The items on my Friday to-do list remain unchecked. Christmas Eve dishes are still in the dishwasher waiting to be put away, and it is now the last Sunday of the year.
Laundry overflows the hamper.
Leftovers sit in the fridge ticking off the minutes until they expire.
Dust bunnies no longer hide under the furniture but lounge freely on the hardwood floors.
The guest bathroom looks like a dog took a bath and left a nasty ring in the tub. Oh wait, this one is not a metaphor – my son really did bathe his hunting dog and left the residue.
The Christmas break is almost over. A new decade starts in a mere two days. I have a doctorate to finish, a business to build, 100 pounds to shed, two significant trips to plan, a house to put back in order, a children’s book to publish, and . . .
There is so much on my proverbial plate. Excellent, exciting, motivating, life-changing goals, and adventures. But what have I done today? What did I do yesterday? And the day before?
I got lost on YouTube. Did you know Jon Gosselin had a ten-year gag order that has now been lifted? Do you have any idea if it was Ryan Seacrest or Ryan Reynolds who got his start in show biz as baby Jesus in a church Christmas pageant? I didn’t either. And now that I do, I’m not sure I’m the better for it.
I found 200 ways to make cranberry sauce while scrolling through Pinterest. I bought a pair of boots from an ad on Instagram and sent tons of emails to my spam filter. I’ve reached level 90 in Solitaire and mastered the art of identifying three-letter words in Whirly Word.
I spent hours scrolling through Facebook. I’m happy to know my friends’ twins were born and are doing well. I’m thrilled another friend is expecting her first child, that my cousin got engaged, and that my son has three photos in the US Army’s 100 pictures of the year. I’m sad to know my friend’s dad died two days before Christmas, or that another friend’s sister was killed by a drunk driver. But I’m also angry. Fuming at the idea that just because someone is hurting, their pain somehow makes it acceptable to spew ugliness on a public forum in the name of transparency and healing. I’m enraged by the close-minded, inflammatory political posts, fake news, and continuous downward spiraling of our society. I’ve seen the same memes, quotes, and jokes shared by just about everyone I know. I’ve lost brain cells, grew some more fat cells sitting on my butt looking at this stuff, and I still have the expanding to-do list of things I honestly do want to accomplish.
I wanted to step up on my soapbox and admonish posters to take the logs out of their own eyes before posting toxic statements. I wanted to remind those who profess Christ and post backstabbing comments to remember the biblical principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 to go to those who have offended them in private. I wanted to use my words like a sword in the battle combatting ignorance and selfishness. However, as is often the result of my righteous indignation, I tripped over the log hanging out of my own eye. No one tied me to my couch, strapped a smartphone to my palm, and made me scroll away the days of my life. I wasn’t tagged in the posts that made me angry. The members of my closest 723 digital friends didn’t single me out to pick a fight. They are just living their lives the best they know how. It is my responsibility to live my life the best I know how. I know social media has become an issue for me. While there are many good things about the digital age, there are as many downfalls. So for me, it is time to do something about the time-wasting rut I have fallen in to.
Friends and family who have untethered themselves from social media tell me it is the most freeing thing they have ever done. I tried deleting Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from my phone and scheduling time in my day to check them from my computer. This worked for me as well as setting a clock 10 minutes ahead to stop tardiness. I know the clock is set forward, so I mentally make the mathematical adjustment. I know the apps are no longer on my phone, but the internet still is, so I go to the .com versions. I am a social media addict. It isn’t enough to delete the apps. The accounts must be shut down.
I recently told a friend I intend to close my accounts effective 11:59pm December 31st. She understood my reasoning, but said, “what about promoting your business or marketing your book?” Good questions. The problem is I haven’t yet clearly defined my mission and vision statements, built my service packages, or designed my website. The text of the book is written, but the illustrations are not finished, nor is the layout done. Truth is, I don’t have a business to promote or a book to market. I need focused attention to finally break through my indecision and build a firm foundation before I can advertise or market anything.
When my daughter was much younger, she asked, “How old were you when your mama let you have a cell phone?”
“Thirty,” I replied, “And all it did was make and receive phone calls.”
Twenty-two years later, my phone is a mini supercomputer that cost twice what I paid for my first car. It is a great tool when used properly, but a terrorist holding me hostage when I abdicate self-control. I have thought about doing a technology detox for some time. I keep putting it off, though, because it’s scary to disconnect. It’s terrifying to think that if I step out of the digital world and ground myself firmly in real life, I’ll never hear from my friends again. Worse yet, that no one will even notice my absence. But, as my oldest son, who lives a social media-free life, is so fond of saying, “I have shit to do!”
I have a magnet that says, “If you really wanted to, you would.” I got it when I was trying to decide if I would apply to grad school. I thought I was too old to embark on a doctorate, lamenting that I would be 53 before I finished. A friend wisely said, “You’re going to turn 53 either way. Do you want to be 53 with a doctorate or 53 wishing you had gotten a doctorate.” I’m now 52 and officially a third-year student. One more year of classes and a book to write before graduating in May 2021. I really wanted to, so I am. I truly want to attain other real-life goals, so I’m taking that terrifying step to cut the digital clutter and focus on reaching those goals. I have started unsubscribing from digital newsletters. I can always resubscribe later if they prove valuable in the future. I have unsubscribed to digital scrapbooking newsletters that offer freebies because I’ve fallen into a pattern of collecting digital scrapbooking supplies instead of actually scrapbooking! I have deleted shopping and gaming apps from my phone and requested removal from text groups. Wednesday night, I will disconnect my personal accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
I need a break. I need to refocus. I need to do what is right for me to find peace and balance in a wobbly world. What do you need to do to find harmony for yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments.