On not wanting to miss it.

I have been feeling like this a lot lately:

You Had Better Hurry

You Had Better Hurry — Read those blogs, write those posts, comment, tweet, ignore more goddamn app requests on Facebook (Public Service Announcement: even if I adore you and/or your work, I will almost certainly not become a Fan of it, or you) — and oh, yeah, live that life that happens offline.

A frequent exchange at our house: “What are you doing?” “Reading the Internet. I was almost done, but then there was more Internet.”

And, duh, the existence of interesting conversations online, and the desire to follow and participate in them, these are not bad things. But when I’m away for a while, and I’m trying to catch up, I can feel the anxiety build: what have they been talking about? when did that become an in-joke? wait, do I have the faintest notion what that hashtag is even referencing?

It’s nuts. I read fast, so in some ways, it’s easier. But argh, sometimes I do wonder how the people inside the computer got to be so important. (I love you all.)

Any strategies for maintaining good boundaries in a relationship with the Internet?

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  • sd
    July 23, 2009 at 12:16 am

    once in a while, just say fuck it and mark all as read. anything really important will be referenced by someone, probably.

  • sara z.
    July 23, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I have noticed this: when I’m away from internet things because I’m on vacation – like away from home – when I get back it takes me like 8 minutes to catch up on everything (yeah, involves a lot of marking as read) and I don’t feel bad or left out. When I’m forced away from the internet because of busy-ness or deadlines or work or whatever, I totally get that anxiety you describe. So now I try to remind myself that I was fine when I was on vacation, and I’ll be fine if I miss anything now.
    Also, sometimes for me “none” is easier than “a little.” Internet-free weekends have worked now and then, only skimming email inbox for anything important, or not even doing that.
    And, I have email notifications turned off for ALL my social networking stuff. Facebook, myspace, twitter, etc cannot invade my inbox.

    As for the interesting conversations online, I realized awhile back I just can’t participate in al of them. a) they often make me anxious about writing because I know too much about the critical dialog and on a bad day can feel like I’m guilty of every single thing people say they hate about YA b) not enough time.

    (btw I think all this is actually a giant social problem for humanity, and not just this little bad habit some of us struggle with.)

  • Peggy
    July 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    for me, online is:
    extension of Self,
    so VERY hard to disengage!

    I found having the iPhone (internet in my pocket) helped with the ‘missing out’ worry somewhat. And joining Tw helped also. But since both of those gestures put me further IN, not sure they helped-helped. I try to remember to go running. Meeting up with people in RL help-helps, but, you know, they’re not always available/are often not available.

    I think maybe realizing that you can’t keep up with all of it, combined with realizing you can jump back in after a gap and just leave the gap there, as it were, and it’s OK; i.e., conceptually moving away from the utopia of comprehensiveness, helps more. But, you might have to practice that as a mantra before you even kind of believe it!

  • Deborah
    July 24, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I have found it useful to set a timer. And to have a plan in mind, before I wander onto the internet, about exactly what I will be doing next, even if it is as simple as Get up and water the tomatoes. So then the timer dings and I blink up blearily and think, Huh? Already? and then I think, Oh yeah, tomato time. It works best if the next fun thing/task involves physical motion, which seems to wake me up from Internet-stupor and re-set my perspective maker.

    Also, using social tools to make real-time dates so that the days are peppered with RL encounters.

    And possibly having a little list posted next to my computer entitled Other Fun Ways to Spend Time, so that my dazed eyes can settle there and be reminded of the rest of life and so break the trance.

    Also also, I have found that having a little dog helps.