Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Taking Steps In The Right Direction

Wow, it seems like just a few months ago that I was writing about our last anniversary (oh, that's right, it was) and here we are again at that milestone! This March the First was a Tuesday, so we just spent the day together running the kids around like usual and then we took them to a babysitter and went out to dinner.  It was absolutely perfect for us.  We are in a good place on this here precarious road, and enjoyed reflecting on that while gazing lovingly, --a.k.a. uninterrupted--  into each others' eyes. [gag-me, I know...]

Stepping stones at the Portland
Classical Chinese Gardens
In other news, what is it about February? Is it that spring is right around the corner, and I'm itching to shed the Winter slumber, make some changes, lighten the load?  Because it was also February two years ago when I decided to step away from the Faceborg.  Obviously, the pull was too strong, and I ended up letting another two years slip away into the interwebs.  The reality is that I hadn't really hit bottom so I never really walked away.  This February found my heart stirring in ways it's never felt before, and I'm finding myself more than ready to let go of this thing that binds me.

I wrote a Facebook Note with my contact information and the following message to my "friends":

[editorial note: I think it's HILARIOUS that I thought it was 2 years ago that I started Facebooking.  That just goes to show what a time-sucking-warp it is.  I actually joined up in 2007-- so it's been about FOUR years that I've been thinking in status-updates!  Ay, caramba!]

March first will be 14 years since the day of the wedding.  And since my life revolves around my calling to that endeavor, I think that is a good day to make a change.

I remember, a little over 2 years ago [okay, four] in a friend's living room, surrounded by crawlers and their toys and their mothers, wondering about this "Face-Book" and why on earth you would want to quip about your moments to all your friends, who are no longer communing at your home, who are not on the phone, not at a coffee shop table with you, not in a letter, but who are sitting lonely at their computers, wondering what you are up to...?  Why would you do that?  Who would care?  What exactly would you say?

Being curious and maybe bored and maybe a little more procrastinating, I sign up.  I only remember one friend who said she is on this "Face-Book" and I look her up and "befriend" her all over again, this time a delayed and sightless, soundless friendship.  Soon my email address list connects me to friends and more friends and before long all the friendships I've ever had may now be transferred into a cyber-existence, like transferring the old reel-to-reel home movies to Blu-Ray to be enjoyed anew in hi-def but still not real and still sightless, soundless, touch-less.  Third-grade memories stay third-grade memories, even with the resurrected photos before me, the aged faces.

And for over 2 years I have invested in these so-called friendships, interacting with my keyboard, investing much, much more time into what is not seen, not heard and not felt compared to the time that Facebook has caused a speaking or a touching or a being seen.  Most days I sit down to fill my mind with what is outside of my own walls (I am a trapped and bored mother, I tell myself) and I am slowly filled with a creeping discontent, my life compared to yours.  You are constantly spending money I don't have, you are being loved in a way that I am not, you are making better meals and being more holy.  Or I judge you, a feeling I hate and despise about myself, for your pettiness or criticism or extreme political bias.  Or I practically explode with longing to help you when you are crying out in distress, needy and longing (and I know your whole situation, it's your "status") but I'm STUCK!  If I leave this keyboard I'll be faced with my needy children and laundry that needs to be put away and meals that need to be made and dirt that needs to be eradicated.  Even if I tried, I could not get to you in time, or help you enough.  You don't even live near me.  I don't even have any money.  I'm not even helping my own charge.  As I sit here getting fatter, I'm not even helping myself.

I have 260-something "friends".  I have whittled that down from 400-something!  I don't think I would use up all my digits counting up the ones I actually interact with, not including my husband.  My mom ran into my prom date in my hometown, and she said he told her that he "keeps up with" me on Facebook.  But we never interact.  He may as well be "keeping up with" Justin Bieber.  Except that they probably don't have a 20-year old shared experience--disregarding the fact that BIRTH is not a 20-year old experience for Bieber.  There are a couple of hundred more like him, and I am one of the same.  You might call it cyberstalking.  I'm seeing it as static.  Static that clouds and confuses and wastes my energy and time to where what is real and now is put aside.

Today, as I took more time to Be in the real world, serving little ones food--orange food to be exact-- and thanking God with them for putting the rainbow in food, and today we thank Him for orange!  And as I prayed and played and interacted and didn't ignore....the older one, the one with words, says to me, "I like it when you are here, mama!"

The horrible secret?  I am ALWAYS here.  But I am not HERE enough.  To him, I am not HERE.  You may have been stalking me on Facebook, seeing that I am definitely THERE.  And I am destroying my horrible secret now, this shame of not being HERE.

