Saturday, March 14, 2009

During the Digital Blackout

There are times when I need to stay away from the pc. These are the times when I crave sunlight, and action, and the company of flesh and blood friends, which is basically on weekends.

You know the feeling when someone says calls a certain social networking site "Crackbook". You know that you are tweeting brain farts but can't help yourself, because it's just there. You get to a point when you feel you are just lurking among friends' plurks, and wonder... what are fans for, tools to get karma points? Do I even need fans? A good friend of mine has indicated that his Lenten sacrifice would be to give up social network sites while he meditates on what is really important.

So I tried to give up Plurk one weekend. (Now I like Plurk better than Twitter for functionality and settings options, but that's just my geekiness.) One weekend turned into something like ten days. When I returned and my karma points plummeted, I didn't feel a thing. Ok, maybe mild amusement. Of course my REAL friends missed me, we don't see each other that often, but the feeling that one MUST gain karma points disappeared.

If there's one thing online hard to give up, that would be email. I could stay away from the pc, but not the phone. Email still tells you what happens on Facebook, but you still have to log in to check the details of it. I have had to ignore friend requests many times because I am not really motivated to join Mob Wars or Elven or Vampire whatsits. Ok, once in a while I'll send Ice Cream or Fountain Pen gifts, and Pieces of Flair. But I think it's hard to stay away from the friends you found again, or the family members on the other side of the world. Those are the meaningful connections. "Meaningful" is the operative word.

If one day the unthinkable happened and the world was bereft of real-time digital connections, how would we fare? I have returned to writing real letters to people who appreciate them. It's something that you can open again and again, and enjoy.

Time away from the pc has also allowed me time to read new books. One is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, about a young boy and a mysterious book, in post-Civil War Barcelona. The other is The Rescue Artist, Edward Dolnick's nonfiction account of how an intrepid Scotland Yard art detective recovers Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream, stolen on the eve of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics.