So Long, Farewell (7 Steps to Internet Freedom)

Playing at 40 (Spring 2017)

This is almost goodbye. When I started writing Bjütie 5 years ago, I was bursting with unexpressed thoughts and ideas. As the years went on, inspiration has come less often, but I’ve nonetheless enjoyed writing posts and sending them out into cyberspace with the hope that they reach someone. It’s been awesome to get your responses and “likes.” Though I write for my own fulfillment, I publish these writings in order to connect to others.

One theme that has come back over the last months has been the way in which the Internet has changed things, from the way I read to how I spend time generally. And, ever since a certain election in a largish country just south of here, I’ve been questioning the usefulness of being so much online, and on social media, specifically. I’m reminded of 2005 when I stopped watching the news. The tsunami that happened during a slow news period (xmas) had shown me how the media amps things up to the point where information is hurled at us, losing all meaning and becoming extremely oppressive. So I just turned it off (but stayed informed of current events in other ways).

Now that I can connect to the world wherever I am through a device barely larger than a deck of cards, I am noticing that same effect. The awesomeness of staying in touch with far-flung friends or of having a GPS guide with me at all times (I have the WORST sense of direction), is becoming overshadowed by the pile of useless noise and depressing shit. Even my Pinterest and Instagram accounts, once a bastion of cute kittens and cool makeup looks, are littered with adverts and the annoying minutia of lives that have nothing to do with me (how did makeup artists’ accounts go from showcasing creativity to endless videos of them driving around looking glamourous, or lounging sexily poolside?!).

Lately, studies have come out on this next generation, iGen, and the effect of ever-present screens on their relationships. As someone who remembers a time when the options for wasting away idle hours at home were limited (reading, watching reruns on TV… talking on the phone), I have begun to question the use of my off-time and asking what I can do to invite more beauty into my leisure hours.

In 2011 with my first smart phone.

Over the long weekend after the US election, I did a media fast where I didn’t even listen to the radio (I stayed connected just long enough to learn of Leonard Cohen’s death and then shut it down). I wasn’t completely offline; I did occasionally check emails to stay in touch with family and consulted my ever-useful pinned recipes on Pinterest. Since then, I’ve tried different approaches to find balance between staying in touch and informed without being inundated with toxic internet rage. I haven’t yet found the magic formula but I’m getting there. For instance, I no longer get notifications on my phone unless it’s a message from someone I know.

Here is what I propose for the next little while:

  1. Blog no more: I’m winding down Bjütie to focus on other (offline) writing. I hope to post once more to provide an update on how all this went, and then take it down for good in Spring 2018.
  2. Unfollowing social media: I am keeping my social media accounts but unfollowing any accounts that pollute my brain. I will check my Facebook once every couple of days, and continue to train my feed to only show me people I care about and not sad junk. I will keep posting cute pics of my cats on Instagram, and keep sharing things on Facebook that I think my friends will appreciate. As for Twitter and Pinterest, I rarely use them and only for specific things like traffic updates or saved recipes. So that’s ok.
  3. FOMO be gone: One of the things I find most frustrating about online activities is that, once in a while, there’s an article or blog post that is so good it bolsters that Fear Of Missing Out that keeps me checking my Facebook/Twitter/Pocket hits/whatever. I’ll have to accept that I will miss some good stuff — I can’t read everything (and, believe me, most of what I click on turns out to be disappointing rehashed information in any case).
  4. Limited connectivity: I will check my personal email only a couple of times per day. I’ve already unsubscribed from most promotional emails; I now just have to give one last ruthless push to get rid of all the crap. I will continue to consume the podcasts and shows I truly enjoy, as well as YouTube videos when I need to (like for yoga). The web is a good place to find information and will continue to be, no doubt. I just can’t get distracted by all the shiny buttons.
  5. Free time: I used to be a champion at daydreaming and staring into space. I welcome this back into my life!
  6. More offline play: My Monsieur and I really enjoy playing old timey games like ping pong, backgammon, and cribbage. We like being silly, going for walks nearby, and swimming in the river. More yes to all these things.
  7. Creating: I don’t want to set any goals as far as my creative projects are concerned. I will let things unfold and do things for fun, not because I want to be “productive.”

It’s been grand, y’all. I can’t express how wonderful this blog has been for me. I learned skills that became instrumental to my career advancement (which wasn’t my goal AT ALL when I started). And I have a new appreciation for writing and writers. This is hard work! But so very rewarding… See you on the next (and last) one.

xox Brenda

 

 

Comments

  1. Your posts have so often been provocative, in a good way, and helped me to think about the world. Thank you!

  2. I am sad that this blog is coming to an end! I loved reading your posts 🙂 As a fellow blogger and friend, I can understand your decision. I guess you need to do what feels right for you. I stay away from a lot of social media stuff too (as in, I can go a few days—even sometimes a week or two without looking at Facebook). I don’t have a Twitter or Instagram account. Like you, I just want to keep things simple and do stuff that makes me happy (which, yes, involves time OFF the computer/devices). I always hated negative news feeds and the news in general because of all the Debbie Downer things I’d rather not hear about. However, writing my blogs still brings me joy and makes me feel useful to the online world. Good luck with this new outlook on free time and hope to see you occasionally on FB 😉

  3. I love your writing and your thoughtful posts – you will definitely be missed. But I completely understand – I’ve also been feeling lately that there’s just too much information coming at me all the time, and most of it depressing. I miss the quieter times of being offline. I doubt I’ll ever quit blogging, but a cleanse and a cleanout of my feeds is definitely called for. I’m looking forward to hearing how your break goes – please do update us from time to time!

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