Notes on a social media retreat, two weeks in.
In retreat from socializing online, my days are eerily quiet. It’s as if I have been living in a bustling village that has suddenly been deserted. When a message does comes through in the form of an email or text, it is purposeful, pointed, private. There is no chatter, no news or opinion flashing by to divert my attention, no ambient conversation to pad the internal silence. External sounds are jarring. I play baroque music to drown out Patrick’s telephone conversations, the tapping of the dog’s claws on the floors, the gushing and gurgling of the dishwasher.
It’s lonely. I wonder if it’s a good kind of lonely, the kind of clearing where a person might encounter some wild, elusive truth; or the kind that lures you to dark and tangled places.
When the children come home, I am part of something again for a little while. I’ve never been so aware how temporary my membership is in that society. Who am I without it? Where is my life? Of all these friends and acquaintances, which endure as real relationships–that don’t require the daily casual encounter in the virtual town square to maintain an interest and concern? Which people matter enough for me to reach out to them in other ways, and to whom do I matter enough?
Because, of course, I wonder if I am missed. Does the stream rush in to fill the absence of a friend as swiftly as it floods silence? Maybe I’ve been missing someone all this time, and didn’t know it.
Maybe it was me.