Unpleasant Sayings That Apply

For someone who talks like a sailor I can be prudish. For instance, I hate the word titties. I don’t know why. I also don’t care for the expression ‘shit or get off the pot’.

However, shit or get off the pot fits.

I was forced last weekend to disconnect from all things internet for 4 days. I jotted down some ideas about my days living like the Amish.

As it turns out, my forced social media blackout (FSMB) wasn’t as funny as I hoped it would be.

I’ve seen people post about taking a social media hiatus. My reaction is always the same. Fuck that. No Twitter, Pinterest, blogs or even Facebook? Fuck that. I have a routine. When we go away and I have to go without my laptop, at least I have my phone. It’s a little bit like I’m Laura Ingalls, but still, if I wear my bifocals I can still see everything I need to see.

Without my phone, though? I felt like a caveman. I had to use pen and paper.

I had actual withdrawal. Not even joking. High anxiety and a little shaky.

I had no idea I was so addicted to my electronics. I mean, it’s not like my nose is always in my phone, it’s not. I don’t talk and drive. I don’t wander around falling into fountains because I’m texting and when I have dinner with my family, we actually talk to each other. Still, I had some pretty severe anxiety the first 48 hours. I felt like I was forgetting something important. Like life or death important. I was anxious enough to take a xanax, but I didn’t. No goddamn way I was going to drug myself over the internet.

We missed the Madison’s show on the fourth because Randy was so sick. My lovely friend Lizzie offered to leave her smart phone with me while they were off playing music. When she offered, it was all I could do to not snarl like a bear and grab it from her. I was appalled that my desire to keep her phone was so strong.

So what I did, was decline her offer. If I wanted it that bad, then I really needed to do without.

These are the fears and anxieties that I wrote down while Randy slept the sleep of medicated:

My son isn’t at my finger tips. What if he needs me?

I can’t read the comments on my blog.

I can’t read tweets or follow back or bitch about Randy sleeping all afternoon on Twitter.

I CAN’T CHECK MY BLOG STATS.

For fuck’s sake, I even miss Facebook.

What if work is trying to get in touch with me?

What if my mother is trying to call me?

Priscilla, Queen of the cubicle is probably worried. (as it turns out, she didn’t once try to contact me while I was gone. What the fuck? I could have been eaten by a bear or something).

You know what? The fact that I spazzed over not being able to check out my page views doesn’t even begin to tell the tale of how obsessively I check that shit. It’s not healthy and I can’t find much funny about it.

I started keeping track of how many times I reached for my phone or turned to flip open my laptop, but I would have used up half my notebook making hash marks.

Here are the things I gained while alone with my thoughts:

(alone with my thoughts can be a disturbing place). 

I write different words when I write on paper. When I type the words right into WordPress, I’m typing to get to the end of the post. Writing on paper is entirely different. I have no end to get to so I end up writing a lot more shit than I usually do. Why am I writing different words? When I talked about this with Lizzie, she said maybe it’s because they are not immediately being seen by other people. It’s both a way to be a more free with my writing and a buzz kill because I’m not getting the rush of putting the contents of my brain on display as soon as the thoughts arrive.

I don’t self edit when I write with pen and paper. You should see the shit that isn’t making it in this post.

I admitted to myself that Randy is right and that until I start editing and doing more than just the fun part of blogging (emptying the contents of my head and then skipping away) then Rubber Shoes has gone about as far as it’s going to go.

I held a book in my hands. An actual book. Not the Kindle. I resisted reading electronically for a long time because I love to feel a book in my hands. Then I started reading on the Kindle and I do appreciate how convenient it is, but it sure as fuck doesn’t replace an actual book.

I sat outside on steps drinking coffee while Randy slept. I had nothing to do but appreciate the air and the sounds and the smells. My coffee was better on the third morning. The first day I compensated for coffee made in a coffee maker that wasn’t my coffee maker by making it too strong. The second day, I over-corrected and it was too weak, which was worse. Too weak coffee tastes like coffee flavored water that was used to clean a small dirty engine.

If I had a working phone or laptop, I never would have taken the time to consider my coffee.

Not that the coffee was my most important lesson.

What it comes down to is this: I’m not abandoning my internet habits, but I am going to modify them. My self worth can’t be found on the internet. I will not allow my mood to be dictated by how many people read my blog that day. It’s not good for me and it gains me nothing.

So, here is my shit or get off the pot moment.

No more wasting all my spare hours reading twitter and Facebook and playing Scramble on my phone. I have a writing project that I have been working on (actually, mostly not working on) for the past year. I need to make it a priority. Or start my next painting project.

That’s not to say I’m not spending time on social media. Of course I will…I enjoy it. I just can’t keep hiding behind it. I can’t keep using it to numb myself.

I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of days bitching about my job. If I continue to spend my spare time numbing myself then the only thing that will happen is I’ll continue to split my time between being numb and bitching about wanting my life to be different.

Decisions need to be made now.

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43 comments

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  • You’re not kidding that writing on paper is different than writing on the Internet. And typing is different than using a pen and paper, too.

    I’ve been making it a point to “journal” more (pen/paper) than to just rely on typing and blogging.

    And I hate that I have to schedule undistracted-ass-in-chair time, but whatever. 🙂

    • It wasn’t all bad. It’s frustrating that the act of writing takes so much longer than typing and I seriously could not read some of my words. I have to slow down a little when I write with a pen. I am going to start writing with a pen every day, though. I find the thoughts coming out different.

      I used to all the time. I kept a journal for YEARS. I don’t know why I stopped.

  • I am one of the odd ones. I am perfectly content to turn my phone/laptop off and simply leave it that way. I do like the perks of being able to look something up or use the gps to find where I am going, but I lived just fine before it. As a matter of fact, life was far more of an adventure without all that assistance in my opinion. I got the hubbin a smart phone a couple of years ago though…oh dear, what have I done? Prior to having his crack-i-phone in his hot little hand, he made frequent comments on how we were all going to be sorry when society collapsed because we were all so dependent and how he was going to be sitting pretty. HA! He is one of the worst now! I have unknowingly created a monster and wish he knew nothing of texting or facebook. *sigh…I hate it. I have been known to give him a sort of time limit on how long I will sit there while he crams his face into that evil little screen before I simply walk away. If he goes past that 5 or 10 minute mark, I do just that…walk away. In effort to re-connect with the man I live with I suggested a ‘no-phone-zone’ *GASP…apparently that was an unreasonable request. I can hardly wait for the day that he has a forced electronic downtime. But then again, that means witnessing a grown man turn into a 4 year old with some sort of medically documented temper tantrum disorder. I miss him and I don’t think that it will ever be like it was before. Oh well, hindsight and all that crap….

    • We’re pretty even, although I think I’m a little more connected than hubs. He hated the Scramble game on my phone, but we play together at lunch and it’s kind of nice.

      He makes up for the difference talking on the phone. My husband can talk on the phone like a 13 year old girl.

  • Inspiring post. It’s much easier to avoid the tough stuff when we have a place to hide from it 24/7. Having said that, I think I’d rather lose my left hand than my smartphone.

    • Not gonna lie…it was fucking hard. And I have since slipped right back into my old habits, but I plan to have a limited social media weekend.

  • I do compose on the computer, and have a hard time doing so on paper, but I don’t need an internet connection for that–I just use Word. I’m also an obsessive blog-stat-checker, so I feel you there.

    Years ago I worked for AOL, and this was when AOL pretty much was the internet (1999ish), and as a result, we who worked there were connected 24/7, in a way that people weren’t at that time because it just wasn’t possible. My husband and I were driving to New York City, and some topic came up that we were debating, and of course we were both convinced the other was wrong. I was a bit dismayed to find myself casting around looking for my mouse in the car so I could look it up on the internet. It hasn’t gotten better since then, either.

  • I used to check my stats obsessively too, and then I realized it doesn’t matter. If one person reads my blog and gets something out of it, that’s awesome. If only I get something out of it, that’s awesome too. I’ve railed against Facebook in the past, but have you ever noticed that people are literally addicted to Facebook, but no one ever says “oh Facebook is so fulfilling. I have do much fun on it and get to really feel connected with people.” Everyone I know who uses Facebook is more miserable than before. The more we get back to real things—pen and paper, real people, real bears instead of Animal Farm, the better off we’ll be 😉

  • Good for you Michelle! I’m glad to hear this decision. I started reading again a few weeks ago and put down twitter (more than usual at least) at night. I do feel better. I have also concentrated on working out this last week too. I love being on twitter but there is so much more to do than be hooked to the internet all the time! I am also very intrigued by this “writing project”! I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT!!!!

