Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Much of Your Life Are You Missing?

My Internet friend--and mama-style-guru to the world--Susan Wagner wrote a post the other day about unplugging herself from social media for an entire weekend. (Be sure to read the comments, too; very interesting.) No e-mail, no blogging, no iPhone or Blackberry, no Twitter or Facebook. You know what she did? She hung out with her kids and her husband. She engaged in activities that didn't involve a small screen. She did all sorts of things we all used to do, all the time, before many of us discovered social networking.

I know a lot of people in my real life who don't spend hours every day online. In a lot of ways, they seem calmer and more fulfilled and less busy than those of us who do. I bet they pay more attention to their children. I bet they miss fewer moments, and have more conversations.

I've thought about this issue a lot. A LOT. Like, many, many, many times a day, every day, for months if not years. Sometimes I get sad when I think back to when Julia was a baby and visualize how different my household's life was then. We didn't spend all that much time on our laptops back then. We didn't have iPods. The Internet is a good, even great thing, and I have made some friendships and developed some support systems that have been integral to me as an at-home mom; keep in mind, when you're a full-time at-home mom, especially when your children are not yet in school, there are many days you have minimal contact with other adults during the day. It can be very hard. Without the Internet, I would probably be a lot more lonely than I am now. (For one thing, I wouldn't know Susan! And, Facebook is how my neighbor and fellow bus-stop-mom found out that Julia was throwing up all Monday night, and thus offered to pick up saltines and Pedialyte for us at the grocery store.)

But by and large I think living online makes most of us miss out on an awful lot of our actual, in-the-moment lives. And I don't think any of us will care, years down the road, that we didn't tweet quite enough or post enough updates on Facebook; I do think we might wonder if we gave too little to our best, real-life selves, children, and homes, and too much to electronic devices connected to the Internet.

What say you, fellow social media users? Who among you could honestly unplug for an entire weekend (or an entire day, or an entire week)? I'm not talking about work stuff during work hours; I'm talking about purely recreational social media use.

What would happen if you did? What would you miss out on? And what would you tune into?


Mary S. said...

Very interesting post. I try to stay offline entirely one day a week (usually all-day Saturday or from Saturday noon to Sunday 6 p.m. or so). I don't always succeed, but often do, and usually I get a lot more done that day around the house, etc.

Facebook is particularly tempting -- not because I post much, but because I like to see what others are up to. (I work at home and it's a virtual water cooler for me.) That said, I am considering dropping facebook in a month or so because it is such a time waster for me. (Right now, I facebook chat with my daughter who is studying in Europe and it is very worthwhile for that.)

Great post. I'll be interested to see what others think.

Angel said...

I agree! Lots of time wasted online that could be better spent with my children. Sometimes it bothers me, other times I think 'gosh darn it, I deserve these moments to myself'! I LOVE the idea of one day a week having an offline day. Might have to try that... But I do think as a SAHM it is needed for pure sanity some days. And for keeping in touch with my huge extended family and other SAHM's, it can't be beat. :)

Mom and Kiddo said...

I find that my children actually prevent me from going online too much since they want to play with the computer when they see it. In fact, I have to keep the laptop out of sight even if it is off! My online time is thus usually limited to when they are asleep (like now).