The day I didn’t break up with the Internet

My recent post about my disappointment in the behavior of the Internet (specifically as it related to a Twitter lynch mob against PR professional Justine Sacco) garnered a lot of traffic.

I asked myself, “why?” Sure, the post was opinionated and related to a trending topic. But I think the primary reason is because misery loves company and a lot of people are miserable.

We’re stuck in really bad relationships… With the Internet.

Admit it. You’re bored. Tired. Annoyed. If something better came along — like virtual reality or time travel– you’d totally consider walking away.

We know we’re tiring of the Internet. We’ve even admitted it! We’ve gone on breaks. We’ve dated other … media.

And yet, for various reasons — love, addiction, money — we can’t seem to walk away. Not yet.

Some of us really don’t want to walk away, even though we know we’d be better off if we did. Some of us want to get up, leave, and never look back, but keep making excuses as to why not.

I’m not sure which category I fall into (maybe both, depending on the day) but I do know one thing.

It’s time to detach.

This is my very trendy “one word” for 2014. It’s my teeny tiny bud of a resolution-to-be.

Detach.

Not detox.

Detach.

To become unattached.

Attachment, as those of us with even a minor education in mindfulness practice know, is at the root of fear, anger, sadness. When we allow ourselves to not be attached, or in my case, to detach when we become aware of just how attached we are, a whole world of peace and ease opens up to us.

Bye bye fear and anger.

Hello, possibilities.

I am seriously attached. I am way over attached. Ask anyone who knows me in real life and half the people who know me only through my blog.

I got me a serious case of the ‘tach.

So, I’m trying this out. Detaching.

What will my detachment from the Internet look like in real time?

I have absolutely no idea.

I’m open. (See what I just did there? I detached.)

What’s your relationship with the Internet looking like these days? And what’s your teeny tiny bud of a resolution-to-be?

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17 thoughts on “The day I didn’t break up with the Internet

  1. I happened on a blog post, a few days ago, on the most respected Italian newspaper. I can’t even remember the subject but it caught my eye and I read until the end. A quick glance at the comments revelead a series of obnoxious, offensing and foul language retorts that left me speechless. Would these people have taken the trouble to take pen to paper and written similar letters to the editor in pre-internet days? Or would they have paused to think? The internet has empowered people to just “vomit” whatever first thought comes to mind. And yes, too many of us are bored or have too much time on our hands or just create too much time. There is a whole world away from the screen, made of real people – we should take advantage. It’s easy to get sucked up. Good for you on your detachment intention. As to me, I blog, I have a FB page for the blog but I have so far resisted Pinterest and Instagram. I am afraid I would be caught in a vortex I couldn’t climb out of.

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    • It is such a vortex! And the talkbacks in online newspapers are a disgrace to journalism. I used to work for a local paper — we were very careful about what we printed in the letters to the editor. Not careful to the point of refusing to print criticism, but to make sure the criticism was valuable to the readership — not just spewing hatred! Newspapers, IMO, have made a big mistake in allowing in unfiltered talkbacks in an effort to drive readership. I think, in the long-run, it alienates readers instead.

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  2. Very nice, post. I’m supportive of your choice to detach. I’ve found that I am really only successful in my attempts to detach (from things, people, emotions, habits, etc.) when I practice “just detaching” or “just being” on a regular basis (specifically NOT from things I’m trying to detach to, but rather, just life in general). That is, meditation. And, as much as I know how key that is to this practice, I find myself finding excuses all the time not to do it. I always end up coming back to it, but somehow it’s not a constant in my life. Anyway it just made me wonder with your new pursuit, whether you think meditation would play a role in it or not.

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    • I definitely want to re-integrate meditation into my life, but I think what I am getting at with “detach” is more about acknowledging I have an unhealthy relationship with the internet and making a conscious choice to walk away from it (in small bites, if necessary). Then using this as a stepping stone to walking away from other behaviors or patterns or relationships that I deem unhealthy but have a hard time walking away from because I am afraid or because it serves other more ego-centric needs. For me, this year is about noticing the EGO, and how much of my choices currently serve that side of me, rather than serve my SOUL. And how that works against me in the long run.

