2014 Suzanne Judge. Powered by Blogger.

On vacation, focus & cutting back the noise

>> Monday, August 26, 2013

Well today's the last day of our summer vacation. It's been an amazing 10 days, and I'm just really grateful to have had a solid block of time off with my husband, where we could relax and "vacate" from the busyness of our lives. We had a stay-cation, but the awesome thing we've discovered about living in London is that we're now so close to all our favourite Ontario beaches! We spent the majority of our days hangin' out at the beach (Grand Bend, Port Stanley, Sauble) and discovered some new ones along the way (Port Franks - gorgeous beach there!) We never did make it down to Long Point (one of our other faves), but the summer's not yet over yet, right?  :)

I've always been a bit of a fish, so swimming and just being near the water automatically slows me down and brings me an amazing sense of calmness and fullness. Unless you're a water-person yourself, it really is hard to describe exactly how happy being on the water makes me. The best I can probably do is say that I feel most like myself when I'm there. It helps centre me and slow down the wheels in my head that I feel are spinning at about 1000 rotations a minute most of the time. The immensity of water, the force of it I think - kind of forces you to remember that your problems are not nearly as large as you thought they were, and the beauty of it is a constant reminder that God is everywhere and in everything.

I also love how being in the water brings out the kid in everyone. Chris and I spent another day at Port Stanley yesterday, and met up with my mom and dad for a day of swimming, talking and eating. It was a perfect beach day - not too hot, windy but not too windy, and big waves. We had a great time playing in the waves, and I'll never forget how hard we all laughed as we splashed about and got pummeled by one wave after the other. You know those moments in life that are so perfect you actually think "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life" - I definitely had one of those yesterday. Me, my mom and my dad - splashing about in the water laughing hysterically like a bunch of kids. It was perfect moment in time, and defintely a highlight of the entire week!

To change gears a little bit (well, completely actually) - one of the other things I've continued to spend some time reflecting on this past week off (something I've been thinking about / reading about / researching) for probably a good 8 months or so now - is our use of technology/smartphones/social media and how that's changing the way we interact with each other, the way we process information, the way we use our time, and our overall behaviour. Don't worry - this is not about to become a huge rant against technology, just some things I've noticed for myself and what I'll be doing with that in my own life.

Here's the thing - for the most part, social media / smartphone technology has not improved my life. It's made it more convenient, that's for sure. But if I'm being 100% honest with myself, it hasn't made me smarter, improved my character, helped me focus, helped me achieve any goals or deepened my relationships. It has - helped me share what's going on in my life, helped me keep up-to-date with what's going on in other peoples lives, helped me keep up-to-date with what's going on in the world, and made me more accessible.

It has also though - made me dependent, stolen my focus, stolen my time, & made me believe I have to keep people up-to-date with what's going on in my life, and have to keep up-to-date with what's going on in other peoples lives.

Now I'm not neccessarily saying that keeping people up-to-date with what's going on in your life and vice versa is a bad thing. What I've really been thinking about and looking at is why it's become such a huge thing for us in our society and why we seem to be becoming so addicted to it.

I can only speak for myself of course, but I know I'm probably not the only one who has a feeling that this is not good for us - that we're going down a road we either shouldn't be going down, or we're travelling along it so fast we're eventually going to crash. When you're sitting at the beach, or a restaurant (or anywhere really) and look around and see the majority of people immersed in something they're doing on their phones and not in the people who are actually sitting next to them or the environment around them - warning bells start to go off.

When something's happening, and people are focused only on capturing the moment on camera and not actually enjoying/living in the moment - warning bells start to go off.

When people no longer have the focus to carry-on conversation with one another without getting distracted by their phone - warning bells start to go off.

It just doesn't feel right - why do we care so much what's going on in our online worlds that we're willing to ignore what's right in front of us?

Who among us hasn't gotten a slight thrill when you notice a like or comment on something you've posted on facebook? Who among us hasn't felt validated when someone retweets something you've posted on twitter? And what about instagram, what about pinterest, what about all the other social media apps we're using?

Again - I'm not saying the technology is neccessarily bad, but the question is why? Why do I feel the need to post what I'm doing all the time on twitter or facebook? Why do I feel the need to post pictures of my day on instagram?

"Back in the day" for example - we used to take pictures, get them developed, then put them in a photo album to keep as a memento of that season/occasion in life, and maybe show them to our family and friends when they came to visit. Now with technology, we can show them to everyone - but of course we usually only show the pictures that have been edited so they look professional, and we only show the moments that make our lives maybe look a little more "elevated" than they actually are. Life isn't edited - life doesn't have filters you can put on it to make it look better - but that's what we're doing - that's what I'm doing! Turning life into an edited version of itself and then sharing it with anyone we can - it's like we live in this weird, pseudo-reality and have these avatars that are our spokesmen.

I bet some people know how to use it right. They've somehow been able to strike the right balance and use this technology in the way I suppose it was meant to be used at its inception. But I would hazard a guess and say that most of us don't use it "right". I know I don't. I know when I first joined facebook I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with my close friends and family - share pictures and keep in touch more frequently. But then it morphed into something else entirely for me. It morphed into someplace where I was getting updates from a ton of people, that while it was nice to see from time to time what some people were up to, I was also getting updated on things that in "real life" they probably wouldn't update me on. There's so little filter online - people will share anything (and sometimes everything), and frankly it just turns into information overload. I only have so much I can take in before I start to shut down a little, and the amount of information I was taking in online had started to affect the information I was trying to & having to take in "offline". My focus dwindled, and I realized that what was once supposed to be a handy "tool" for me to keep in touch with the people I loved the most, had turned into something that was causing more harm then good. I decided to take a short facebook break, then decided to take a break from it for the entire summer. And it's been good. The people who needed to get in touch with me still found a way to get in touch with me, and any information I needed to find out I would have been able to find elsewhere (although there was nothing that I absolutely needed to know!)

It wasn't a complete social media break though - I've still been using Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And really - I've probably tweeted/instagrammed more since I gave up facebook, and when I think about the real reasons why I've been doing that - it would probably be because I'm still looking to feel important in some way. I'm still looking for some sort of outward validation that what I'm doing is important and people care about it.

It's not healthy though, and it still doesn't feel right. I realize that validation is not all bad - it's a form of accountability and we all should be accountable to some people (ie in the way I am accountable at work, in the way I am accountable to my friends and family). But validation in the form it comes in with most social media I've been using is a weird beast to struggle with. Who I am and how I value myself should not be in any way shape or form dependant on how and what other people "approve" of, but it seems that's the direction I've been starting to go down with my social media usage, and the direction I see so many other people going down.

So what does this all mean? Well to start, I'm going to continue my facebook sabbatical. I'm also going to be saying good-bye to Twitter for awhile, and adjust the way I use instagram and pinterest. My blog I'll probably keep open - I still really enjoy writing and this has never been something I've used for any sort of recognition or validation (and has actually helped me focus instead of being a distraction).

We'll see how it goes and if some time "away from it all" and more "aware of it all" is as good as I think it will be.

Anyway - this did turn out to be a bit of a lengthy post! Again - I would like to stress that my experiences with social media technology are not everyones experience. If you're one of those people who have managed to use it in a way that's been truly beneficial to you in meaningful ways, then I really do commend you!

I also am completely aware of the irony in posting this on facebook/twitter. The reason I am is because I do have some people who have preferred to keep in touch with me via those outlets. If you're one of those people, I wanted to let you know that while I'm not going to post my email on here - if you'd like to keep in touch you know how to find me.

:) Suz 


  © Blogger templates Sunset by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP