Taming the beast

Most of the time the lock and key of my Facebook account dangles on a pewter chain around someone else’s throat. Since I spent hours tweaking font types and comment back-and-forth exchanges on MySpace as a high school sophomore, I’ve realized that social networking’s tug is as loathsome as any riptide. (Once you are ashamed to admit to your parents how much of your total computer usage is devoted to bolstering friendships online, it may be time to tone it down a bit.) To bulwark myself against these tendencies and work in the interests of my GPA and act as a steward of God’s time of course, since joining Facebook and coming to college, on several occasions I’ve relinquished control of my account to a friend.

I even went a step further this past spring. After realizing that I could outwit my former system—having a friend change my password by circumnavigating and clicking the button for forgotten password, I instructed a friend to create a new email address, placed that under his personal password connection and then made that my primary email account. Good bye Facebook. Hello life free of vicariously living through a machine.

As tedious as the previous paragraphs may be, the point of explaining the intense regulation of the internet is actually to highlight how little I am able to manage any other time I spend in the folds of the web, the lands of the NY Times, ESPN, and anywhere else where savvy and snarky writing may be. Sure, little of my time is spent these days doing anything remotely social. Only one of the 18 individuals or entities I follow on Twitter is with someone I’ve actually had a conversation. Yet, I compulsively check the site, gauging the pulse of the Giants’ beat writers and springing into glee the moment that they’ve retweeted me. (Yes, they have.)

But, so many days I find myself maxed out on Economist and New York Times articles, perusing the LA Times and trying to make sense out of the latest Grantland smattering of how-Ichiro-helped-me-understand-what-it-meant-or-didn’t-mean-to-be-American. I suck up commentary on the plight of microfinance gone wrong, arguments that Christians ought not to flee medical marijuana and Andrew Baggerly’s descriptions of heartwarming events from the Giants locker room.

Sure, I’m not addicted to Farmville. I’m sure somewhere around, there’s someone that would pat me on the back for resisting the urges of the virtual city. Maybe it’s only because Facebook is the only way I can access these diversions. Maybe it’s because I do have an obsession, albeit with avalanches of information and albeit with articles.

Articles are not books. Articles do not require tenacity. Articles do not necessitate staying power. They offer 900 words on gender roles and raising children but they do not extrapolate on the sociological or anthropological theory that were fundamental in altering just how our culture judged these trends. Any argument they serve over on a silver plate is usually characterized by a void that books might fill because books offer depth and depth is rarely characterized by 900 words.

Articles also transform me into a consumer. I slurp up the news and opinions and commentaries like I used to buy summer, floral-print dresses (used to?) and like some kindergartners collected fluorescent colored sillybandz, while simultaneously struggle to ever focus my attention on any one subject long enough to write 600 words a week. I turn into a ravaging machine, always gleaning others’ ideas and points of view and only rarely risking my own beyond my Twitter account or a select comment pages.

But blogging, like sustained blogging about one topic and doing all the appropriate research or disciplined mental training, is pushed away too often in the interest.

Oh for the tenacity and mental fortitude to tame this loathsome beast.

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