social media cleansing


several years ago i took a silent retreat for three days on an ashram in upstate new york. i embarked on this journey after i left my first job in new york at a global health communications firm, when a still small voice inside me started screaming that i was supposed to be a writer (or some such). because i had a little money in the bank, i was able to quit my job and take a few days just to listen to what it was saying. (it actually largely said i was mising love in my life, which is a completely different subject than this blog.) mine wasn't the ten-day one my girlfriend raved about, nor was it expressly a 'silent retreat' as the ashram was home base for the yoga society of new york. there were daily chants, meditations, yoga classes, i just did them largely in silence while journaling.

since returning from that retreat--now some six years later--i have needed to take periodic vows of silence in new york city proper when the commotion of life drowns out my inner voice. it's rather interesting to wrap one's mind around the fact that speaking is not mandatory; it is a choice. most things people communicate are nonverbal anyways and, furthermore, most things people choose to say really needn't be said at all. and tho i didn't have the pleasure of not speaking these past few weeks, i modified my retreat into a two-week social media cleansing. (as you might notice, i was silent on here for awhile.)

what it showed me was how much i've been missing real communication. facebook, twitter, blogging has all become a proxy for what used to be phone and housecalls. i know that, of course, everybody does. but what i don't always recognize is how much i depend on the social media to fill the real communication gaps in my life, the amount of friendships/relationships that don't exist in reality at all. so i am recommitting to calling, to visiting, to hanging out. to parsing the real from the virtual and putting more time and effort in the former.

my blogging may suffer for it, but i think it will be worth it.

i'm just writing this to say: call someone today. visit. write a letter. tell someone you care, that you're really here. turn off your blackberry (or at least the updates) and sit down with someone you love. today, for me, it's watching toy story 3 with my three-year-old nephew who likes to sit in my lap and give story notes the entire way. i want him to know that i am here, that i care, that i am listening. that's all anybody ever wants and needs. no amount of fb updates, tweets, or e-mails can really fill that need.

altho i must admit that social media has played an important role in resistance movements, it is a means of organizing and informing...not cohering or comforting. and for the vast majority of us, it is superfluous. --AL.

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  1. Toy Story 3 is probably way more fun watched with a kid + commentary. Fun.

  2. Absolutely! Sometimes, I have to remind myself to step away from the computer and have actual conversations with people.

    Toy Story 3 sounds like fun :)


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