Friday, November 30, 2012

Real life > Virtual life

Today I came home to an alarming sight in my bedroom.

Clothes strewn about an unmade bed, my carry-on bag thrown open and a wad of clothes spewing out, closet vomiting shoes and random bags.

I thought, “What lunatic’s been rummaging through my room, and what were they looking for?”

Then I remembered – that lunatic was me this morning as I got ready for work at 6:30 a.m. for our early morning event, and I couldn’t find my favorite sweater.

Anyway, I’m bundled up in sweats after a day of feeling two steps behind at work no matter what I did, and I’m missing home. But that's not new. 

I’ve realized a couple things about myself in the last month, during which time I’ve gotten to go home twice and spend some delightful time with family and the closest friends I’ve ever made.
As soon as I got to the airport to fly back for homecoming, I realized I’d left my iPhone charger. Oh well, not that big a deal, everyone has an iPhone, I’ll just borrow one, I thought. So I listened to music, surfed Facebook obsessively, drew a lot of somethings and found out I’m pretty all around Drawsome, and generally tried to run down my battery as quickly as possible. Note: I have an iPhone 4 which has a remarkable battery life – if not used heavily it will easily go 48 hours.

I made it home and caught up with my family, then went to Chapel Hill to spend some time with friends on Franklin Street. Other than coordinating what time to meet at the bar, I don’t think I looked at my phone once. I had to turn it off overnight to preserve the battery, which meant Saturday morning I got to replay a familiar scene when Mom opened my door at 9 o’clock.

“Honey … didn’t you say you were heading to Chapel Hill around 9:15?”

“Aghhhh my alarm!!” I groaned, rolling out of bed immediately, remembering all the times Mom saved my butt when I forgot to set my alarm, or hit p.m. instead of a.m.

All day Saturday I was surrounded by friends I hadn’t seen in four or five months. It was so much wonderfulness it was almost too much to handle. I managed to charge my phone halfway while getting ready to go out, but it wasn’t really a priority because I had barely touched it all weekend.

I had a fabulous time at home, and it wasn’t til I was back in Dayton, staring at Facebook again, that I realized what social media is for me. I had no interest in stupid Facebook or Twitter or instashazam while I was home because everyone I would have wanted to update on my life, chat with or just plain stalk was right in front of me. I don’t know why this was so revolutionary to me. I wouldn’t say I waste an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, especially because I spend far less time on it now than I did last year while writing papers. I think what I’m getting at is this:

Facebook has no draw for me when there’s anything going on that actually catches my interest in the least, especially if it’s me physically doing something, whether it be cheering on a hopeless football game from the student section, babysitting a hilarious 8-year-old, interviewing a 70-something real estate guru, having a serious conversation with a good friend, playing any sport or enjoying the company of real live people.

I notice that I can look back on a day and judge how exciting, fulfilling and life-giving my activities were based on how few times I checked Facebook on my phone.

So while I still value Facebook for its mass communication value and for keeping tabs on my friends back home, and being able to see when people post new blog updates, I’m resolving to let it steal even less of my interest. No more exchanging a half hour that could have been spent reading a good book, going for a run, or developing a relationship with someone for a half hour of mindless news feed browsing on the soul-sucking wraith that can be social media.