Just a random stream of babble

I am on vacation, of course being short of cash my vacation involves sitting in my house though I may spend a few days in western Maine chilling with friends..So now that I am on vacation and still have a few days of childcare before girl child leaves daycare (by the way she is officially mad about this) it means I have time to let my mind wander which brings me to the point of today’s post.

Like many others I enjoy using Facebook, one might say I like it too much, shit I check Facebook from my Blackberry since I like to stay connected (I am working on pulling the plug) anyway I have noticed a disturbing trend, folks get really mad on Facebook. I may have mentioned it before (see I am getting old, can’t even remember what I wrote!) someone posts a seemingly innocent comment or link to a news story, well as you know it shows up in your friends feed, and humans being what they are, they respond. Are you still with me? Well some folks get mad because their “friends” post replies that bug them or their friends post updates that annoy them or even trouble them. I have recently seen shared “friends” engage in serious arguments/debates on Facebook, one woman I know has taken to proselytizing to another “friend” who is a devout pagan. Um…what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Look, the only reason I like Facebook as much as I do is it makes it easier to stay in touch with folks, I can upload pictures instead of sending a ton of emails or getting on the phone. Granted I do like getting on the phone but its not always easy, shit, I am mad that one of my two best friends is a Facebook holdout, he refuses to join, says its not his thing. People complain when their parents join and crimp their style…I wish my Papa would join, that way he could get regular pics of the family since he is such a Luddite that he doesn’t even own a computer and only uses one at work.

Anyway back to my rant or maybe its not a rant but an observation of someone who is starting to recognize that they are getting older, but life is too short to get pissed that a “friend” has political views that are not the same as mine. Unless this friend is a member of Steven Anderson’s church in Tempe, AZ which in that case there would be such a gulf I really might find it hard to stay calm but even then I believe in respecting folks and their differences. I got a few real life buddies who lately have taken to sending me right wing propaganda via email, I don’t get mad I hit delete. Occasionally I make a status update on Facebook that lets those folks know I got their emails but that I don’t agree and I leave it at that…but to start actual arguments over what we say on something like facebook is ridiculous.

It reminds me of the video I have seen a few times about how to not let facebook ruin your relationships, its the video with the predominantly Black cast and a woman yelling you been poking her all day and the guy whining about how his lady love doesn’t post on his wall.

Technology should enhance our lives and the moment it stops doing that is a point at which we should reevaluate our relationship…as for me, I am going to enjoy this last blast of summer here in Maine. So catch ya in a few days.

Unplugging for connection

A while back I wrote about my marriage and how I wasn’t feeling as connected to the Spousal Unit as I would like…sorry I am too tired to link to that post. Anyway since the time I wrote that post, things have gotten a tad better. No, the Spousal Unit did not suddenly grow a luxurious head of hair, his beard is still flecked with gray and he still has a bit of a pot belly though he is working on not snacking as much. I can’t even say our money woes have suddenly gone away.  Though the Spousal Unit has gotten some clarity around his mid life crisis as it relate to his career and is heading in the right direction.

So what did change? Well as of lately I have decided to unplug a bit from the internet. See, I spend a lot of time online, in part I am on my computer a lot because of work but truthfully over the past few months (really longer than that) I have started using the internet as an avoidance tool. Its much easier to read blogs and read about other folks seemingly perfect lives, granted I had a revelation today that the grass is not always greener on the other side. As a blogger, I tend to be a bit raw, or as one of my favorite professors in grad school used to say..get raggedy so you can see what’s really beneath the surface.  In many ways this space serves as my place to let it all out and over the months I have appreciated the feedback.

However last week, it hit me that I need to really limit my time online. So this weekend I did just that and guess what? The result was a level of connection that I have not had in a long time, so much so that I found myself wondering how many of us use the internet to avoid dealing with those less than perfect things in our lives?

I suspect I am not alone, maybe you don’t use the internet, maybe you stay busy…really doesn’t matter what it is but I am reminded that in our high tech world sometimes we need to turn it all off to get some perspective on our own lives. Today started like any other Monday in that I had a lot on my plate but for the first time in a long time, I saw the Spousal Unit in a positive light and it felt good.

So if I go MIA for a while it most likely means I have unplugged so that I can plug into those who are most important to me. If you don’t have relationship issues but are just feeling overwhelmed with the pace of life, I strongly advice unplugging, summer is here, get off the computer and enjoy some nature. Now I just need the sun to come out again so I can get back outside.

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.