Back in 1995, when My Best Beloved and I were living in France, we bought our first at-home computer, and hooked up email. I still remember the ambivalence I felt.
It’s just another way for someone to get into my house, I said.
You have to understand, I’m the woman who once answered the question, What would you do if you won a million dollars? by saying I’d build a moat. I’m not totally anti-social. I mean, I wouldn’t put sharks in the water, but a nice little moat would be nice. It would stop people from just stumbling up the walk uninvited. I like to see people, but I like them to come when invited.
That feeling of having been intruded upon, of having been invaded by technology, as proved to be true for me. How naïve, how innocent those days before social media were.
Back then, email freaked me out then. It came right into the house. A phone call I could choose not to answer if I wanted, but an email… there it was, sitting in the middle of my desk like a toad. I’ve learned, of course, than I can use my email inbox as I would a snail mail box. I can keep it closed until I wish to check it, and at the moment I’ve decided to check it twice a day. Once mid-morning, and once at the end of the day. That’s it. I figure if you REALLY need me at another time, you probably know me well enough to have my phone number.
But now, of course, there’s Facebook and Twitter and Tumbler and Pintrest and Tinder and God knows what else. It seems the entire world is exposing itself. No one has a private thought any longer. No one has a private moment. I just re-read Vita Sackville-West’s WONDERFUL book, “All Passion Spent”, in which Lady Slane, elderly and recently widowed, chooses to live the remainder of her life in a small house, surrounded only by people she really enjoys, doing only things she really likes to do. There’s a moment when she talks about the delight of the private: “…for pleasure to her was entirely a private matter, a secret joke, intense, redolent, as easily bruised as the petals of a gardenia…” Yes! I thought. Absolutely. And yet I suspect fewer and fewer people have any private matters.
I’ve started having home-invasion dreams. And honestly, I think it’s related to the fact I’ve let my moat run dry. More than that – I’ve moved my temenos my sacred space, right out into the middle of the highway, and I wonder why I’m bothered by the rattle and whoosh of non-stop tracker trailers. I feel jangled and anticipatory all the time. I feel a need to KNOW things, things that aren’t truly useful to my life and I suspect they’re not really useful to anyone else’s either.
So, and this is the point – I’ve decided to do an emotional trial run and stay off social media for a month at least. I want to see what it feels like.
I do recognize the irony of saying such things on my blog – for what is more fraught with egocentric self-revelation than a blog? I get that, and so for the next month I won’t be blogging, either. For the next thirty days or so, I’m going to spend the time I would usually spend on Facebook and Twitter and so forth either speaking to people on the phone or in person, or not speaking at all. I did decide, however, I will return emails, since other people often depend on my getting back to them about various business things. I’ve posted a note as to my intention on Facebook and Twitter, and I assume people will see that, but if they don’t I guess they’ll just have to wait. I’ve changed my settings so as not to receive messages.
For a month (at least), this is the way I’ll live. I want to see if it changes the way I feel about my life and the people in it and my relationship to the world.
At the end of that time, I’ll let you know how it went… or maybe not. Snort.