To bring in the spring proper-like, over the last few months I've been cleansing my innards of caffeine, refined sugar, dairy, bread, and most importantly, the interweb. I'm trying to be more mindful of how many times I check my email, peruse crackheads shopping at Walmart videos and donkey porn. This week I'm doing a facebook and instagram cleanse and curbing my use of other social sites like linkedin, twitter, tumblr and pinterest. My reasons for cleansing vary:
1. The way I use the internet isn't challenging my brain. I could be learning Portugese or working on an album. I could be gardening or wrestling a parakeet. I could be outside getting washed by trees.
2. I'm not absorbing content like I would a book. I'm a web skimmer. I skim friends' facebook posts, random articles, and other digital ephemera, and because I've inundated my mind with stuff, it fails to remember what it is I've read. I'd like to remember. I'd like my brain to process and absorb rather than barely process and purge because it's overwhelmed.
3. There is a level of dependency on these sites that feels super unhealthy - even worse than a bad smoking habit. Waiting in lines, a slow spell at work, long car rides, these are the moments when I crave "checking in" the most.
4. "Social" interactions with people can often feel hollow. "Liking" something doesn't mean there is a connection there. It's digital flirtation at most. And though this is harmless and might even make someone feel good momentarily, I'm looking for authentic interactions. Long letters, tea, conversations, real meet-ups, a meal, an exchange of ideas. You know, the stuff that makes any relationship thrive.
The idea is to see what a 2013 existence is like without heavy reliance on the web and how my day-to-day routine opens up in other ways. So far, it has. For instance, rather than checking my email and facebook first thing in the morning, I'm reading short stories by Beckett or Yi-Fu Tuan's Space and Place, The Perspective of Experience. This little switch-up has changed the tone of my day from frenetic to a little more thoughtful. Instead of scanning friends' facebook posts or pinterest boards when I'm pumping milk from my boobs at work, I meditate. It's often harried meditation, but it's good to step away from glaring screens and email for 10 minutes.
On April 1st I started working on my new project A Short History of a Browser. For the project, I've been hand-drafting my daily browser history onto paper. I'll be doing this the entire month of April. Though I knew I visited certain sites alot, here is where my addiction to facebook and pinterest unveiled itself to me like a sharp spanking.
I don't spend hours on end on these sites, in fact I barely spend any time there at all, maybe a minute or two max, but I tend to "check in" like I'm checking my email (which is another unhealthy addiction all-together). And I check-in ALOT!
Questions I'm asking myself in this process:
1. Where does this desire to "check-in" come from?
2. Who am I trying to impress and where does this desire to impress come from?
3. What and/or who am I hiding from?
4. How can I use the internet more mindfully?
Stay-tuned. More notes on the way.