27 April 2009

Back in the land of the living?

So, I (sort of) did it.

Seven days without social networking sites.

Funnily, just as I had raised myself to dizzying heights in terms of online update commitments (i.e. added Twitter to my already bulging list of internet lives), I fell drastically ill with ISNSCIS and felt so lost that when I received an Adbusters email imploring me to "do the unthinkable: unplug" I had to "take the plunge", as they suggested.

They proposed: "Say good-bye to Twitter and Facebook. Turn off your TV, iPhone and Xbox", and for some reason I decided to take them up on the offer. I made my own version, however, as I don't use TV, iPhone or Xbox, where I self-imposed a ban on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Skype and Blogger, but allowed myself Google/Wiki and of course email, as it is necessity. For me, this is still a big challenge.

Apart from a few minor transgressions (an urgent Facebook message, breaking the Skype-ban a day early to speak with a dear friend, checking The Sartorialist mid-week when I couldn't resist) I did pretty well. I realised how much extra time one has when not maintaining online pseudo-personalities. I found myself having nothing to do on the internet, where before I had a huge list of daily online 'must-dos' and 'must-checks'.

Because I wasn't checking others' Twits and Blogs and MyFaces and Spacebooks, nor was I managing my own, I had nothing to do with my laptop, Blanche, except put her to sleep after checking email. I wasn't even writing on this blog, so hadn't the reason of 'updating RRN' to use as an excuse for staying online. It actually crossed my mind that maybe I'd never return, but I realised I enjoy writing too much and, after all, who am I to turn my back on the phenomenon that has given me so much: the internet?

At the end of the day, a mere seven days away from social networking sites and the like is neither here nor there, basically irrelevant. It means very little and signifies only, and the Adbusters challenge proves this, that our lives are saturated with these sort of pseudo-structures, in which we live out certain portions of our reality. Pseudo-structures which enable us to communicate, exchange, inform, be informed, stalk, ignore, procrastinate, and miss a lot of what's going on in 'the real world'.

I'm certainly not convinced life is better without social networking sites, but I am convinced that they need to be used in moderation. I aim to moderate my usage, reduce my online presence a little, but at the same time acknowledge that, right now, 'the real world' is just as much online as it is off.


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