Thursday, November 20, 2008

My name is Vanessa and I'm a Blogaholic

This is how I feel inside

I crossed a line last week. I don't know exactly when I crossed this line, but I recognized the breach when I found myself vocally yelling at the computer screen.  Hotheadedly shouting at an undisclosed and non-living news site which listed its prime top stories side by side as  1. The children in the Congo struggling to survive and 2.  Madonna's ugly divorce proceedings.  I am not going to go into all the problems I have with the media.  It is the same reason that I can seldom stomach watching Oprah Winfrey.   Tuesday's episode about hidden beauty secrets and how to look 10 years younger is a huge slap in the face after Monday's solemn and soul-wrenching hour looking into the lives of child prostitutes.  Yes, I am being embarrassingly negative, pessimistic, and hypocritical.  That is what crossing the line did to me.

There are many areas in which I lack self-discipline, but I have always thought myself immune to the seductions of cyberspace. More than an hour at a time at the computer usually results in a backache, nausea, and a general feeling of out of body yuckiness. When I started this blog almost a year ago, I was a bit skeptical of the longevity of my efforts. I didn't think I could stick it out. I must admit that I quickly found it a satisfying endeavor, felt devoted to it, and found it enjoyable to dedicate a part of my week documenting our recent family adventures.  It was a therapeutic outlet for learning, creativity, and self-expression that is  priceless in my life as a stay at home mother.  I love reading other blogs, feeling connected to friends and family, and glimpsing morsels of their personality that remain elusive in vocalized communication.   

Face book has been a serendipitous adventure similar to finding a twenty dollar bill in the jeans I haven't worn in a year.  I have reconnected and reminisced with friends that I haven't spoken to since my heart-breaking move from New York to Utah 25 years ago.  It is miraculous how you can sum up the past 25 years of your life in a paragraph and then resume the relationship without so much as a hiccup.  It is an amazing testament to the strength and tenacity of friendship.  And then there are those random people from high school that want to be my friend, even though I can't remember them ever saying a word to me in high school. I think that we are just looking for ways to connect to people in some way.....and if the fact that we graduated the same year from the same high school is enough for them  to consider me a friend...maybe this connection is all we need.

 What a miracle the Internet is.  I can find out what is going on in every corner of the world with just the click of the mouse. I can have discussions with people on the Internet about what is happening in the world.  I have a voice. I can answer all of Ansel's strange questions with the help of my great friend GOOGLE.  I took swimming lessons and knitting lessons via you Tube. 
I can go to a remote village in Italy on Google Earth.  It truly is an unfathomable means of global communication.  

 Again,  I am not sure at what moment this occurred, but last week was point where the scales tipped and I realized that my healthy relationship with cyberspace was in danger of becoming pathological. 

Psychologists are debating the possible symptoms of Internet addiction.  It is not officially listed in the DSM IV yet, but it is most likely just a matter of time as more and more lives are being sucked into black hole of cyberspace. 

I have listed some of the symptoms that have been discussed and how they relate to my life recently.

1.  drastic lifestyle changes in order to spend more time on the net
CHECK:More than 4 hours a day is a drastic change in my life

2. general decrease in physical activity
CHECK:I only went to the gym once last week.

3.  a disregard for one's health as a result of Internet activity
CHECK: one jar of nutella and stolen Halloween candy from the kids stashes

4.  Avoiding important life activities in order to spend time on the net
CHECK:  Waiting until after the kids are starving to make dinner.   Ignoring Corey. Pretty much not doing anything else. 

5. sleep deprivation or a change in sleep patterns in order to spend time on the net
CHECK:  I found myself so wrapped up in things, that I would get into bed with my heart pounding.  I did once stay on so late and was so nauseous that I threw up....and then got right back on. 
6. neglecting family and friends
CHECK:  It wasn't so much what I did, but how I felt about them.  I wanted them to leave me alone.  I wanted them to play on their own.  I chose to miss out on them.  I couldn't wait for them to go to bed so that I could get back on the computer.  

8. a craving for more time at the computer

9. neglecting job and personal obligations
CHECK.  I went through the motions, but didn't put any heart into any of it. 

Corey mentioned last week that he thought I was taking life a little too seriously.  I never want to do that.  I don't think you can be much of an instrument in saving any part of the world if you are not savoring any part of it at the same time. When I had a thriving optimistic relationship with the computer, it was a tool for enriching my life and documenting my relishing in this living.  When this tool took the precedence over actually having a life, I knew I needed to take a step back.  I will be more careful in the future.  I promise that my next blog  will be back on the other side of the line.


Kaerlig said...

Thanks for the wake up call. I think I can relate, sad as that is.

EJ said...

Ummm ditto for me. Check, check, check, check, check, etc. Can I cross over too?

kath said...

happy thanksgiving vanessa!

Kristin said...

As a person who has been in the blogosphere for over two years and has experienced much the same as you have...TRUST fades!! You'll go back to your normal life...somewhat...and your blog and the internet will become something enjoyable again and not an addiction. You're just in the honeymoon stage. :)

Lucy said...

Ditto to Kristin. You are a really interesting blogger and I hope you don't give it up entirely. I get the horrors of realizing the mistreating of children and spouse and letting the computer take WAY too much time sometimes, but, for me, it has turned into a very enjoyable hobby and one I would be sad if I stopped doing.

Here's hoping for balance (and for future blog posts from you).

Joal said...

Yeah, Internet addiction the absence of Internet.

Concerning the disturbingly glib media juxtapositions, you should consider reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes a chapter on how popular news patterns create in us a sense of impotence. We hear about all these problems in far-off places about which we can do almost nothing, and five seconds later, we hear about the evening's losers on American Idol. These are discussed with equal importance.

News produced in a capitalistic society tends to be market-driven, so the story about child prostitutes is mostly produced to make you feel a strong emotion, which is then associated with an advertisement. Instead of helping the children, we buy more shoes or soda or cars, and the next night we laugh at the funny news story, associate that emotion with an advertisement, and buy more soap and power tools. And then we have a sinking feeling of guilt and wonder why so little is done to help the starving children that we keep hearing about. Postman didn't take it this far, but I think it is a fair extrapolation.

Of course, news agencies in socialistic countries aren't much better. Their focus often is not to get people to buy stuff, but to have a dying devotion to the current government and be suspicious of the rest of the world.

So, what I'm trying to say is that I'm really happy Brittney has made a come-back, and I'm sooo happy that basketball season has started and that the super bowl is approaching, and that the Tour de France is only 7 months away, and I love love love the new pictures of Apple and Moses.

amy said...

I love reading your blog. Your posts always make me miss you. Don't ever quit posting. And as far as addiction go, I bet I subscribe to more blogs than you :) And sadly, I keep adding more. Thanks so much for always doing such thoughtful and fun posts. Miss you!