About a month ago, I started to look at various aspects of my life. I was seeking some dramatic types of change, where I could provide some kind of “improvement” without really defining it. The entire “search-for-change” thing failed completely. Well, not completely, I did manage to locate two thin dimes in the couch cushions. But I didn’t find anything that would be a huge change for me. Except I started noticing that a few things kept falling off the table. Walking, bike-riding, exercising more, reading more, playing my guitar (despite the fact that I suck – I still want to learn)….all of these things take time, which I seemed to have less of now than ever before. Perhaps, I mused silently to myself (and not for the first time) it was time to investigate.
My first notice that something was desperately wrong came from my overdependence on Google Calendar. See, to use it – I had to have my computer or my phone near me. All the stuff I noted above gets done when I am away from these devices. Sure, the phone works great as a pedometer when I am walking. Plus, with a set of earphones, I can block out some of the more unpleasant sounds of living in a town. And yes, I could read when at the computer….but typically, I would spend my time going from site to site reading Wikipedia entries or burying my head in useless news stories moving at 78 rpm.
After a few moments, and I looked down at my legs while I was sitting at the keyboard. My skin is pasty-white. Granted, I don’t tan all that well, but its obvious that I haven’t been outside in the heat of the day like I used to be. Looking at my work area, I have two computer systems – both of which are constantly going. Yes, I work with my hobby of baseball statistics, but lately – that’s all I have been doing. I am a Druid, damnit… I love being outdoors…I love getting sweaty, even in the heat of the day (provided I have a bottle of water with me to keep myself hydrated). I manipulate information and query databases for a living…that doesn’t mean I should live it when I am away from work too! I’m not a digital Druid, I’m not an 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit or 64-bit representation of a human. And yet….
Yeah. That was a month ago. And the changes have been slow, and somewhat steady. I get out a bit more often. I walk. I spend time in the backyard enjoying the outside. Now, in Texas, its Easy-Bake-Oven standards outside right now…so I don’t always see the afternoon sun. I do like the idea of not being flame-broiled like a Whopper. I have set the baseball database off to the side on my work days. And on the weekends, I typically work on it when I cannot get outside. Except when I take the time to read. I looked at my to-read pile, and started pulling books to me. And I keep a notebook handy, just in case I read something that is inspiring to me at that moment….or if I get inspired to write some more poetry. Removing myself from some aspects of the digital world has definitely been a help. But I can’t disconnect completely…
I do have friends that I stay in touch with via Email, Facebook, Twitter, and even here at WordPress. Some of these folks I know face-to-face, but digital communications – especially in an asynchronous format – seems to work best for us. So removing myself from digital platforms altogether is not a practical thing for me. However, removing myself from certain segmented aspects of these platforms has been beneficial, especially for my sanity.
Facebook, these days, has gone from being a wonderful way to keep up with friends and family to becoming a huge political billboard. Meme after meme, news article after news article (let’s not even start to get into the veracity of the stuff that gets shared) concerning political gyrations of one sort or another from around the globe wind up in the FB feed. In some respects, its not terrible thing, as it does serve to expand the bandwidth on issues that do not get reported as widely as they should. However, the barrage of one political perspective after another after another after another…well, its wearisome. And given the shitty addition of Facebook’s filtering of my feed, which removes postings from many of my friends in favor of….well, whatever methodology that Facebook has added to its algorithm. What I wind up with is a feed that only shows me *some* of what happens with my friends. And hunting for a different methodology at another social platform has proven to be just as fruitless and useless. So, in deference to my friends whose posts I haven’t provided a “like” to…its likely because I have’t seen it because it was either drowned out by the dozens of dozens of political ruminations that are expectorated into my feed by Facebook’s algorithms or filtered into oblivion by the same programmatic equation seemingly designed to lull me into an Orwellian slave that is chained to my online devices.
So for approximately the last four weeks, I have utilized Facebook while at work. It makes for a tidy ten minute break from SQL programming and endless iterations of data manipulation, mostly for people who have no idea what they are going to do with that information – aside from plug it into some proposal designed to bring monies into the college. So very few people at the college really grok what they should be doing with those that data requests. But that’s a thought for another time loop. Facebook serves as a tool to break the monotone drum-beat that punctuates my mundane job. Once I leave work, I head home, feed my darling furry girls, post one last time (usually) to Facebook, and crack open the book I am currently reading, or take my Mac offline so I can write (staying online provides too much of a temptation for endless distraction). If there’s no desire to head in that direction, I find a pair of swim trunks, and relax in the pool in the backyard. Or, I may go walking. Or in the very near future (when it arrives), I may strap on my helmet and go for twenty mile bike ride. Anything, aside from the mind-sucking of what the internet has become.
Now, I am sure there are those that see the internet as the tool it is, and do their best to use at as such. Furthermore, there will be those that see the internet, in the format that I have disparaged in my above denunciations, as something that should be treasured and enjoyed. I say, more power to ’em. Who am I to say what is right and wrong for anyone else? I know what works for me…and I would never dare to imply that it would work for everyone else – or even one other person.
I will; however, find some tennis shoes, and go for a walk in the park – just across the street from my house. I moved here two years because of that – among a whole host of other things. Its time to start using it, and experiencing it while getting back into a healthy shape. After all, in two years, I have a mountain in China to visit and walk up. And shortly after that, there’s the Tor. I have places to go, things to do when I am there, and prayers I am obliged to offer. I’m not going to get there sitting at the keyboard….