Authentic Admitting

OK, I’m going to admit this–I waste enormous amounts of time on the interwebs, and I tell myself that what I am doing is important. And it is not.

Wrist band that looks like a watch, but isn’t. From tru-tv.com

Reading through Facebook today, I had no desire to post anything. Many people are now endorsing products (they get paid for doing this) and it drains their credibility for me. If I don’t know if you like the product or like getting paid to say you like the product, I don’t want to give up a chunk of my time figuring it out. Pinterest is nice eye candy, but I’m not connecting to anything. I’m looking at nice things, and forgetting them. I was neither doing anything nor being me, I was floating in a half-world or unreal experience that wasn’t memorable.

I got up early this morning, and was supposed to be writing my book. But first, check Facebook and emails and Pinterest and stop by Twitter. Because, no kidding, I feel guilty if I don’t check in on my. . . what, exactly? My fake feeling of connection is what. One of the people I follow on Facebook posts every thought, every decision,  all to a wash of predictable support from her friends. I have begun to dread seeing her avatar. This is not connection.  This is not friendship. This is also not doing nothing. It is fueling a low-grade irritation about someone I have never met.  Still, I can do this because on the internet you can do nothing and rationalize it as social networking, and call it working.

Who knows if you are wasting time with the Un-Time clock from randomization.com

By 7 a.m. when I’d been up for two hours, I has spent the entire time sitting at my desk, staring at my laptop. I was not relaxing. I was not doing anything, either. I was in some sort of half-awake world of semi-attention, hoping that something would inspire me.

What would really inspire me was rest. It came up like a huge bubble from under a deep pool–if I wanted to rest, I should rest. Stop fooling myself. So I got up, closed the computer, and went back to bed.

I lay on my back, wondering if I should be working. No, I was tired, so I closed my eyes. It felt. . .good. I fell asleep quickly. Slept for two hours. Woke up rested.

When I returned to the computer, I did not check in on Facebook. It ran just fine without me. Instead, I wrote down what I needed to do, set the timer on a reasonable amount of time to accomplish it, and started writing. It worked. Because I was rested.

Lying down is resting. Lying down and opening your iPad is not resting.
I like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. But it’s not work and it’s not research. It needs to fit into my goofing-off time. So if I don’t have time to goof-off, I will not call posting on Facebook “working,” and spend 45 minutes reading what people who are not in my computer’s contact list are doing.

Rest when I’m tired. Work when I need to work. Goof off when i am done working. That feels better.

Quinn McDonald rationalizes too much of her life. She needs to write more about the Inner Critic, who can also tempt us away from work, then snicker behind our backs. She won’t give up Pete’s Pond, though.

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23 thoughts on “Authentic Admitting

  1. I am so happy to read all of these comments, and your blog, about not drinking the social media kool aid. In small doses it seems fine. I find Pinterest boring, I keep forgoetting about Twitter, except on special occasions — when I’m on the road and want to catch an up to date score of a football game – yep, I likes my Packers — and I post a status update on FB about once a day and see what other people are up to. But I’d much rather read blogs, check out flickr – where I’ve actually been recruited for photo jobs or publication, or go for a walk outside.

    Work is work. I know what work is, and I seldom find it on FB or Twitter. When I truly want a five minute break while staying on the computer, I’ve learned to set the timer that sits on my desk.

  2. I appreciate your candor, Quinn. I think all the time we spend online is degrading our quality of life. I love my online life – it enables me to have a business and work on my own terms – but too much is too much. Part of our work is to define our own terms around time spent online. And to ensure that we have time resting. Thanks for modeling that.

    Your post is timely. Thank you for it.

    • Yes, there are many great things about being online. As a writer, I love the fact that I can do my work in my home office. But I do waste time, and that time is precious to me! Thanks for leaving a comment.

  3. I have finally started accepting that on the days I’ve wasted on social media, surfing the internet, etc., that it was what I needed to do, at that moment. Some days I don’t feel like doing anything more than that and I own it and hopefully move onto something more productive the next day.

    My really bad habit is perusing art sites and using the excuse that I’m doing something for my livelihood…looking at art and getting inspiration. Well, if I’m not making art, then what good is it in the long run? Yes, I honestly do get inspiration and ideas but I need to set a timer and then get to work.

    On a different note, why do people feel inclined to share everything on Facebook? You’re right; it’s not connecting, it’s just fishing for validation. I like to read quick updates, inspirational quotes and blog posts/comments; the rest, I scan over quickly. And I’ve become very adept at changing the settings for certain people so I only see a very limited amount of posts they make.

    From one of your comment responses, I cringe every time I see people sitting in a restaurant, movie theater or on vacation…glued to their phones – texting, playing games, etc. What happened to conversation? I seriously worry that young people today won’t be capable of having an intelligent, interesting conversation in the future.

