Pulling the plug

I have written before about my ongoing battle with spending too much time online. Due to the nature of my professional work, its hard to completely not be online since email is a far more efficient means of communicating and heaven forbid the week I stop checking email could be the week I miss an important message.

However as my daily routine has gone from checking in with a few discussion boards, checking email and reading the paper to checking my Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blogs (as well as writing this one) and a few more online haunts I find myself going STOP! Seriously, I find myself wasting hours just being online and lately I am wondering what is the value to any of it.

Yeah, Facebook has put me in touch with old buddies from my previous life but at the same time I find myself thinking maybe they were in the past for a reason? I have well over a hundred “friends” on Facebook but aside from family members (only 3 I believe) how many of these folks are truly friends? There are probably about 20 or so that I communicate with outside of Facebook so that leaves as awful lot of folks that aren’t really friends but more like acquaintances if that. Once upon a time, it would have seemed strange to share photos of family and details about ones life with a mere acquaintance but now thanks to Facebook, we and that includes myself have started sharing all sorts of details about ourselves with folks we really don’t know. I don’t know about you but the more I think about that, it seems well…strange.

Why do we and again I include myself feel the need to share with folks the most mundane shit in our lives? Part of it I know is that I have a shortage of real life buddies in part because of my move here to Maine seven years ago. The other part is that many of my real life friends and I include myself have moved from a time where we talked on the phone to just talking online. I don’t know but it bugs me and I am thinking its time for a change.

I was recently looking at my friends list and thinking how many of these folks could I call if I were in a jam? Um…..I really don’t know. The fact that I can’t really answer that question has made me think that maybe I have reached a time where its time to seriously think about downsizing my online life.

Its no wonder that folks speak of Facebook as having addictive qualities, after all its so easy to get sucked into thinking you are having real relationships with your “friends” but are you? The answer is in many cases no, you are exchanging information but these “friends” are not friends in most instances.

I am reminded of the year of my mother’s illness and later death, this was 5 years ago before we became Facebook, Twittering fools. I was involved in a few discussion boards but at the end of the day, when I was breaking down and losing it, it was my real life friends I called. Now I only had two folks I really leaned on aside from the Spousal Unit during that time and both friends were back in the Midwest but I could call them at midnight as I did one night and talk, cry and scream on the phone for three hours and you know what? They were there for me. My oldest friend I have known since the 4th grade and when my Mom died, she made the 6 hour drive from her house in Minnesota with a newborn to be at my Mom’s memorial service.

I remember thinking she wouldn’t make it, yet I turned around in the church and saw her coming in with her Mom, husband and newborn baby girl. Let me tell you her presence got me through what was truly the worse day of my life. Later the next day she stayed on to come and take me out for breakfast before hitting the road, she left her breastfed baby for 3 hours to hang with me, to sit in a coffee shop while I chain smoked and lost it.

Can I say that now that I have been a breastfeeding Mama, that what she did for me in the name of friendship was huge…that woman is my sister just as if we had been born of the same mama. When I think of this, while it was a shitty time in my life I am reminded of what friendship is all about.

Casual comments and virtual hugs while sweet don’t make a relationship and to think so speaks of how fractured we have become as a society.

In light of thinking on this issue, I have decided the time has come to start pulling some plugs. I like blogging, I like being able to just write without thinking deeply about it. It can be cathartic, so blogging stays. However many of the discussion boards, gotta go…how many times can one discuss parenting? Facebook is nice but I think daily status updates are well, just not needed, same for Twitter.

The plan is to get my online time down to one hour a day, I don’t even want to tell you how much time I spend online at the moment. I will just say that I could read more books if I got off the fucking computer. I also want to enjoy more time outside alone or with the family and right now that is not happening, so time to pull some plugs.

That said, should you swing by here and see that my posting is a little more sporadic, it just means I am out enjoying the world.