Crossing the desert, missing dessert.
Today marks three weeks since I embarked on what shall be known hereafter as That Time I Gave Up All the Things. Nineteen days of Lent down, twenty-one to go. In between now and then, I have a spring break vacation and a social media conference lined up. Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.
In the meantime, I can report the following discoveries from my Lenten desert crossing:
Slow news is good news. Since I’m not a consumer of traditional news media, and I work out of my home, retreating from socializing online has encapsulated me in a 360 degree bubble from current events. It’s like living in the middle of the prairie before the age of the telegraph. By the time any news does reach me, all the shouting is over, and all that’s left is in-depth commentary and analysis. It’s extremely agreeable. I am now convinced me that breaking news is like raw beef: unless your immediate survival is on the line, it should be allowed to age well before you consume it.
Sugar is a powerful drug. I know we all know this, but it’s really come home to me since following a Whole30-ish plan of eating (no sugar, no grains, no dairy and nothing artificial). I’ve noticed lots of physical and mental changes, some good, some uncomfortable. It’s been especially interesting to watch my bouncy brain try to regulate itself without simple carbs, or try to replace them by increasing my intake of caffeine, fruits, and sweet vegetables. My brain is super sneaky that way. And when it can’t get what it wants by sneaking, it throws itself against the wall until it falls down in an exhausted heap. (Nerdy neurochemical aside: did you know an attention deficit disordered brain is actually a sleepy brain that keeps trying to jolt itself awake? That’s why stimulant medications are prescribed–to keep it in a state of sustained alertness.)
Timesucks abhor a vacuum. I’ve definitely been more productive during my social media retreat so far. The net effect on my creativity has me questioning a return to twitter at all, and considering changes in the way I use my personal Facebook space. But I notice other online diversions creeping in to fill the time. I have never been so eagerly tuned to my syndicated blog reader, for example. There is something so seductive about passive engagement. We’re all peering through the magic screen while time slips away. I may need to introduce other firewalls, like disabling my browser before noon.
It’s in the way that you use it. As Asha, my friend and creative confidant, pointed out in the comments to this post, social media can be every bit a force for good as for distraction. As an extroverted person who works at home, is married to an introvert, has many dear ones scattered far and wide, and deals in the intangible currency of words and ideas, social media is more than a just an idle past time for me. It’s a village well where I am often refreshed and sustained. It amplifies and supports many of my most important “offline” relationships. I love the glimpses Facebook gives me into my mother’s day, or how it makes it so easy to stay in touch with my best friends between the times we see each other. I like the way it’s helped me get to know more of my Little Rock neighbors, and has reunited me with relatives and old friends. I know everybody loves to hate Facebook, but I am so glad to live in an age where such things are possible.
Last, but far from least, I miss bacon.
Wish me luck for the second half of this mad trek. I’ll need it.