Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pulling the Plug

A friend of mine recently posted a Facebook status update explaining that she would be taking a step back from social networking and that if anyone wanted to stay in touch, they should call her on her phone. What a concept. She's not the first of my friends to make such an announcement so it wasn't the first time I felt a twinge of jealousy and curiosity. But I felt it nonetheless.

I want to unplug sometimes. I really do. The Internet consumes me because I have become a social networking whore. Instagram, Twitter, Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Keek... I want to fuck them all. It's not just out of pure obsession or addiction but that plays a role in it as well. I have a different reason to want to be on the Internet and I think it's a good reason... I suppose everyone thinks their reason is good though, right?

I'm addicted to the Internet because it's connected me with thousands of people who can understand me. And when I say me, I mean the me I've been through each stage of my life. People who have moved around a lot. People who have struggled with drugs and alcohol. People who were outraged by SB 1070. People who married immigrants. People who love calzones. People who are obsessed with border dynamics. People who are separated from their children. People who dream. People who love Beachbody. People who have navigated the rough waters of  USCIS and come out alive but battered and bleeding.

If it weren't for this little Internet-box-machine-thingy-ma-jig, I wouldn't have met any of those people. I find that somewhat unsettling. Now, I can't deny that I've stayed awake until 2 am on a Tuesday playing Candy Crush and wondering how I'll be able to sleep if I don't pass level 140. I've had drunken nights where I watch dozens of YouTube music videos and posted some of those questionable videos to Facebook. I've scrolled through my insanely long Twitter feed until I've seen every single tweet since the last time I'd logged in. I've searched people's addresses on Google Earth before going to a party to make sure the person doesn't live in a neighborhood I might get shot in. I've seen enough Jenna Marbles videos to feel as though she is someone I know in real life. I've played 17 different games of online Scrabble at once. Maybe I did all that yesterday. I have the normal addiction, but I don't think that's the real reason I'm hooked.

I'm hooked because of the people I've connected with.

With that being said, the idea of unplugging and getting away from it all is still somewhat tempting. I've been extremely stressed in the past couple of weeks, trying to find some balance in my life, and it's certainly caused more than a couple arguments at home. Stress turns me into a raging bitch and my loved ones suffer more than anyone. This, of course, has prompted more than one person to suggest I just unplug for a bit and concentrate on life. Real life. Raymundo. Work. Sam. My home.

Maybe they're right. Maybe I'm not paying enough attention to the right things.

But I can't quite shake the idea that if it weren't for everyone I've met online, if it weren't for my Internet promiscuity, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be content with my life in Juarez. I wouldn't understand my husband as well as I do. I wouldn't know anyone else who was in my situation and I probably would have thrown tens of thousands of dollars down the toilet with immigration attorneys only to find myself at a dead end. I wouldn't have this blog as my outlet. My family wouldn't be a Skype call away. And as intriguing as the concept of powering down my laptop is, I'm just scared of the possibility of losing any of those connections. So for now, I guess I'll just continue my quest for balance?

It's a long and winding road my friends.

21 comments:

  1. Emily, I have really struggled with this too, especially as Jose can not grasp at all why I would be checking my phone before bed or as soon as I wake up in the morning. Sitting in front of the computer does consume me but this little black machine contains most of what keeps me sane. I'm trying to find the happy balance too which will most likely be spend my day on it while he's at work and the kids are in school and then shut it off in the evenings.

    I did stop playing all FB games though because they were consuming me and I realized that they didn't bring any true meaning to my day so that has helped a lot :)

    Good luck finding your balance! Krystal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Krystal! Good luck to you too... It's a vicious beast.

      Delete
  2. Facebook is the devil! But it is nice to see what my friends are eating for lunch.

    I know that there is a lot of wasted time on Internet, but the point you make of meeting all these people that share similar interests is in fact the remarkable thing about it. Imagine how many young people living in isolation because they are perceived different or not-normal compared to the people they live around - teens that are gay or perhaps socially awkward. They can search for things that interest them and meet new people who open up a friendships and points of views they share.

    Many older folks have learned to use the internet to research genealogy or catch up with people they left in their hometown 50 years ago. You can find anyone (and I don't mean that in a stalky, creepy way).

    Yes, spending hours clicking from one Tumblr page to the next is definitely a drain on my time, but afterall, it's art, and there is social value to that, right?

