Something strange is going on. I haven’t been tweeting much lately. My Pinterest boards are gathering virtual dust. I’ve only checked Facebook a few times in the past month. Aside from updating this blog, my internet activity has dropped off drastically. And guess what? The earth is continuing to spin on its axis! I KNOW. I can hardly believe it, either. Just like I am shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you! — that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise split up.
You all know I’m a big fan of social media and blogging. I’ve gradually gotten into texting and finally got a smart phone after every 13yo had had one for years. And I have to say, smart phones certainly make sense when you’re, say, dealing with a health crisis that requires you to Google new medical terms and update a half-dozen family members around the country several times a day. Maybe that’s why I’m burned out on instant communication right now.
I remember more than a decade ago when I was working for an internet company where it was common practice to email someone, instant-message them to tell them to check their inbox, then walk over to their cubicle 5 ft. away if you didn’t receive a response within 3 minutes. How annoying is that? As annoying as people who mark every other email “high priority” when it’s SO not.
Even though I escaped the corporate cubicle farm, I have not freed myself from the electronic tether. The best part about being self-employed is being able to work whenever and wherever. The worst part about being self-employed is being able to work whenever and wherever, even on vacation. As an employee, I had no problem shutting down my computer every evening and not checking email or voicemail until the next morning. Now, it’s a big deal for me to turn off my cell phone before 10pm.
Granted, it’s not all work-related stuff. Maybe the babysitter’s texting me to bring bathing suits for the kids tomorrow. Maybe a friend is checking to see what time we’re going to the gym or if I have so-and-so’s email. Maybe it’s an Evite for a birthday party or Southwest’s low-fare alerts. But I have a hard time ignoring that stuff or putting it off till later. Like it or not, I’m the kind of person who has to deal with something right when I’m thinking about it or I forget. So that’s how I end up researching fall airfares for a trip we might take or shopping online for kids’ birthday presents at 9pm to use a free shipping code before it expires.
It feels like I’m getting things done, being uber-productive, but I have to wonder at what expense. Low-level anxiety is the undercurrent of most of my days lately, even at the pool or park with my kids. It’s sort of ridiculous that we worry about people if they don’t tweet, blog, or update Facebook for a few days. It’s kind of crazy that people feel compelled to announce that they are unplugging for an extended time or taking a blogging vacation. Are we really that important that people are hanging on our every tweet or post? Are my throngs of Twitter followers bereft without my daily quips about toddler temper tantrums and misguided meal plans? Doubtful. For now, for the summer, I’m semi-unplugged and enjoying it.
Do you have a love/hate relationship with social media and technology? Do you consciously “unplug” now and then? What are the repercussions, if any?