“Few people know how to take a walk. The qualities are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good silence, and nothing too much.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
I remember watching this powerful TED Talk by Sherry Turkle while I was taking a religion class one summer and, lately, I have been thinking of this talk again. I am wondering if I am “done” with social media.
Recently, this started with a follow I made on my Instagram account–I know! I followed a former coworker that I got along with most of the time but she could be wildly dramatic and over the top. When she sent me a follow request, because my account is private, I remembered why I blocked her on Facebook and did the same on Instagram. What changed in those few short moments was the realization that what I initiated was a superficial connection to someone who had put me off in real life, and that I had an internet presence that was disjointed from unplugged life.
Just as Turkle describes, I remember the optimism and excitement of the 1990s surrounding the nascent internet. I taught myself HTML and coded my own websites with a program called Hippie. I remember the chat rooms, which for a socially awkward teenager like myself were a lifesaver. The internet was a place to plug in, connect to share experience and wisdom, and build better lives in our unplugged worlds.
And beyond this one request, and beyond feeling connected but alone, I have felt disconnected and lonely. I felt more connected to the world on the day my daughter was born and I took one shitty picture with my shitty camera phone which I sent MMS to my real-life friends in my phonebook then I ever felt sharing a picture on Facebook. And I never lost friends because of politics. And the people I communicated with were real people with whom that I had real connections.
So my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 is to return to that 1999 way of interacting. Shunning a digital life for digital tools to enhance my real life and smaller but more connected social circles.