Lately I've been tossing around the idea of taking a vacation from my social networks. For some people this would be easy as pie, for others it would be shockingly unthinkable. For me, I wasn't really sure. I'm not glued to the screen like some people are nowadays, but I'm still sort of internally embarrassed about how much I relied on these sites' constant news streams to keep my occupied when I'm bored. Especially with the sunny summer breeze flowing through my windows, and my books-I-want-to-read-but-somehow-haven't-started-yet stack growing ever taller atop my desk, it just feels wrong to be constantly putting that facebook needle in my arm every few hours. Very wrong, unnatural. Something about summer in particular is begging me to pull away from the social syringes and go enjoy the real world. So I have.
A while ago, I used to use my browser's "pinned tabs" feature to keep Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Reader, and Gmail open (in that order, always in that order) where those tabs would always be perched in the corner of the window, constantly updating and alerting me when there was something new for me to see. Eventually I realized how much this felt like voluntarily hooking myself up to some kind of life-support system, intentionally ingesting the maximum possible amount of these drugs, and making it easier than ever before to do so. So one day, I just unpinned all of the tabs and switched to the more common-sense method of not opening a page unless I specifically felt like checking it, rather than having all five blaring in my face all day. Sounds like just a little baby step--it was.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that I should try some solid time away from these sites entirely. "Which week should I start?" I instinctively asked myself, insincerely attempting to find blocks of time that would be "efficient" for me, all the while knowing that I could start any god damn time I had the motivation to. Feeling like an adult reprimanding a misbehaving child, I eventually got to "Why not just start... now, in the middle of the day on a Tuesday?" So I opened my laptop, spent 10 minutes in Photoshop making a nice "Be back soon" banner for my pages, deleted my profile pictures, closed out the few remaining tabs I had open, and deleted their corresponding apps from my phone. "Now what?"
Well, the "what" turned out to be more relaxing, slower-moving days, books being read more quickly and enjoyed more, more time for recording and uploading my new music, and even taking up casual sketching again, a habit which I'd mysteriously lost over the past year or so. Already I'm feeling so much better about myself. I was preparing to be disappointed in myself, worried that within a few days I'd be constantly distracted by some unquenched thirst for social media updates. Rather, it's been easy so far--not just easy, but enriching. It feels good, man. Perhaps I was never as addicted as I thought I was. It gave me a little insight into the psychology of the modern mind...we put so much of our everyday lives into these frames of thought that we build for ourselves. Gotta check facebook every few hours, just like "gotta go smoke a cig in a few hours". All I had to do was build a frame in which the status quo was staying away from social networking, and all of a sudden it IS easy as pie. I'll have no problem doing another week of this--I feel like I can breathe again.