Lent is traditionally a time for giving up things – say, chocolate, wine or meat. This year, I felt the need for something else to abstain from. Something to which I have a rather ambiguous relationship.I have taken a deliberate break from social media.
I’ve removed the thumbnails from my pc and the icons on my phone for Twitter and Facebook. I still get some notifications – more on this later – but largely I’ve kept my back turned away.
I can list a variety of reasons:
- the unhappiness of so much wrong in the world crowding in on me
- the overwhelming amount of calls to action, ought-tos and moral panics
- the sheer unhealthiness of sitting so much – I owe my poor old body more respect
- the blather drowning out quiet reflections and self-examination
- the continuous not-quite-finishing of things
…but truthfully, I felt in my heart it was right.
Thus far, there are some definite practical advantages. Unsurprisingly, I have more time. More time to read and write for Serendipity Reviews, more time to ponder my GEA Editing course and more time to to walk down the beach. (I am still posting on Instagram)
I think the spiritual and creative benefits will take longer, but run deeper. That giving time and thought to those closer to me (literally) will nurture them more. That not having too many ideas swashing about in my head will give The Secret Project depth. That looking inside compassionately will allow my own voice to gain in strength and honesty.
There are definite disadvantages:
- I miss information
- I miss arguments on topics that interest me
- I miss those people I only ‘see’ on-line
- the feeling of missing out
- the feeling of invisibility – I wonder who, if anyone, will read this?
- worst of all, the inability to answer my friends’ cries for help – serious or not
That’s where I’m quite glad I had not worked out how to switch off all the notifications. I have broken my fast and DMed the odd person. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes because I have a bit of a Messiah complex ( which I hope this will help with) and sometimes because I’m nosey. Oh dear. Back to square one.
Still – I’m carrying on however imperfectly. This little retreat is interesting if not entirely comfortable. I believe it will prove worthwhile – but probably not a permanent exile.
You are absolutely right to switch off these procrastination tools as much as possible. Only when fingers tap keys and the brain is pregnant with new ideas, or exploring solutions to plot conundrums, do we, as writers, feel like we are achieving something. Or maybe that is just me. I checked in the other day to #UKTeenChat on Twitter for a whole hour and read every tweet and even tweeted a couple of times myself. But I saw this as business, as literary agents were also involved. All the other stuff is ‘Writerly Displacement Activity’ – a phrase I picked up from published author Simon Brett, and it has stuck with me, for that is ultimately what it is. Channel the energy into words of a story and the good time feelings will come rushing back. It does for me, though I, too, fall foul of social media and online distractions frequently 🙂
Good to hear from you, Mike. Thank you for the helpful hints – and good luck with your own work.