alternate reality

…would it surprise anyone to learn that my favorite companion is my computer?  I have no time for friends or the fun activities to which they invite me.  I can’t be bothered by casual playdates with my sisters and their children, and I certainly am far too busy to ever serve as a baby-sitter.  My church has long since ceased to request my aid with Sunday School, fundraisers, or hospitality efforts…

Would it surprise anyone?  Yes.  It would surprise me.  The grim statistics listed above have not yet become reality in my life.  I do many fun things with my friends, I have playdates with my family, and I am highly involved at church.  However, in taking stock of my life I realize that my lifestyle in general has undergone a seismic shift, and the fault line leads directly to my laptop and the amount of time I spend with it on my knees.

When, exactly, did this take place?  Somewhere between the bouncing vibrancy of my late teens and the potato-like existence of my early thirties, I have gained an incredibly strong attachment to a notebook-sized piece of plastic with little keys and a bright screen.  Oh, I have friends, I tell myself – look, hundreds of friends on facebook alone!  I see them, and details of their daily life, on my laptop screen every day – but I haven’t seen the actual faces of some of those friends in years.  Those status updates give the illusion of connection, even intimacy – but I find myself wondering if my cyber-friends filter, manage, and weight their status updates as carefully as I do mine.  “Had a wonderful chat with my darling @Jamie X! She’s still looking as FabULouS as ever, and HOW does she manage the “X” foundation in addition to looking after her little darlings?  Bisous, Superwoman!”  This strikes just the right note – light, charming, in touch with people that matter – no need to mention that the chat was online, that her online photo could be airbrushed for all I know, and that even though she lives a mere twenty minutes away I’ve never felt the warmth of her children’s soft hands in mine.  “Just sat through the most exquisite concert – if Beethoven were still alive, I’d kiss him – grumpy, deaf and all!”  No need to clarify that I’m sitting on my own couch, the concert was recorded on DVD, and mercy knows I’ve never spontaneously kissed anyone, never mind a dead composer.   Now, lest all my blog-readers think I’m a pathological liar, I should clarify that these are fictional examples.  However, I’ve come uncomfortably close to “re-packaging” my life via status updates, and I suspect I’m not alone.

So, I am making a commitment, and this blog is one of the first steps.  Web 2.0 and its attendant social networks are a reality of modern life, and I will not retreat from those realities.  However, I will choose to limit my social networking involvement to applications that affect myself and those around me in useful and positive ways.   In recent years, I have allowed myself to come perilously close to enslavement to social networking sites.  This blog serves notice that I will approach them as the tools they are and make them my servants rather than my masters. 

And when I’m done doing that, I’m going to go take a walk.  More about the exercise program later…

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