Thursday, December 19, 2013

TV and the air we share.

After reading a post about the dangers of Social Media, I began to panic a little bit.  So many of the things Glennon wrote about her experiences with Social Media were so completely and totally true about me.  The only difference came when she noted that the benefits of Social Media are important to her and so she will work to have Social Media in her life in a Life-Giving way rather than a Soul-Sucking way.

That's when the panic came for me.  I don't know how to do that.  I gave up Facebook a few months back for a while and noticed that I felt better.  I hated that I felt better because I was missing so much of the lives of so many amazing people.  And, luckily for me, they said they were missing me, too.  I thought I had it all under control and so I went back.  Like an on-again-off-again relationship, it was good for a while and I thought, "see, I can do this!  I can have a healthy relationship with Facebook!"  But it didn't take long before I was feeling yucky again and decided that I needed to make a clean break, forever.  You know what sucks about breaking up with Facebook?  It asks you 947367 times "are you sure?" and then sends you a freaking email letting you know that you dumped all 500 of your friends and that they hope you'll come back soon.  Damn you, Facebook!  I'm not breaking up with my friends, I'm breaking up with you!  Leave me alone.  You won't miss me and you know it (how many billions of members are there?!), so just leave me alone!

Then I cleaned out my Twitter of celebrities that post every .00072 seconds and went down to 1) people I actually know and like and would have lunch with if we were in the same city and 2) Upworthy and Soul Panckace.  That Social Media formula has been serving me pretty well.  I watch lots of videos of lots of amazing people who are changing the world or their world.  Generally, Twitter makes me smile.

But Twitter doesn't help me feel more connected to the world I live in.  While I'm smiling, sometimes I'm feeling super extra amazingly lonely.  None of those world-changing people know me or desire a relationship with me.  Sure, if our paths crossed, we would be fast friends and they would ask, in all honesty, "Erin, where have you been my whole life?!"  (Okay, I just tell my self that because it sounds awesome.  Obviously, I know that I would not make complete the life of every person on the planet.)  And you know what?  The actual real people in my life - like the ones who know and can spell all 3 of the last names I've had - they're changing the world and their world, too.  Unfortunately for me, all of them live really far away from me.  We all know I'm a hyper-extrovert and so sharing the same air with friends and family is life-giving for me.  We don't share air with people over Facebook or Twitter or even over emails.  So the internet, while a noble substitute for seeing smiles and holding hands and being swept up in laughter, cannot be a life-giving force for me.

Okay, fine, Erin.  So Social Media is not your thing.  That's okay.  What does this have to do with TV?

All of that was to bring you along on the journey my brain and I experienced today.  As I was thinking about all of this and wondering how I could feel less lonely even while so many of my loved ones live so far away.  When I was in the process of transitioning from a married lady to a single lady and I wanted to desperately to make sure I was healthy, happy and whole as a single lady, Lois reminded me that we (yes, even us hyper-extroverts) can be alone without feeling lonely.  Before Hubs came into my life and on the days The Dimpled Wonder was at his other house, I was pretty good at being alone and not feeling horribly lonely.  I'm pretty awesome, I discovered.  Spending time with me was pretty great.  While thinking about those months, I remembered that I didn't watch a whole lot of television.  In the apartment, I didn't have cable or internet or even an adapter box for the TV to watch local channels.  I had a handful of DVD's and Former Husband was perfectly willing to let me borrow from his (our) massive collection.  Even still, I just didn't spend that much time in front of the television, or any screen for that matter.

Then Hubs came along and he made a valiant effort to live with almost-no TV.  Screen time is his drug-of choice and has a pretty good handle on his addiction.  He's more of an introvert than I am and finds social media and movies and TV series to be interesting and fun and useful and maybe even life-giving.  Everyday he has something on Hulu or Netflix or Youtube that he wants to share with me and I watch them (let's not talk about what happens when I IM him a link to share with him.).  He knows me well and knows what will make me smile and I usually am grateful that he shares with me.  But I think, as long as I am physically removed from most of my loved ones, I can't have a "normal" relationship with TV (or Social Media, but we've already covered that).  When I watch a "marathon" of a TV series, I have dreams about the characters as if they are real people and as if I live in their world.  Hopefully I'm not the only one that happens to.  Anyone, anyone, Bueller?!  Anyway, I think the fictional world of TV (or the far-off world of Twitter) gives me a chance to ignore my loneliness but offers me no solutions.  In fact, I think it pushes my loneliness farther off so that it hits me harder when the screens go dark.

So I'm going to take an intentional break from TV, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Twitter, Upworthy and all of it.  I look at a screen all day long for work, so I can't say I'm going to go without screen-time, but I'm going to take a big break from the rest of it.  If the boys want to watch a movie as a family, I will ask that it is one of the zillions of DVD's we already have (so we don't get lost in the Netflix vortex).  I don't hate the TV or the internet, but I think it's time for me to set some stronger boundaries on our relationship.

Between now and January 27th, I will hopefully write a lot, read a lot, clean my house a LOT and find ways to share some air with some amazing world-changing people.

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