  • Sheldon writes in longhand everywhere. He carries spiral-bound notebooks with him no matter where he goes. He makes notes. He writes entire passages of whatever book he is working on and then types them into the computer when he can. He’s written every one of his books/stories in longhand first. He’s amazing.
    .
    I, on the other hand, type everything. Even when I’m off the Internet, I keep notes in Word about living like a cave person. Once I get my Internet back, I post these things to my blog. Probably of no interest to anyone but myself, but I too always wonder what life would be like if I totally disconnected. I couldn’t do that; I’m too much of an addict, but still I wonder.
    .
    Four days? Try over a month, and the only phone was a pay-as-you-go cellphone that Sheldon never lets me touch. (That’s probably for the best, all things considered.) I crocheted; I read; I typed my frustrations out. I complained about everything.
    .
    I’m just glad I have no kids at home when I have to phone/way of communicating with the world. THAT would freak me out right there. As it is, Sheldon freaks because he can’t call ME.
    .
    I hope Randy is OK now. Sick men are…… not to be desired.
    .

    • Aw dammit. I forgot to mention that the thing that REALLY upsets me when I have no Internet is that I can’t do my click-a-days at http://theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/ars/home
      .
      I’ve been clicking daily for so many years it’s a habit now and I get seriously upset that my puny click isn’t being added to the totals to do some good in the world.
      .
      Thank God I can drink without having the Internet or truly, I would be fucked.
      .

    • a month sounds like a nightmare.

      Honestly, I can’t complain about Randy when he’s sick. he’s not whiny at all…very low maintenance. Still..I hated for him to feel so bad.

  • I went on a trip with my aunts last year and when we arrived at our rent house we realized there was NO WIFI. I shat my britches. And then I had to explain why I freaked out, cuz none of them know I write or have a blog. It did turn out that my phone’s 3G was the only one that got a little reception from time to time, so I ended up being able to read comments and emails. That saved my ASS.

    I’m home with two boys 10 hours a day. I don’t have time for anything but SM this summer. My “real” writing (as in someday hopefully published shit) will resume August 27th. Until then, I’m not stressing out about it. OH and I never check blog stats. I think that’s unusual. I read about a shit ton of people that obsess over stats and I’m thinking this past year I’ve looked at mine less than 7 times. I do worry each time I publish that it won’t get comments, but thank God people seem to give a rat’s ass what I write. 🙂

  • Michelle. This is AWESOME, and I love you for writing it.

    I stage a small personal rebellion every time I do this, and I always feel like Wonder Freaking Woman because I spent 3 days without anything within reach that lights up. Like that’s the measure of my willpower. “Check this out. I haven’t peeked at Facebook, where no one I know ever interacts with me anyway, for 5 WHOLE HOURS. I can do ANYthing.”

    I love that taking unplugged breaks makes me remember that life is to *do*, not to watch. Books, with paper, and pages and signs of wear and tear, are lovely. They smell nice. The news and the internet and what’s going on *out there* don’t matter to me at all, and when I shut stuff off, I do feel that disconnect anxiety, but I realize it will all still be there when I get back, and the world won’t stop turning.

    The last time we went camping and I left my phone actually turned OFF in the car for the whole time, it felt like, “oh my gosh, what. What if something happens at our house? What if someone has a crisis? What if the pigs get out? What if someone DIES?” And I realized that of course anyone who really needs to find us…has Shane’s number anyway. And if anyone dies while we’re on vacation, well, they won’t be any less dead on Monday, (this actually happened last year–our neighbor died while we were on a mountain, and of course I got the text, 80 MILES UP IN THE WILDERNESS, and we went racing home). I felt sort of heartless and cruel and disconnected, but I also enjoyed the heck out swinging in the hammock with a book, playing Scrabble with my kids (on a board, with hand-written scores), listening to the water and the birds, and not caring ONE BIT about who was online or what was happening anywhere else. Basically my rule is…if I don’t see fighter jets over our camper, I’m pretty sure we’re OK for now, so please pass the Doritos.

    The more often I do this, the more OK I am with it. I remind myself that I grew up in an age where, when you left the house, you were just…NOT HOME. No one knew where you were, and that was OK. It wasn’t fun to break down, but otherwise, yeah…we were always fine, right?

    Also…Did you know there are like 20 shades of green in a forest canopy around one single camp site? Yeah.

    • OMG YES! The colors are amazing. And everything smelled so fresh and the smell was nostalgic..like I remembered it from a long time ago and it was wonderful.

      Could have done without all the bugs..but still.

      All in all, it was a good experience and one that I need to repeat often. BTW..here is a public thank you for listening to my email freak out the other day. 🙂 I am feeling MUCH better..all is well.

      • Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Sometimes you just have to, you know, write stuff down and hit *send*. Happy to help 🙂

        Going camping soon and can’t wait. Kayaking, our ATV, and a quiet beach, and no cel service at the camp site for 4 days. Woot.

