Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Age of Distraction


My name is Chrissy, I have an Internet Problem.

The problem is that I like the Internet too much and that I post things to the Internet incessantly. I tell my life story on my blog, catalog my books on Goodreads, log my workouts on Dailymile, use Twitter as my own personal water cooler, keep in touch with friends via Facebook, save pretty pictures on Pinterest, forget about my Tumblr, have over 100 subscriptions in Google Reader, am figuring out Google+ as we speak, load my photos to Flickr, and, well, I'm probably forgetting something because seriously - have you seen the Internet? It's huge!

Up until this point in my life, my Internet Problem has not been an actual problem. In fact, it has saved me from many a boring day at my desk. I've made great friends through the Internet, learned new things, been inspired to try new things - marathons! minimalism! MFAs! mushroom burgers! - and altered my view of the world in important and profound ways. I am who I am, in part, because of the Internet, and I wouldn't change that for anything.

And yet, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, but I was prompted to write about it today after reading Ashley's post about living in the Age of Distraction. Over the last few weeks, I've been trying to reign in the time I spent on the Internet. Don't worry - my blog isn't going anywhere. I honestly don't think I could survive without my weekly ramblings on The New Me. Instead I'm looking at the other sites I use and seeing where I can cut the fat, so to speak. Some of these communities are awesome, but they aren't adding anything positive to my life. They're taking up space in my brain that I should be using for other things - like writing, reading and being engaged with the present moment. Next month (!) I start my MFA program and my schedule will be flexible, fluid. It will be easy to fall back into old habits and idle away hours by refreshing Twitter and subscribing to anything that looks halfway interesting in Google Reader. Thus, in preparation for the Next Big Stage Of My Life, I have done the following:
  • I am quitting Dailymile. This website is awesome and the community there has been nothing but supportive. I probably wouldn't have run my first - not to mention second! - marathon without the advice and cheerleading that I found there. These days, I have a lot more confidence as a runner and I enjoy the solitary aspect of working out. I've been tracking my workouts using Running Ahead, keeping my account private so it's purely for my own records. It's a lot less time consuming and a lot more data, which is perfect for me, for now.
  • Goodbye, Tumblr! You were a fun little experiment but I never got that into you and anyway, it's easier to share things in one place, which might as well be Google Reader. (By the way, if you know how to delete a Tumblr account, let me know. I can't figure it out.)  
  • Oh Flickr, my flickr! I haven't uploaded photos in a while and I probably won't renew my Pro account next year. I post my best photos on my blog anyway and I need to just start organizing the ones of my laptop better.
  • Reigning in Reader. Y'all. On my own personal Internet, Blogs are the golden eggs and Google Reader is the basket which lovingly cradles them. Google Reader is also a great source of frustration - having unread items sitting there, unread, makes me angsty and I can't focus until I see that nice and tidy zero once more. (Yes, I am aware that this is a major white whine/first world problem. I apologize to those who have real problems.) I've been slowly combing through my subscriptions and deleting many of them. I don't need to subscribe to every blog or website that had a good post that one time.
  • Hiding people on Facebook. I like to check up on people every now and then, but I don't necessarily want every detail of their daily commute clogging up my newsfeed. Hiding people that aren't my nearest and dearest and/or interesting at least 80% of the time is my new best friend. 
These are small changes, but I'm hoping they yield big results.  If I can make my offline life half as prolific as my online life, then I'll be in business.

Do you have an Internet Problem? Any tips on keeping your online life in check? Let me know in the comments or email me at thenewchrissy (at) gmail (dot) com.