the positive side out of fear of what others may think of me. In a way, it's like, as one of my favorite vloggers recently said, we're performing. 

I'll be honest with y'all: I don't like who I am or how I feel when I'm online too much. Every time I take breaks from social media and/or from turning on my laptop and/or iPod touch, I feel a lot better. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and I can be who I am. Why? Because I feel constrained online. There's too much noise. There's too much negativity. It drains me spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and eventually physically. 

Sometimes I just want to share something that makes me feel good... and then it's met with negative comments or snide remarks. I know I'm sensitive and I'm trying to let everything roll off of me but sometimes it's just too much. When that happens, I get defensive when other comments are made, whether they are good or not, because I automatically feel as if I'm being attacked. I don't like that I get defensive online and that it remains with me offline for a while. I don't like the uncharitable comments it produces, on- and offline. Basically, I don't like how what happens online influences me offline. 

I remember life right before technology took over. It was right before I got my very first computer as a freshman in high school. I was one of the last in my class to get a computer (I had used a typewriter to do my homework up until then). With the introduction of email (one of the first emails I got was a former classmate telling me to kill myself) and then AIM (AOL instant messenger), the problems started. The anxiety -- which began my freshman year of high school -- got worse.

There's a lot of negativity online and I don't want to be a part of it. That's why staying offline as much as possible has appealed to me. God has opened my eyes and shown me that I've thrived better offline but that, in moderation, I can use social media and what is offered online to enrich my life. 

Without social media, I would've never met some of my best friends offline. Without social media and the internet, I don't think I would've gotten the courage to leave the terrible path I was on before my reversion. Without online resources, I wouldn't be learning as much as I can about Catholicism... nor would I be doing my Master's degree at an orthodox Catholic University. Without social media and websites, I wouldn't hear about the good, lovely stories that exist which I don't hear much of since the news tends to favor biased, disastrous, and fear-inducing stories.

So what does this all mean for me? It means keeping Twitter as is post-Lent with the occasional logging in to check DMs and share the odd link or random but positive tweet. I like how I have Facebook set up at the moment so I'm going to keep it as it -- choosing to check it only a couple of times per week. The blog stays as is, though I hope to write more often now that I am getting the time to do so. Everything I wrote yesterday -- the new rules for screen time -- will become the new norm. When I get bored, I'm going to try reading a book or doing something with limited technology. I don't expect it to be easy but nothing that is worthwhile is easy.  I've heard that it takes about 8 weeks for something to become a habit so I'll remind myself when I slip and/or feel discouraged.

One more thing before I end this post: does anyone remember how, a few months ago, I said that I had an issue with silence? How I hated silence and how I felt like I needed Gregorian chant to pray at times because of how much I couldn't stand the silence? I'm happy to report that this is no longer an issue. Since I've given up music on Tuesdays and Fridays during Lent (which I may keep after Lent), I've learned to be okay without music and/or noise in general. Listening to the birds singing, to the clock ticking, to the outside noise while everything is still indoors has been absolutely lovely. 

Side note: admitted, I failed the "no music" thing yesterday (Friday) when Mom started watching The Quebe Sisters and then Andrea Bocelli on PBS stations last night. I could've gotten up and walked out of the room but I didn't because I wanted to listen to the music and I made weakling excuses to stay. lol. But, in a way, it helped me remember that I'm doing this because I want to have more time in prayer and because I want to be more mindful about what I listen to. I still got my prayer time and the music I was listening to wasn't objectionable in content (at least, not that I was aware of) so it was failure with a valuable lesson. :)

Anyway, what I've just written is what works for me and this is not me shaming any of you for anything. If you disagree, that's okay.  If more time online works for you, keep at it but please be careful about what is shared. If something I've written makes you realize you need to make some changes, credit God for the transformation in me that has allowed me to help you since none of this could've been possible without His guidance. 

That's all from me for today. It's still early in the day so I want to get Casa Emmy cleaned, dishes washed, and my conscience examined before Mom gets off from work. I'm actually looking forward to all of this because I quite enjoy housekeeping. A lot. Anti-tradition feminists would hate me. lol. 

I hope y'all have a lovely rest of weekend! :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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