        Of course, I may or may not also know the location of that exact single spot on the beach where there are 2 bars of service… (you know, just in case)

        • hahahah…and have fun camping. I LOATHE camping. It’s sticky and I like air conditioning..but I do understand the allure. I will be spending the weekend on my deck and hubs picked up a nice bottle of bourbon.

  • It’s funny, I’m on the net more than is healthy for anyone, mainly promoting, but still I’m on a lot. However when I’m out and away from it I don’t miss it at all. It fills a hole when I need it too but I don’t need it, so I guess that’s a good thing. When my computer died that was a real problem but for practical reasons mainly, but if I had a TV I wouldn’t have missed it for entertainment purposes at all, (or a fun person to be with, a deck and some bourbon).
    🙂

    Yep, I hope you do write your book.
    I’ll look forward to reading it

  • I went from May until July of 2013 with no internet and hated it. I read 30+ books, some of which (Last of the Mohicans, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tortilla Flats) I am very glad to have read now, but I really missed the internet. I don’t have a blog, I’m not on social media, but I am disabled, and the internet is pretty much the perfect activity for me as long as I also walk and do my exercises.
    You’re right about the difference between writing longhand and typing. I used to keep a journal, and I tried to transfer some of the better entries onto my computer, and they just weren’t the same. When I write with a pen, it’s like I get to make the font up as I go along, and without that it loses something. That was before my stroke, though, when my left handed handwriting was at least semi-legible.
    L am interested in your writing project. Is there a when or how about how we could get to read it?

    • I’ve never read Tortilla Flats, but I did start it once. Same with The Sound And The Fury..just couldn’t get in to them.

      Thanks, I appreciate that you are interested…but there really is no when or how yet..only the knowledge that it’s time to come up with some answers to those questions.

  • My phone went swimming last weekend and I’m too cheap/poor just now to go out and buy a new one — so I had to wait for a week for my dear sister to send me one of her old phones to replace it. I hadn’t realized how much I used it and depended on it — it’s my wristwatch, calendar, sleep tracker, music maker, social media checker, and, on occasion — an actual phone! I realized I knew NO ONE’S phone number! To call my daughter, I had to call my son (whose number I had written down at work) and have him call her so she could call me. It was ridiculous!

    • Yep…I don’t know any of my kid’s phone numbers. I know mine, Randy’s and my mother’s home phone because she’s had the same one for decades…other than that..I don’t know phone numbers any more. I’m glad you got a replacement!!

  • Yeah, it’s KEY never to forget why we do this Internet thing, and what’s really our priority. The rest may be as important, just that we fit in when and where it fits in, right? 😉

  • I’m glad you survived and are back. It’s funny but it seems like most of the “slice of life” bloggers all started out blogging because they had a “real” writing project they were trying to get finished. Then the blogging takes over and so much for the manuscript. I am in the same boat. This world is fun and lively but it can be addicting.

  • Oh man, I have been ashamed in secret for the better part of a year over how obsessively I check my blog stats and how page views can dictate my mood. I also have a book project that has taken a back seat to the blog. Good luck with this. I’ll be curious to see how you do.

    Maybe we need a support group. Bloggers Anon doesn’t quite sound right, though.

  • What is it with the word titties ? I can’t stand it either !!! As for ‘shit or get off the pot’ – I’ve never heard of it (sometimes we are a little behind down here !! LOL)
    I didn’t realise how much time I spent on SM until A called me out on it every time we sat in the car !!! Now I pretty much am on it at work and very occasionally at home.
    I used to think about my stats and how many page views I had had and then I thought that. honestly, I don’t say anything that important in my blog – why am I worried about how many people are reading it. For me it’s more a case of tracking how I am doing (or not doing !!!) or not tracking (which has been happening the past couple of months !)
    I’m with you about reading a real book vs an e-book. I love the convenience of my eReader BUT I love the feel of a book in my hand – either a second hand well loved book or a brand spanking new book that I get to turn the pages before anyone else.

    • Well, so far I have pretty much sunk back into my old ways, other than I’m writing stuff down on paper first. It’s frustrating because it takes so long, but I really think it helps as well. Maybe this will also be a lesson in patience for me.

  • Isn’t it ridiculous. I’ve taken to turning off the data on my phone when I leave the house so I don’t get emails and notifications on my phone. Otherwise, every time I hear that little beep or chime or whatever the hell it is, I’m checking it…or tapping my foot with anxiety because I can’t. I’m not a stat checker….it would only depress me, I’m sure.
    But I get it. I really do. I think the changes are a good thing.
    P.S. I’m not a fan of the word titties, either…..

By Michelle

Michelle

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