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  3. What a conscious and thoughtful way to consider the whole issue. It’s good for all of us to remember that we don’t really know the backstory behind anything, and it’s all too easy to become morally outraged in the vacuum of ignorance. Thank you for the different perspective. How refreshing! As for detaching, I applaud your efforts but…it’s just so hard to really, long-term detach from the net. I’ve given up trying. Though I think that seeking more detachment than the status quo is always a good aim. I wouldn’t want you to full detach, though; I’d miss reading your thoughts!
    Resolutions for 2014…we did this in our family a few days ago, though it was more goals, as well as favourite memories from 2013. My 2 goals were to get something, anything, “proper published” and to return to work while ensuring I maintain time for writing and for family.

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    • I’d miss corresponding with you! I will likely keep blogging, but I think my intention is just going to shift. What this might look like practically is write more for me, and less for what I think readers want to read. (I think I’ve been doing this unconsciously for a few months now). When I started blogging almost a decade ago, I did it mostly as a marketing tool, and only secondarily as a platform for expression. Now, it’s the other way around, which allows me to write more of what I want/need to express, and less worry about “target audience.” I think writing from this place allows me to detach from the blog more, since I am acknowledging I am writing to a much more limited readership. The same people interested in my Israel experiences may not be interested in mindfulness may not be interested in writing as craft. Luckily I have a handful of readers interested in all three!

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      • I’m so honoured to be among those few πŸ™‚ There is definitely a value to writing what interests and moves you, rather than writing what others want to hear about. I couldn’t do the latter if I tried. Well, maybe I could; I will have to when I return to work. But I couldn’t do it here, as here is all about fun and creativity and self expression. One of the things I really enjoy about your posts is hearing what you really think, and hearing about your experiences in Israel. I’m glad you’ve shifted in that direction – for purely selfish reasons!

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  4. If I could connect with people in a more tangible way, then I’d be less disappointed with the Internet. Most of the time it reminds me of how costly physical transportation is, and how it racks up. I couldn’t possibly take on such an expense and keep everything afloat. Time travel would be novel, but teleportation would totally be my gig.

    It’s hard making resolutions with the knowledge they’d be broken. I’ll keep my demands to a minimum, if I wish to have a happier new year. πŸ˜‰

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    • I used to think I was connecting with people online in a tangible way but now I am starting to reconsider this. I do like that online community expands my world, allows me to have conversations I wouldn’t otherwise. But I do agree that it never goes as deep as I might like it, too — or when it does, I pull back because I don’t know the online person well enough to trust them, let’s say, for deeper conversations. It’s a faulty social medium.

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  5. I think you’re onto something with detach over detox and I’ll be looking forward to see where else you go with this. I may be following as I fall into both categories you described as well. As for figuring out why a post did well–it’s impossible. Sometimes posts of mine that seem like such utter nonsense (when you think about it too deeply) are the ones that do well whereas the serious ones don’t. Then the opposite happens next time to I try to copy what I did before. Best to just keep writing from a place of honesty and emotion and even the truth of what you find funny, too.

    Now off to read your past about the Twitter mob!

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  6. Jen, this is so tough. At Thanksgiving, we tried to do a family-detach just for the one day and guess what happened? We gave up by 11 am because all we did the whole morning was answer questions about what was ok, and what isn’t ok. Because these phones and tablets are tools we have come to rely on (timers, weather reports, dictionaries for scrabble, communication, whatever). Between the kids and the adults, it was a pathetic showing. One of the goals I’m thinking about for myself is to be more present in person, for example–for every xxx amount of time I spend online, I need to do xxx amount of time in person, For example, instead of texting or emailing someone. Stop, think, perhaps call or write a letter and actually mail it! Haven’t figured it out yet but will try to define it soon. I read your reply to Silverleaf and feel I’m in the same boat–writing for an audience is stunting my creativity a bit and I started a different blog that I don’t publicize, so I can keep writing in, but it doesn’t have to be perfect and edited and focused.. even though it doesn’t get the response so much. It’s helping…

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    • Robin, I agree. The more I sit with this, and talk about it in real life, the more I like the word detach because it allows me to take incremental steps. I think my attachment to comments on the blog, or to social media is ego-centric (emphasis on ego) and not heart centered. This is something I am looking at in all areas of my life. Where heart rules (my offline writing) I am happy. Where ego rules (social media, for instance), I am more often angry, frustrated, or disappointed.

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  7. Another great post. My resolution is to detach from the internet when I am actively spending time with others. I am turning off notifications from non-critical apps and checking them on my schedule vs. when something pops up. My goal is to be more present in the present. To fully enjoy the now. But I don’t see myself ever fully detaching from the internet and living in a cave. I feel a lot of my interactions online are really valuable in my practice. Including this one.

    Thanks for the great reminder!

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