Apparently I get texted once in a while.  I guess.  I don't answer because I don't have texting and I never got the text.  We can't afford that extra expense.  And even if we could, being forced to be on this side of it causes me to wonder if I want even more of my interactions to be characterized by touchless, sense-less brevity and convenience.  Are we so busy?  So packed-full?  We cannot take the time for even brief conversations where I hear the comforting sound of your voice in my ear?  Where I can feel touched by a friend, another adult?  Are we so busy that sitting down to make 6 phone calls is too much?  I don't want to be that busy.  So busy that the majority of my interactions with people need to be so brief they must be electronic, lest we get (gasp!) talking and relating with one another!  Is this really why we do this?  Is it more than just video-game-esque fun, this texting?  I don't want texts from my children, I want to hear their voices.  I want them physically in my life for as long as possible.  I don't want cyber-children!  I know a lot from their voices, their eyes.  I need to see and hear.

So a little over 2 years later [actually FOUR], I am back to wondering why would anyone care about my "status"?  But I really don't care about the answer to that question anyway.  Even stronger is the desire to live in the moment.  I want to be HERE with my kids before they leave to struggle on their own for identity in a cyber-centric world.  I want to see your face over our steaming cups of coffee and read your pain through your "I've got everything under control" statements, and give your arm a squeeze (because you haven't been touched by anyone but needy children in a while) and tell you the words that no one would have the inclination to tell you if they never saw your expression, heard the tremor in your voice.  I am taking all this wasted time back, and I hope to GOD that I can live it better than I am now.

So write down my contact information, just in case you want to look me up when you are in Portland, and we can reminisce about Prom, or the third grade.  Or just in case you want to ask for my address.  Or just in case you want to tell me about the funny thing my kid did when they were at your house.  Or just in case you want to call and say Hi or make a coffee date or confirm our plans for Saturday.

On March 1st, I am exiting the world of Facebook.  I'm sure I will go through withdrawals, but I have a calling right before me that is HUGE and dare I admit it, neglected, and I am stretched too thin trying to waste time and live it at the same time.  I can really only handle what is physically before me, and if that is you, I will give you my full attention....and you will see it with your own eyes! :)

I am writing this in part to convince myself I have good reason to let Facebook go (a sure sign of a problem?) and partially to convince you to interact with me in real life.  I'm not making a case for everyone to quit Facebook; not everyone-- scratch that-- NO ONE is me.  I have problems that Facebook is exacerbating.  And I KNOW that my relationships "IRL" will be deeper as a result of letting go of good 'ole FB.

Thank you for being my friend...or my "friend" as the case may be.  Good times, good times.  :D

And you know what?  I haven't missed it at all.  I still feel this inclination, when I am feeling particularly emotional, to run and update my status with things like, "So help me, if there is one more spill today...!" but without that outlet, I've had to move that thought from this private internet part of my brain to the forefront, and actually deal with it.  I can actually feel my eyes change from glassed-over to focused, and it's like I'm snapping out of a trance.  And out of that trance, I can interact better with the real world.  And there are no more awkward run-ins with people as I try to put together what our complicated history is.  Because: there's our actual history, and there's what we know about each other from what we may or may not have read/put on Facebook.  It's very weird.

And by the way, deleting Facebook is tricky.  At first I only managed to "disable" Facebook.  A few days later a friend clued me in and I had to open it back up to properly delete it.  So in case you are wondering how to work it (because they really don't want you to go away), here's what you do:
  • Log in
  • At the bottom right of the page, click on the tiny blue letters that say "Help"
  • I don't know if this will stay here forever, but in the right-hand sidebar under "Top Questions" the very top question is "How do I permanently delete my account?"
  • Carefully read the page and click on the link to "submit your request here"
  • Then don't touch it for 14 days or it will be reactivated
Now if you are like me and actually have information on Facebook that is somewhat valuable (for instance, so far that was the only place I had chronicled Noble's birth with photos and captions, little details I will have possibly forgotten when I finally make his baby book a decade from now), you can copy everything you've ever done on Facebook onto your hard drive.  Photos, comments, everything (as far as I know).  It's pretty cool.  So I did that.

Again, I am not writing all this to try to convince you that technology is the devil and that you should get off Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc...  All I know is that I needed to detach from the machine...and it feels like vacation!


Deb said...

Um...I will miss you on facebook but I totally understand your conviction and need to be fully present! Go live (and then blog about it so I can laugh with you)!

Anissa said...

I love you conviction ..... Too bad I am too far away to sit down and share a cup of coffee :(

CC said...

Wonderful and amazing points!! But I have always loathed the telephone. So, I'm sorry I will probably not be giving you a call anytime soon. :( I do love coffee though! ;)

Anonymous said...

Very good writing Wendy, the other night I was two clicks away from leaving Facebook also, Like what kind of life have we turned into. Virtual friends? Virtual People. Some guy had 40,000 friends, he died and only two showed up!!
I'm with you, "Give me the touch"
Love Papa V