I’ve been thinking a lot about something this week, while I lay flat on my back after an injury. It’s one of those things I can’t rush. So here I am with my thoughts, and a list of things around the farm that are not getting done.
We have had to do an incredible amount of work this winter (as I dream of the frozen north and people who spend six months by the fire knitting-because our work gets done when it’s 50* not 113*F) that includes reworking almost our entire farm. See we did not realizing living in rural Northern California required such drastic fire safety measures, including nothing but grass or a 20’ high tree anywhere near our house.
Lots of things already weren’t getting done while we move literally almost every plant (save some lettuce and a couple of trees) away from our house. I’ve had two quilts for my nieces sitting on my dining room table, half finished, for over a year. Sweaters that I started are not getting finished. The house needs cleaning. And so we don’t end up like our parents, we have things, that need to find another place to live. LOTS of things.
So all of that is not getting done, and then I also find myself sliding down the slippery slope of social media into hours on the internet. Facebook was bad enough, and when I tried to kick the habit, I ended up blogging, doing a podcast and spending WAY too much time on Instagram. Oh and let’s not forget genealogical research. I had been doing that for years, and had recently started helping others find relatives (bio fathers, birth parents etc.) So there was that, which would literally eat days, even though I’m quick at what I do…
So there are a lot of things about the internet time that bother me. A lot. There are WAY too many interesting things that I’d really like to read, and some that I am determined to read for the sake of understanding our country and it’s problems. I have a lot of reading to do. And then I realize I’ve been looking at kittens and sheep and sweaters and yarn that right now I really can’t afford, and reading posts from lovely and amazing people all over the world…and not getting anything done. And this is a major problem.
To me, what’s inside the internet is not the world. The world is the world. And I’m not in it enough and it’s wrecking my health. And I recognize this sort of problem, because many years and many selves ago, I had a problem with alcohol. I am still an alcoholic and I still can not drink. And you know what? This seduction of the Interwebz and spending all that time on social media feels JUST LIKE trying to quit alcohol. Or sugar. That’s another issue I have, one I’m sure is going to cause cancer any day. You know social media pays people to make it more addictive, right? Just like food companies.
I need to be focusing on my health. Ten years ago my health crashed and I had to cure myself, because doctors at that time didn’t know what to do with what ailed me. I need to focus on something other than the internet.
And I keep coming back to a couple of things…I long for the days before the internet. Yes I do. Books, phone calls, letters, and time spent in the garden or the woods. I really feel like the younger generations are setting themselves up to be hooked to the machine, just like in the Matrix. For those that are young, I don’t think they see how close they are. For those of us that remember a time before, we see it plenty well. We see them get lost down millions of rabbit holes that might as well be heroin.
If I have to choose, I would choose to live in a hollowed out log in the forest rather than be too plugged into unreality. I do not think it’s good for us. There is plenty of information that shows that too much net time increases depression, apathy, anti-social behavior and even suicide. I can see it in people I know. I won’t be that.
Also, when we interact with people on the web, we don’t know who we’re “really” dealing with. After helping support a friend (yes on the internet) who was receiving literal death threats over what she does for work, I researched and found that there are corporations, and perhaps now we know, entire countries, that are behind fake accounts, fake likes, trolls and well, people who send death threats. I am sure it’s made to silence some voices. I know several people with great bodies of work on line who have had their websites destroyed. It’s a conscious action by someone. And I’m not going to play that game.
And I am getting old. I’m almost 60. Sometimes I think that yep, this world now belongs to a completely different generation, I have NO idea what the freak they’re talking about half the time, and I should let them have it. Run with it. Please. Fix it. It’s broken and I’m sorry for the mess you’ve been left. I pray it sustains you and your children…But I can’t keep up.
And I have a lot of friends my age that have DIED. It’s weird-all us crunchy granola eating feral types and they’re dropping like flies. Most from cancer. I don’t want to die yet. I want to see my nieces and nephews to adulthood where I can look them in the eye as an adult and talk to them. Tell them the stories…So it kind of comes down to a choice between my health and the internet. And when I’m dead, I want to leave tangible items for my family, not awesome memes.
Another thing: I’m a very private person. I have previously been a normal person (before the internet), a very public person (with projects I used to be part of) and had previously chosen a private path with some other projects I’m currently working on. And with my illness and where we live now, I have chosen to have stronger boundaries around who comes in my home, who knows where I live and what I do, and who I interact with. Literally the one person I know who survived stage four cancer credits a large part of that to removing any toxic people from her life. Period. And it works. Negativity and anger makes us ill. We know now that the vibration of that, literally the vibration of it, can make our bodies ill. While to be near someone who is joyful and positive can build us both up. Bowen Therapy has taught me that.
And definitely what I’ve learned is that not everyone you come in contact with on the internet is good. Dear godz the way people act, when they can hide behind a cutesy name and a fake photo. All it takes is a few people that are probably not well humans to scare the crap out of you when they mention where you live, or say something creepy about your kids, defame the crap out of your business, or like my friend, threaten to kill you. The real world is not a safe space. Neither is the internet. Any illusion of safety is probably being used to mine you or sell you something. And we KNOW it’s happening.
And since I’m one of those that remembers “before”, I’m not buying it. Besides, I’m on a very limited satellite internet connection (no phone, which most assume I have-can’t afford it and it doesn’t work here) so literally a good check of Facebook and Instagram can eat up my daily allowance, which is something like $4.50 a day-which is something I may not be able to afford eventually. Spending that much time on the internet is a socio-economic privilege. And I have food to grow. It’s not a choice, it’s how I live on less money than most people.
If I try to post a video, I will literally have to stay up until 2am or drive more than a half-hour to a place where I can use their (slow) internet. It’s a HUGE time sucker when there are so many other things I have to do.
So it was a strange time in my life to start a podcast. Choosing to film myself and put it publicly on the internet is VERY out of character for me. Which I guess is why I’ve been reluctant to podcast. But I appreciate others who do so, especially those who have a very chill or joyful vibe. You people make my day and I look forward to your faces on my computer screen.
But I’m not sure-have never been sure, that I want to podcast. It’s an incredible amount of work, filming, editing, cutting in music. I like the editing but I suck at filming and my equipment is decent but old and not terribly functional anymore. And I can not afford new equipment. Situations change and some things are no longer in the budget. So I’m shopping from stash and all that…
But I just can’t keep up with everything there is to do, least of which-LEAST of which is the internet and everything in it. So something has to give.
And no, I’m not going to be doing genealogical work either anymore. The data used and the costs involved in researching are not something I can afford anymore. It is also now physically uncomfortable for me to sit at a desk.
All that to say I’m not going to be podcasting anymore. I’m going back to a life where people are real, not digital. Part of me wishes I could be the girl with the camera at Rhinebeck or Vogue Knitting Live or Stitches West, the social butterfly going to all the events (good godz who can afford them!) and that I had the youth and the physical health/stamina to be that. But I’m not. And I can’t be. So, yeah, eventually I will be rolling myself back into the obscurity of the tangible world. Of grass and trees, sheep, vegetables, knitting, cooking and the immanent connection with the real Web. No carefully curated photos of the hip cool me to show for it. I may have accounts on social media (because who am I kidding I can’t give them up, family and kittens and all that) but they will be private accounts and I am hopeful without so much input I won’t use them as much. The whole posting on the blog, Facebook, Instagram and wherever to boost the Youtube video is NUTS. I’ve tried the January resolutions, the social media diet, so let’s just say this is a social media colon removal and stomach stapling. And it’s permanent.
Remember what’s real folks.