After much consideration, I have decided to wean myself off of social media. The extraction process is not easy, especially since I went the lazy route and had everything logged in through FB. And convincing others to jump ship for direct communication has been an interesting venture. I have engaged in a few rather intimate conversations with people I have not spoken with for a long time, in some cases years. So while I am not getting the flood of input I was from FB and Instagram, I have been rewarded for this transition.
If anyone out there is thinking of going the same route, I suggest first deleting the apps from your phone. For me, the ritual of sitting down at the desktop computer and checking messages/posts, is much better than the mindless scrolling that occurs with mobile devices. I was encouraged in this new direction after watching this TED talk that seems to be about privacy but for me just reaffirmed out how radically our perception of the world was being altered by social media and catered advertising. I also found this episode of To The Best Of Our Knowledge on attention helpful. Paying attention as a writer, as an artist, as a mother, as a human, is a huge part of the job but that is stripped away when we have such easy distractions in our hands. And it is intentionally stolen from us. That is why we should analyse our online habits: we, who have so little control over so much, can control our focus.
Besides for being able to engage in some good one-on-one time with friends, I have also managed to keep a daily dream journal. I do so in the Notes app on my phone because I can type better half conscious than I can pick up a pen and notebook. There is a lot of gibberish mixed in (I turned off autocorrect) like this:
There was a place like a mallbt a house and we were all prisoners we ddfd comfortable I made out with Brian on his wedding night serbanys a jgd to Crack but still es
I actually have a file on my computer of things I have written when I used to stay up late to write and fell asleep while I was still typing. It’s like a transcript of alien dreams. I don’t get to do that now that I switched my writing schedule to pre-dawn but I do get the vivid dreams that come in the morning after I meet my word count quota and fall back into the comfort of my futon. I used to send these dreams to my friend but have decided to redirect them into a new project where I illustrate them. The concept is still in the early stages but in the meantime I will keep up this new habit, a habit developed in part because of the space that is in my life now that I have subtracted social media.
Another thing I have been able to do now that I have more minutes in my day is to start a new shop featuring sewn goods. Now, those of you who know me up close and personal, know that I have been selling things and starting new shops for decades. For the past few years it has been resin jewellery but it is a tricky medium that hates cold weather so I switched back to my original craft, sewing. Mainly because there is a little fabric shop here in town (and around the corner from my work) and because I found a little machine at the recycle shop a while back. I have been steadily building my inventory over the past couple of weeks and this gave me the chance to watch my hands more. Especially as they reached for my phone when there was a pause in production. This made me more determined to turn off the damned thing, at least on the weekends and evenings.
Sewing is a good counterbalance for writing. Very tactile, very much using different aspects of my brain. It gives me the opportunity to focus on the fabric going under presser foot, the process of building a bag or even a simple pouch requires precise attention and due action (and sometimes reaction). Right now I am working on three different short stories and a novel in the mornings. The novel is the most pleasurable because it is a project that allows meandering but everything I am writing feels never-ending, which can be discouraging. But with sewing, the end is always in mind and usually reached within the hour.
So it has been a good step for me, disconnecting. I know that it is not a luxury that all of us have but I am happy that it is afforded to me. Perhaps I am just old-fashioned in preferring paper to glass screens and conversations to “reactions”. And I know that I am not completely removed but having better control of my hands and mind is all I am after.
Hope you all are well. Take care.
Until next week. xo