A funny thing happened during my vacation. I thought. I thought a lot about a lot of things. Actually, that’s a lie. I thought a lot about one thing, mostly. The rest of the time was spent not thinking about much at all. It’s vacation. Thinking has no place in vacation. But I did think. Like I said. A lot. What I thought about was this place. The internet. Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and email and IM and even this blog. I thought about how it all doesn’t matter. Because seriously. It just doesn’t.
I mean, it’s a nice distraction most days, where you can be someone else if you ever wanted to change or be completely you if you don’t feel you can be you in real life or any hybrid of the two. You can hide your true self or exaggerate it. You can even be a dude if you’re a chick and vice versa if that floats your boat. With the internet, there are no rules. There may be some sort of unspoken rules or even rules that get repeated ad nauseum, but who the hell could possibly enforce them?
And if the internet is where you earn your living, well then that’s a different tune altogether. But for the vast majority of us it’s just an off-shoot of the rest of our lives. An extra. And sometimes, an intrusion.
Remember way back in the olden days when we didn’t have WiFi and smart phones and laptops? When our memories were kept by actually remembering them and not by micro-documenting them with photo sharing and blogging and tweeting and updating your status to reflect exactly what you’re doing at every single given moment? When we were actually present? No phone shoved in our face, “talking” to people we don’t know and will probably never meet, sharing personal details of our lives with them. Remember that?
I remembered those days this weekend. I was in a place very, very special to me with people who are the most important in my life. If you know me, you could guess where that was and who those people are. I saw things that I’ve seen a million times before for the first time in a long time. I really saw them. And I smelled the smells and heard the sounds and breathed that air. I can’t convey to you how amazing that air is. I can’t blog about how my lungs felt, I can’t tweet a picture and have you understand what it felt like to actually be there, present, breathing the sweetest air I’d ever breathed before. I can’t update my status with “wish you were here” because at that moment, I was there, not wishing anything would change.
There’s something to be said about stepping away sometimes. I enjoy the hell out of Twitter and email is absolutely my preferred method of communication. I’ve never been a face-to-face people person and so the internet has allowed me to open up and be vocal without actually having to open my mouth. But then again, maybe I’m supposed to be a quiet person. If that’s who I am naturally, why change that? And so I stepped away this weekend and unplugged, just to give it a go. Know what? It felt bizarre and unfamiliar … and wonderful.
I’m going to do that more often. I’m going to be here, with my family and by myself, not there, wherever it is you are. Not forever, and not right this moment, but more often than I have been. I’m going to start remembering to breathe this air and make memories that are just for me. Not you, just me, and I urge you to do the same. Put the phone down. Remember what you’re doing instead of documenting. Swim with your kids instead of Instagraming them swimming. Inhale and ingest and absorb a sunset instead of tweeting about how beautiful it looks.
Obviously this will be nowhere near a permanent lifestyle change. I still love Twitter. And I love my Bubblegum, which is Instagram for Windows phones. And above all things internetty, I still love this place. I love telling stories, fiction and non, and I love telling them to you. I love making things with words about my life and also not. But more often than I did before I’m going to put the phone down.
I’m going to Eirinn’s soccer game tonight. And that’s all you’re going to hear about that.