    If I ever commit a crime and need to go to prison, the worst punishment would be pulling the plug on the Internet and all my blogging friends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, you are right on so many levels Dave. PS. My husband is extremely jealous of your carpentry skills! Those chairs are awesome!

      Delete
    2. My husband is extremely jealous of your carpentry skills!

      Yet another thing I got from the Internet! Plans for Adirondack chairs. Yea Internet!

      Delete
  3. As someone who has moved around a lot I find facebook is the link that keeps me in contact with friends in each location. In the past when you moved, you maybe kept in touch with one or two friends, with maybe one note a year. Now- I feel I could go back to any of the cities that I lived in and see everyone without feeling like I've even missed a beat. Plus, how would I live through boring work meetings without being able to connect to the internet though my phone!

    Jenb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great point! I have moved a lot and honestly, because of Facebook, I still keep in contact with my best friend from the 1st grade. And that was 3 states, 1 country and 4 schools ago...

      Delete
  4. I am definitely in the same boat- I need the net because I've moved around so much, and out of the country, and I want to be able to communicate with my friends...I definitely feel happier being connected to everyone. So, not all online time is bad, just some of it. I have been learning what stuff I do online is just a time-waste, and what really helps me get through my days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. I do think it's a positive thing. Just a matter of prioritizing I suppose. I'm working on that!

      Delete
  5. I'm glad you didn't pull the plug. I've been reading your blog for about a year and I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I understand the temptation to unplug but finding balance is key. If it wasn't for the connections I made from the Internet, I don't know where I'd be today. I predict the line between internet connections and those we make IRL will become blurred so much so that there will cease to be a line and then we won't be able to turn it off.

    I have a 15 minute per day cap on social media. (FB, Twitter, Instagram, all of that.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. IRL. Acronym of the century!! Lol. I love it. And really? 15 minutes? Is that per social network or your combined total? It's hard for me to figure out how much time I spend because I do it here and there. Obviously I check in when I'm in line but I also do it if the computer freezes in the office, on my lunch break, in line again on the way home, after dinner, before bed, etc. I'm sure I spend more than 15 minutes.

      Delete
  7. [off topic] It took me awhile but I'm finally all caught up on your blog. I honestly wish it were printed as a hard cover memoir so I could have enjoyed it cover-to-cover. I know the story's not over either but it's been a good read.
    I understand the need to "pull the plug" and I've taken one or two face-cations myself- however i hope you don't take a break from this blog as I've really enjoyed reading it!
    take care!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Sarah! I'm glad you've enjoyed it!

      Delete
  8. Hey Emily,

    It's great you are questioning this topic, I understand. It's really hard sometimes to find a balance and I personally couldn't do it. I do miss seeing some of my friends that I normally wouldn't see, but I figure if the relationships are real, we will find a way to keep in touch.

    I have been Facebook free for 2 months. I use my phone less for sure but still find myself sucked in sometimes. I just got really tired of feeling hooked. I don't have any regrets. Good luck with finding your balance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sami! I wondered where you'd been... I'm glad you were able to find your balance. I think I'm on my way.

      Delete
  9. Facebook is THE DEVIL....
    Nice blog... I will be in touch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I am addicted to the internet..when Miguel was just a baby and I stayed home at him I had my baby/mom clubs. Then I got into contesting (yeah, I'm one of those crazy internet contesters..but I know you prob know that from my FB page..before that it was the Juarez forums and looking up the whole crazy process and connecting with people like you. Now it is my Mouthy Cancer Moms group that is keeping me spiritually fed so I don't have to go through this alone! The internet is basically like my savior in many ways. It has provided comfort, answered questions, and also paid out in the form of lots of winning (this is MY paycheck I bring home, thus justifying when the house isn't clean sometimes to hubby..lol). But I get you..at times I want to unplug, go read a book, get back to nature..clear my head like you clear you cache and erase cookies. I think it is a powerful thing when you can just walk away from it for a while. But I agree that without this Spoke and Wheel connection from it, we would have never "Internetmet" and for that I am grateful!

      Delete
    2. Jeni... you'll have to fill me in. What is contesting? And yes! I am so grateful that we have internetmet. Love that term by the way, I've never heard it. :)

      Delete