    • I love the idea that you call fishing the ‘net what it is–not working, and set a timer. That’s perfect. I’m happy to admit that I’m goofing off. And then I goof fully. I just can’t call it research or resting, because I’m not doing that. When I got my computer upgraded, I lost every one of my bookmarked art sites. Of course, I tore at my hair at first, then realized “ohhhhh, I can choose NEW ones to look at.” Everyone should have their Google reader wiped clean from time to time. And about texting? I teach a course called Four Generations in the Workplace, and part of it is teaching young people just entering the workplace what facial expressions mean. Not just body language, but simple facial expressions. They don’t know. They grew up texting. So unless it looks like a smiley face, it’s a mystery to them.

  4. All the computer time that I tell myself is work but isn’t is more than “goofing off” for me, it’s numbing, avoiding, escaping. Pretending I’m connecting when I’m really not, or trying to connect without taking a more direct approach. I discovered recently that when I truly feel content in my life, I barely check in online. But I agree about Pete’s Pond.

  5. I think I got Facebook and the like out of my system in the first go-round of those services a couple of decades ago (they had different names and fewer users but were exactly the same things). The good news: the allure goes away. The bad news: seems like the tendency (or need?) to spend “zoneout time” may be constant. I sometimes realize I’ve been reading material for the past 20 minutes that I haven’t learned anything from, or listening to a presentation that’s basically nonsense, but there I am still listening.

    The “zoneout” channel changes, from legos to drawing to various computer-mediated things, etc., but the zoning out remains! Occasionally I have interesting ideas in those times, but I’m pretty sure I have more ideas and they’re more interesting when I’m actually doing something.

    I wonder if zoning out is a necessary and/or useful state of consciousness, on par with states we appreciate like sleep, attention, processing, and relaxation?

  6. I´ve recognized that trait in me too and I set two mornings a week as “no internet” slots. It´s been going on for only a week, so I don´t know if it´s going to work in the long run but it could lead to something. 😀
    I´m extremely curious and hate to “miss” anything. I read (or at least scan) allllll my FB feeds daily. My kids ace the FB lists to make reading easier if pressed for time, I don´t have as my friends as they do and still don´t need those.
    I have a Twitter account “just in case” but never use it or I´d be glued to the screen 24/7. 😀

  7. Quinn – so glad to know i’m not the only one who considers many of the social media sites to be time spent in a sort of half awake state. I’m trying to limit my computer time – when i’m not at my paying job – and find that my energy and creativity are greatly enhanced by doing so. Of course i would not miss your blog for anything – i love reading your thoughts!!!

    • You said something really important–I bet the popularity of social media has a lot to do with being at work. It’s a break, like a window into the “real” world of not-work. Because I own my business, I feel/need less of that.

    • Another Authentic Admission! I sometimes feel that Facebook is a grown-up version of what we did as kids, yell: “Look at me, mom, look at me, look!” I know that’s not always true, but sometimes it does feel that way.

  8. And all that art and good stuff we are looking at is done by people who are actually creating not zoning out on the internet. Going for a walk is a great way to get inspired, as well. As Julia Cameron says, “angels speak to us when we are walking.” Thanks for your blog, though, it is one of the few I check every morning – always thought provoking.

    • Love those patterns you found. Finding and recognizing patterns is a strong indicator of creative work, and well, we all know about meaning making! What a blissful trip that was–really restorative.

  9. Oh my god….you are SO refreshing! This is exactly the way I feel about the Internet ,social networking,research,put whatever label,on it that suits the day! But it Irritates the pants off me seeing people doing it when time could be so better spend just BEING..or sleeping. I have seen people in beach bars glued to laptops and iPhones for hours, barely looking up…..in front is the turquoise sea of the Atlantic stunning ,views of morroco and the african continent,hundreds of kites surfers with their beautiful array of coloured kites,jumping,kids making sand sculptures…..why the hell would you be staring at a screen when the world is in front of you in full glory!
    However….you always make my day,and without all of this technology I would not know you exsisted in the universe!
    Continue to share your thoughts and we must all remain mindful not to get addicted!xxxxxxxxx

    • The trick is (I think, anyway) to know what you are doing and choose it. If you have a breathtaking view in front of you, see it. My blog is writing practice and idea try-outs, and that is actually doing something. I had the idea for the next book while writing. My fault was thinking that trolling the ‘net was work when it’s goofing off. Nothing wrong with goofing off, if that’s what I want to do, but if I want to rest, it’s not that. I get sad when I see two young people obviously on a date, both hunched over their phones, texting–sometimes each other!

    • It’s a hard habit to break because it *feels* like work. Blogging actually is work. I’m a writer and blogging is writing practice. And with smart people leaving comments, I get a lot of good ideas.

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