Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Media Junkie Learns the Value of Moderation

Jenna’s given me some great topics to pull from for the next few weeks. Some relate well to what we have been discussing, but because I’m still on the high of at home internet, I’d really like to talk a bit about Silence and creativity. Not that my life is really silent, even without the computer. Luba likes to wait until something important is happening - something requiring silence - and only then discover the monsters that hover around our house. They’re always just out of sight, but she knows they’re there, waiting to kill us all if she stops barking. But the article isn’t talking about silence so much as it’s referring to peace. A peace that can actually be had in the midst of barking and birds and whatever other sounds fill your day, but can’t be had on Facebook, or on the phone, or in front of the television. It’s coversation, and the conversation hybrids that slip in through the media that break the silence. Maybe because our minds want to treat them like a real discussion, and who can create art in the middle of a conversation? Maybe because everything is in snapshots and sound-bites.

That’s not to say real silence, in which dogs don’t bark, sirens don’t scream, and radio’s don’t play the same political clip over and over again, isn’t necessary as well. I love the time spent in silence - real silence -and solitude, but often a bit of sound is helpful to creation, if it’s the right sound. My husband playing guitar or piano, rain on the roof, wind in the trees, the soft voices of strangers on a train. Pure silence isn’t essential to me, but media silence is, I think, essential to art itself, because it breaks up the flow of images and thoughts. It creates too broad a collection of tiny pictures in my mind, and none of them can grow. Like the seed sown among weeds in Christ’s tale, art is like faith, it’s chokes on distraction.
The question for a lot of us,though, is how to respond to this. Media is not an essential, I'm learning that very few things are essentials, but it is helpful. I know the blogging world has been a lovely, virtual coffeehouse for me, an opportunity to meet people whose thoughts inspire and challenge me, who pursuits are similar and whose guidence is valuable. Media connects us to each other, and if it is given it's place, and not allowed to overwhelm us, it can be an absolute blessing. I can easily get addicted to facebook, to pinterest, to blogger, to youtube, but fortunately, my life sets pre-existing boundaries. If I have a fully charged computer, with nothing attached to it, I have about two and a half hours of internet. If, like today, I'm charging my phone off the computer, I have less. I could spend the evening in the car, charging and surfing the net, if my husband wasn't such a fascinating person to spend time with, but my days are still limited. Two hours, and then I'm alone with my barking dog, chatting daughter, and squealing pigs, all much better suited to encouraging art than Facebook. How other's deal with media, I don't know, I was an addict before I went off the grid, not everyone as lacking in self discipline.


  1. What's been hard for me lately is that people seem hurt that I don't catch up with them on Facebook. How do I make them understand that I value them enough to desire true connection with them, and not the "So-in-so just poked you" kind?

    I'm staying far, far away from Twitter.

  2. So am I!

    I know what you mean. It's hard because, a lot of times, I don't think people really want a true connection, or if they do, the whole 'facebook friends' thing distracts from it, and is easier and instantly know, so they settle, and don't really think about what they're missing.

    I like being on facebook and I think there's a lot of good there, but I do think it's done a lot of damage to our ability as a culture to relate to each other.

    And sometimes, I think people forget that 'checking facebook' doesn't always mean being avaliable on facebook for actual communication, sometimes it's just an opportunity to veg out, not a means of communication, and they get hurt they aren't part of that distraction because they are valuable people who deserve more.

    I don't really have any advice for making them understand, except maybe a private message or a real letter letting them know they are important but that real connection is really essential to you right now, and you don't feel like facebook is the only way to do that, but I don't know if that would work for everyone.

    I have a feeling I end up hurting people to, either by being less avaliable because I'm dealing with things in my own life or by being too opinionated. Sometimes the internet just makes me feel more socially awkward, which I'm sure isn't how it's supposed to be.

  3. I just wrote a million words about the postal age and facebook and how they resemble and don't resemble each other before I suddenly realized that it was way off topic.

    Christie, I agree with M. that you should send a private message about it, and add: everyone loves to get things in the mail! If you can afford the postage, send your slighted-feeling friends some cards or pictures or a story or something. It can be a big ol' letter, too, but it doesn't have to be. You can slip a note in there saying, "It's hard for me to keep up with Facebook, but I definitely want to stay in touch with you," or whatever you want to say about it.

    (Personally? I can't stand Facebook. I've used it for work a couple of different times. I don't object to the social-network thing in principle, but for some reason the interface on there is so counter-intuitive to me that every time I look at it I feel like I've lost another billion brain cells. Your mileage may vary).

  4. Christie: Ugh, Twitter. :)

    Masha, good post. I think the internet makes me feel less socially awkward (seeing as how I've always felt very socially awkward in person--it's much easier for me to present myself in writing and pictures than in speech and body language), which is probably why I'm addicted to it.

    I hang onto Facebook, but I regularly contemplate deactivating my account. It's such a good way to get to know the worst of people.

  5. I hang on to it too, I can't help it, there are so many people I would probably lose touch with but really enjoy knowing, so I stay, and besides, online, I can have a bit more control over how I interact. I know what you mean about being socially awkward in person, I still feel kind of awkward online, but I have more opportunity to self-edit. And that helps.

    It's definitly got a lot of good in there. I think being forced to moderate is the best way for me, I'm not completely off, but I can't check everything all the time, which I would, if the battery lasted all day. :)