Recently I had the privilege of attending a pre-showing of the movie “A Hidden Life.” To say that I was profoundly affected would be an understatement. I sense that there will be other changes occurring in my life as I continue to reflect on the quiet faith and conviction of an Austrian farmer, yet there is one that I feel I must make in the new year.
That change is to leave Facebook, at least the public, manually posting part. (My PeaceGrooves and Lyndaker Inlay pages will update automatically when I post to my blogs for now I think, but I will not be maintaining them or overally obsessing about visits, comments, etc).
I have appreciated connecting and re-connecting with many folks I have known over the years. I have been encouraged by comments and likes for various posts or endeavors I have shared.
Yet I have also been frustrated by the tendency for folks to engage in online discussions that are really not very productive or to present opinions that they otherwise would not dare to do so face to face. In other words, there seems to be a greater appreciation of the relationship, lack of ego as it were, when one does not have the distance the internet provides. There is also an illusion of it being a safe place to share anything when the reality is, it is anything but.
There is a moment near the end of the first Highlander movie when the main character states that with his new powers, if he is quiet, he can hear the thoughts of everyone in the world. As much as I would love to, I can’t, nor can I keep up with the lives of my friends on Facebook. I’m not the Highlander. Nor am I God. I cannot nor should I strive to be omnipresent. And it can be overwhelming at times looking into the rather strange window that persons choose to present on FB. As much as I feel I have something to share too, there is quite a cacophony out there, with a plethora of voices competing to be heard, and so, as difficult as it may be, I am going to remove one voice, my own, from the noise.
I began by limiting the notifications I received, even at the cost of missing birthdays. Still I found myself succumbing to the temptation to visit FB. I continue to be in the process of limiting all of my notifications, because I am realizing that my everyday life is constantly being interrupted and my ability to remain attentive is subverted by the distractions. I have yet to find a notification, however important, that fits the definition of “the one necessary thing.” I must ask myself if I am growing more receptive to the still small voice that calls me from my cave (internet cafe?) or less so as a result.
The older I get, the more I realize that I am on borrowed time, and there is no substitute for real rather than virtual interactions with people. If I am honest with myself I have fallen into the illusion of connection that FB presents. I must also confess that I have sought out validation based on responses or lack thereof to my posts. And I must ask myself if my online presence is truly Christlike or is it quite frankly about feeding my ego?
I must admit that I spend way too much time online. Am I happier as a result? I don’t think so. I also wonder if some of my discontentment is fostered by my scrolling through FB posts. I did see a survey awhile back that stated that folks who left FB were less informed, but happier. Am I the only one obsessed with information, suffering within the paradox of sensory overload yet never getting enough? And do I really want to keep giving away pieces of myself and my loved ones to the internet giants?
Part of this is about taking my life back. Like Pavlov’s dog, I have been well trained. And similarily, no matter how much I salivate, the bell, however loud, is no substitute for real food.
I’m not withdrawing from the world. Rather I hope to be more fully engaged in the world….the real one. I seek less face-time or Face-book, and more face to face. I invite anyone to visit or give me a call. My line and door will always be open.
Or feel free to comment here or zip me an email. I do intend to continue to explore contemplative writing as long as it does not feed the ego and remains prayer, which requires much practice. To that end, I have found blogging quite helpful. Again I welcome your responses and reflections here now and for future posts.
I hope to do more longer length writing. Perhaps on paper like I used to and not so much on the screen. I’ll keep working with my hands. I’ll still have an online presence I think but I want to be fully open to the possibility that perhaps I should have none.
Other changes are in the wind I think as I continue to reflect on what it means to live A (more) Hidden Life.