February 26th, 2013

 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.

6 Responses to “Clearing”

  1. Amanda says:

    I read this twice and love your perspective on silence from social media. We all need to do real life without it now and again.

  2. Asha says:

    If you think of social media as a place where you mingle and talk and connect with friends (the bustling cafe next to your workplace perhaps), then not going there does two things: it quiets your surroundings, but it also removes you from the people and voices that warm you. (And we DO miss you.) The thing about social media is that it can be so loud and so MUCH that those who miss you might not realize it for a while because they’re too distracted the noise.

    BUT. I don’t think you or any of us could realize that until we turn it all off you have.

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  4. Sheryl says:

    I have missed you very much in my facebook feed, and it’s a happy surprise when I see the occasional posts from your public page. I have to take 3 or 4 day breaks from the internet, every few weeks. Too much for this introvert.

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