I listen to a lot of talk radio. This curious development began only a couple of months ago. Prior to that I was actually quite content to live in a bubble, my own little world, where I didn’t have to worry about the bigger issues on a daily basis. Now, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t concerned about the bigger issues, but I do find that media has a way of playing on fears and making people feel rather unsafe, dejected, and alone. We moved out of the city to a small acreage (3 acres located in a subdivision) a little more than a year ago. I haven’t had television (I have a tv but no cable access) for the past 9 years. I used to have unlimited Internet when we lived in the city, however since moving out to our acreage, our Internet has increased in cost greatly (about $100/mo.) and it doesn’t come close to the kind of access we had in the city. Needless to say, our media consumption has not been that of a typical Canadian family.
I’ve relished this absence of media in our daily lives. My children haven’t succumbed to this rampant disease of consumerism. My children don’t know what’s “in” or “fashionable”, they simply know what they like and if they aren’t popular, they could really care less. We have video games and can see the benefits of technology, but have always limited screen time so that we are always engaged first with humans, and technology second. My immediate family (that is the 4 of us that live in this home together) have been spent years cultivating deep relationships with each other instead of deep relationships with our possessions or material goods. And I have been very happy with the way our family has chosen to get along in this world and the results this has yielded.
Lately however, I’ve been feeling the need to be more informed. About my world on a local level, a national level, and a global level. It started with me reading the paper for our county just to keep abreast of the goings on in our community, and progressed to me listening to CBC talk radio on a daily basis. Each morning, I make the trek from our rural home, to the city, where my oldest daughter goes to school. She attends an all girls program in the city, that unfortunately isn’t available anywhere in the county we live in. No worries though, the trek is actually only about 20 minutes because of the highway driving, so it’s not a huge amount of time tacked onto my day. On the other hand, I know that driving into the city every day to drop her off and to pick her up isn’t the most environmentally friendly action to be taking, and I do worry about the impact of driving my vehicle so much. That however is not what this post is about.
Now, the other morning while making my daily commute into the city to drop my oldest daughter at her school, I was listening to the aforementioned talk radio. I heard a story about how the Amish don’t necessarily shun all technology, but rather ask questions about what impact it may have on the individual person, but also the community as a whole. The Amish may look at the telephone for instance and decide to reject it because it would mean that people would communicate face to face less, and feel more comfortable moving slightly farther away because they could keep in touch this way, thus resulting in a fracture within their communities in a way. The professor speaking, put what she was saying into context by sharing that the people she communicates with on Facebook aren’t the same people she works with, and those aren’t the same people she goes to church with, nor are those the same people that live in her neighbourhood. It wasn’t necessarily holistic. She described it as living a fragmented life.
This is idea of not living a fragmented life, but something more interconnected, is precisely what made me uncomfortable about Facebook. It is part of the reason why I chose to delete my account. While I had spent a lot of time really creating strong intimate bonds with my immediate family, I kept my groups of friends in very small boxes. Now what I mean by that is this: what I would show people about myself was for the most part carefully selected and limited so that no one person knew too much. I mean, I kept the break down of my relationship a secret for the better part of a year before I really began letting others know what was going on with me or the details of the situation. I believe there are very few people who truly know the whole me. The good, the bad, and the ugly so to speak. And I didn’t really want anyone outside of my immediate family to know the whole me. I absolutely did not want to see these circles or small fragments of my life intersecting.
Luckily, I recognized that this wasn’t a good thing. How could I really be my authentic self when I was so closed off and withdrawn in many ways from people? And so I deleted my account to try to make more meaningful, true relationships with others. I found the Internet, but more specifically Facebook, to be a time suck. It was like this black hole. The time I spent slowed down but when I looked at the outside world I found that so many things had happened around me. Disengaging from the medium, allowed me more of a space to be vulnerable with a smaller amount of people. I have shared more of myself with others around me than I have ever been willing to in the past. And I’ve come back from my time away, ready to share even more, and to be more open about just who I am. I think I’m ready to live a life that’s a little less fragmented.