Is it a bad thing to constantly want to turn the clock back to 1989?
It’s not the cool high bangs look or the colored leather that brings such longing. Nor is it a yearning for synthesizer-heavy tunes, a livin’ large attitude or step aerobics craze. For me, it was the beginning of my “adult years” (ahem, the big 1-8 that year) when I was ready to take on the world and the world at that time was filled with face-to-face conversations, the beauty of being unavailable by phone (no email yet!), written correspondence, rerun city on the boob tube in summer and a general sense that a solid resume and a winning attitude could get you far in a possible career.
What has happened to us?
Yes, I’m a user of the internet. Heck yes, I’m a believer that it makes marketing and making a living easier (especially fabulous when done in PJ’s from your kitchen table). This is a very exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the making. Yet, there’s a flip side too….Who needs Christmas holiday letters when we can keep up with our friends’ dinner plate photos and party plans on Facebook all year round? Why mess with sending thank you cards when a short email will suffice? Teenage breakups are even easier when one can text a jilted lover that it’s over.
I’m beginning to feel that it’s all too much.
My heart is caught between a vice of the digital keep-up and a wedge of comparison to others’ lives. Lives I didn’t even know much about (which turns out was a good thing) before social media parachuted violently into our laptops and smart phones. I feel sheepish for yearning for the days when my home phone would ring and no one was there to answer it—I simply was not reachable. I hate to admit it, but I really, really like being unreachable sometimes. What does it take now for folks to render us legally unavailable? Balancing atop Mt. Everest? Gawking at penguins in the Artic? Somehow I’m thinking these two places might even be candidates for emergency cell service and it makes my head hurt.
I’m also keenly aware that I am part of the problem. I haven’t holed up in a cabin J.D. Salinger-style. I haven’t shunned social media with peacock-like pomposity and a drive to communicate with every person I know over coffee instead of Skype. I’m sitting directly in the center of this lovely glass house, arm raised, stone in hand. Yet there are days when my 80’s nostalgia rears it’s ugly heavily made-up eyes and wants it be different. I know I’m not alone because my spouse and I lament about this like two old ladies regularly over our morning coffee. My teen daughter was overheard saying to her sister, “It was so great that our summer camp outlawed phones. We were all happier for it. There was no FOMO going on while playing Capture the Flag or hanging in the lodge.” Ah, that one made me open my eyes wide, wide, wide. What have we done to our kids?
It got me thinking.
1) Communicate clearly that I’m unavailable.
Hello vacay email and voicemail message. I’m not reachable when I say I’m not reachable, right? Of course, easier said than done for folks who have their superiors breathing down their necks all the time. For a teacher, I admit this one is a little bit easier. But this is my time capsule, yes?
2) Call a cease fire on social media
I’ve gone round and round with myself on this one and finally landed on a happy place of tweeting and FB’ing blog posts only. I don’t lurk or dwell, yet I do want people to read (like you!) about this message, because I think it’s important.
3) Adhere to at-home digital sabbaticals
We’re still working on this, but I’m loving it when we are committed. All phones go in a basket by the door when we have company, too—love that one.
4) Stop the hustle of trying to be heard
As a past photographer who did all marketing through social media and blog posts, I have had to wean myself of the proverbial tap-dance of self promotion. I think this hustle was a huge reason I left my entrepreneurial life for my teaching job. Frankly, I’m was done with trying to get my squeaky voice to rise above the din in the noisy lunchroom that is online networking. I just want to write and then hope that my words are read by and matter to someone. I’m officially subscribing to the JUST DO REALLY GOOD WORK mantra in this cyber world of horn-tooting and me-glorification and hope that it will be what it’s supposed to be. On this topic, I loved this article about more doing, less promoting.
5) Two words: Down time
I love the Italians for their phrase, l’arte di non fare niente, the art of doing nothing. I used to suck at this. I always had to have baskets and baskets filled with the fruits of my labor. And for what? Burn-out and anxiety. No longer is this something I feel guilty doing—it’s my weekend currency and I’m trying to spread this hang-out-in-a-hammock pixie dust to everyone in my clan. It’s important and I want my girls to know what it feels like.
Will they long for 2018 when they’re older? I wonder.