Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Real Life

Sometimes I feel like I get too caught up in the virtual world. Some of the things that make social media (like Facebook and blogs) so likable are also the things that make it so detrimental to my connections in the real world. I can get on Facebook and see what my friends have been up to that day (if they are posting). Heck, sometimes I can even see pictures! It's as if I'm right there having the experience with them. Except, I'm not. It's a fact I often forget. Before the mass catch of social media, I spent a hell of a lot more face-time with friends.

Quite a bit has changed since then and I won't pretend to believe that social media gets all the blame for my withdrawal. When I get right down to it, when I'm honest about it, it's because I myself don't think about it. I don't find myself wondering how my friends are doing. Maybe because I just wait for them to update on Facebook. I don't think about hanging out with anyone. Maybe because I myself am not thinking about going out. What changed in my life that I don't even think of going out now? I keep coming back to Facebook. It's Facebook keeping me informed of my friend's events and it's Facebook (and blogs, to be fair) keeping me content when I'm bored at home.

Or is it?

Up until today, I had planned to take a hiatus from Facebook and blogs for the month of July. I believed that removing that shortcut to socializing would give me a much needed kickstart to rebuilding and maintaining the relationships in my life. Somewhere along the search for photo ideas (I was going to change my timeline photo to remind people they couldn't reach me there), I realized a spark of truth. Maybe this admission to myself is all I really need to motivate myself to change. Sure, the internet keeps me content but if it wasn't available what would I do? Would I call up a friend to hang out or just to talk?

The honest answer is no.

I would find a book to read or I would play one of the many instruments I've banished to hang lonely and untouched in the spare room for years. I would do one of the many crafts I've gathered supplies for but never started. I'd finish one of the many projects I've started over the years that have sat unfinished so long they almost seem to belong that way. I might do some work on the house or in the yard. I do very well at keeping myself entertained when the internet isn't available. And while I'd love to get back into those habits, that's not what this is about. What about my social habits is truly different between now and then?

Everything. When I lived in St. Joe, we were part of a group of friends that had a standing Saturday game night. Other than that, the majority of things we did with our friends was spur of the moment excursions or special occasions. We lived 10 minutes away from each other and didn't have to worry about how long to be gone because we didn't have a dog yet. It was easy. When we moved over an hour away, spur of the moment lost it's place. When the cost of gas outweighed our budget, we stopped attending the weekly game nights. We adopted Max and all of a sudden we had to make sure we weren't gone from the house for more than 8 hours. I took weekend night jobs. On top of that, our friends all had lives of their own that were changing as well. I am not the person who is going to call and invite myself over. I am the person to call and invite a friend over, but rarely with enough notice for a group of friends that now needs advance notice to make the trip. Even our local friends are about 20 minutes away in any given direction. So, I've identified the changes and the barriers. Now, what should I do to improve?

Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • Talk with Sweetie about instituting a Sunday afternoon game day. Make sure all our friends know about it and realize that it is a recurring thing. Come if they can, leave when they want. Nothing fancy, just friends getting together.
  • When I see a picture or update on Facebook that seems likely to have more story, or is just particularly funny, make a note to call the person who posted it instead of messaging.
  • Plan to do more things during the week. Call or text friends and invite them to join.
  • Resist the overall urge to check Facebook throughout the day. Create a list of friends to check first and then move on to the "Newsfeed". Don't spend more than an hour a day. Might try 30 minutes at lunch and 30 minutes before bed.
  • Make phone number visible to friends on Facebook page.

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