Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pulling the Plug

Despite the name of this post and that it appears on a blog about death, this post is not about the decision to end a person's life by "pulling the plug."  If searching for reassurance or information about "pulling the plug" is how you ended up on this page, let me apologize.  The internet can bring you to a lot of weird places depending on your search terms.  So before you go, I'd like to wish you good luck with your search, but I'd also like for you to do something brave.  I'd like for you to ask a real, live person.  You know, face to face?  You could ask a doctor or a hospice nurse or a minister or a chaplain or a priest or your mom or your dad or maybe even your best friend.  Do it over coffee or a soda or maybe even water.  The only condition is that you are in the same room. Turn your phone off.  Same goes for the computer and the tv.  See what happens.

Are you still here?  Great.  If not, see ya, wouldn't want to be ya. 

Okay, so what is this post about?  It's about disconnection.  I don't know about you, but all these social media sites like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter are bringing me down.  In fact, I've never felt so alienated before and this is coming from a woman who used to eat her lunch in the library because she was afraid of the rejection that awaited her in the Junior High lunchroom.

For the past year, I've been seriously debating whether or not to continue down this path, but as a writer, I've been told that social media is a necessary evil.  How are people going to find out about you or follow you if they don't know about you? And my response is, what the hell happened to WORD OF MOUTH?  Like in, going out to eat with someone and saying, "I just read this really great essay in a print journal that I bought at a brick and mortar bookseller.  You should check it out.  It's funny and sad at the same time and I really think you'd dig it the most."  Am I crazy or what?  Ironically, I joined a hashtag discussion group on Twitter called #MYWANA or We Are Not Alone. 

We are totally alone.  Sorry.  And I hope that when you are on your death bed that there are people in the room to hold your hand.  Let's hope that condolences aren't tweeted at you or texted or that people don't announce your last breath on facebook for people to "like."  (Ultimately they will complain that FB needs a dislike button for this kind of news.)

I feel like Pavlov's dog as I check my @replies or see who "liked" my post on facebook.  I waste so much time on these sites looking for a little validation that I exist or that I matter.  And I despise this feeling.  I do matter.  Maybe I only matter to a few people, but that's okay.  If you want to de-friend me or unfollow me, so be it.  I am taking away its power for awhile and see what happens.  Next week, I'm going to unplug from all social media and see what happens.  My husband doesn't think I can do it.  There is money involved.

So what am I going to do?  I may enjoy a night with my family playing a game from a cardboard box.  Or I might meet someone for a cup of coffee.  If anything, I might actually get some writing done.  Alone.  Without anyone cheering.


  1. Good luck Pam! I totally understand the urge to unplug.

    Does that mean you can't check email too? Or just The Facebook and The Twitter?

    How much money is on the line? :-)

  2. May the Force be with you.

  3. I totally agree! I can't remember what my life was like without the internet anyway and much less when I first started using MySpace and then soon evolved to Twitter and Facebook...I am addicted! What's funny is I really don't have that many "real" friends outside of the DFW Writer's Workshop and apparently I'm up to at least 50 followers on Twitter and now 86 Friends on Facebook. I don't think I know that many people? I check both before going to work and check it at lunch and then again when I get home and on into the night! I have tweet alerts set up on my phone to text me at all hours of the night even! What the hell is wrong with me? I'm not even that popular! WTF? The only thing that keeps me somewhat disconnected is I do not want my privacy to be at stake therefore I do not use my real name or any real personal information on my prfile or any real pictures of myself. One of these days I'm going to just quit cold turkey...maybe on December 21st 2012? Lol

  4. I'm a student of existentialism, my focus in college, and there was this idea put forward by Kierkegaard about staring into the Void and the Void staring back yada yada, maybe you've heard it.

    I've started to think of the Internet as that void. Every once in awhile, I need to stare into it and shout at it to hear my voice echoing back at me.

    But, then, what happens when the Void (internet) stares back at you? Well, you start to see things in yourself that maybe you don't want to see. It starts to consume you. You start to leave comments on people's blogs that spout heavy-handed existential philosophies and refer to philosophers that most people wish they could forget. least keep blogging. Cuz I wanna hear whatcha got t'say.

  5. I deactivated my FB account for a month b/c it was dragging me down, too. It helped so much. Now I only check it a couple times a week, and am only on it for maybe ten minutes a day. I completely see and appreciate the point of your post. But social media is completely within our control, and it is all in how we choose to use it. I use social media to promote myself and my writing (FB for staying connected virtually with actual friends--since I unfriended peripheral people recently). I must say, I would really love to have a live and in-person critique group again. I miss interacting with real human beings, too.
    Hope unplugging helps.

  6. Nice post, Pam. You're a really good writer. Did anyone ever tell you that? Believe it!

  7. Well, I caved from the pulling the plug experience and look what happens? Real people that I've actually met in person comment on my blog and make me feel all nostalgic. Beth Walker, how the hell are you? I swear, you are the last person I expected to see on facebook:)


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