For a long time I’ve scrutinised my use of the internet, wondering if it really is enhancing my life, or just taking up time I could spend doing other things. At the moment I’m stuck in a kind of limbo over how to manage it all.
We’ve cleared out so much stuff over the last few weeks – it’s moved our decluttering onto a new level to be honest. And inevitably, with the increased sense of space and clarity around us, I notice more the things that feel cluttered and unmanaged.
My internet time is one of those things. I use lots of sites, but only a little bit, if that makes sense. I have a handful of friends on Facebook (less than 40 I think). I follow some folks on Instagram (mainly raw food and yoga types). I use twitter infrequently, but more ‘professionally’ and it tends to be full of software related people. I’m on LinkedIn. I blog here, plus I have a currently unused blog on minimalism. I’ve wanted to create a writing blog for ages (and do more writing). I have a professional blog, which I’ve just announced a sabbatical on (the weekly newsletter has now ended as I’m home with the boys for the summer, and the baby is due November, so I have little interest in maintaining it right now).
It’s all a bit piecemeal and bitty.
I’ve toyed for a long time with creating a single, personal blog, that I can just use for everything, and link all the other accounts to. But then…
Do I really want my in-laws reading the same things as my work colleagues and as my friends?? Would people even be interested?
No – there are different audiences for different things.
But then I think – but I’m me, regardless of that. Surely I shouldn’t have to only show certain parts of my personality to certain people. That almost feels deceptive.
So then I wonder, perhaps all this social and linking stuff is overrated. Maybe I should focus on real-life relationships and stop putting myself out there. I mean, why do I do this at all? What do I get from it?
And then I think about the incredible support I’ve received online, and the connections I’ve made with like-minded people that I would never have met otherwise. And the journeys that I’ve been able to follow and even become emotionally invested in, and it becomes clear that connections are a good thing. That they can help you find people in the world who will support your goals, and even agree with them, or even join you, when your local family and friends might not understand why you would even want to do them in the first place.
But how to manage it all??
It’s causing me discomfort. I don’t like the way it’s all spread across loads of different platforms, and I seem to have to segregate aspects of my life for different audiences. I hate all the apps on my phone! I deleted loads of them a few weeks back, but I still have far too many.
In part, I think it’s down to the fact that, as with all of us, there are many different aspects to my personality – I love programming, software, computers, gaming, but I also love minimalism and get excited about organising. I’m into health and nutrition. I have a family and adore my kids. I love to write, and have had work published and would love to spend more time on that. I love to travel (even though we haven’t for years).
Some people seem to focus on one thing, and they become famous for it. Whether it’s raw food, yoga, software, or minimalism, that is their “niche”. I find it impossible to commit for one thing for any length of time!
And Facebook just feels so soul-less at the moment. Most of what I see in my feed are other people’s likes, and shares, which is fine, but I miss the days of knowing what people where thinking about, talking about and eating for dinner. Facebook used to be about the person, but now it’s more like a news-stream. That’s fine, things change, but I miss that part of it. I’ve also noticed that Facebook is becoming more like twitter – I had a look at my friends’ profiles last night and I was astounded at how many people some of them were connected to. When I left Facebook a couple of years back, most people had around 100 connections. Now a lot of the people I know are topping 400+ people. Perhaps the problem is I am using Facebook in the wrong way? That it is much less personal now and I’m ignoring friend requests and connections because I’m still stuck in the “you have to be a proper friend” line of thought. After all, I follow a few hundred people on twitter, so why should Facebook be different?
I’m rambling now, and getting off point.
The point is: I want a clean, simple, solution to being online.
I don’t want to have to check different websites, and I don’t want to feel that I’m scattered all over the place. I want to be genuinely me, to everyone, so that I can be confident that if they are still interested in me, it’s because they ARE interested in me.
But also, I don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades, with no focus.
I just don’t know how to bring all the threads together.
Maybe part of the problem here is that I am still not certain what I want to be doing with my life.
Since I left paid work, I’ve wanted to earn money – somehow – but haven’t been able to pin down anything sustainable that is flexible enough to suit me. I’m not even sure what field I want to be in. Do I still want to program? Write software? Or do I want to focus on writing, finally? Do I want to be freelance, or just turn up and get paid by someone else?
I don’t even really know the answers to these questions, and perhaps that is part of the problem. Part of me keeps thinking I should be earning money online somehow or other, but then I know how transient and difficult that can be.
I really just don’t know what to do at the moment. I love to write, to connect with others and to blog, but I need a more efficient way of doing all of it. I want to be, more than I ever have, authentically me to everyone I know, but I’m not sure how to go about it and I’m frightened that some people will think I’m weird/crazy/boring/stupid/ or worst of all, not worth bothering with at all (sob!).
I have a domain, faye.tv, that I’ve owned for years and years. There’s nothing on it, but I love it, and it’s my little corner of the internet. I kind of want it to be my central place, where everyone knows they can find me. But I’m also scared of what people will think of me. And to a certain extent, what the hell would I write about that anyone would want to read anyway?? I do feel that I suffer from a lack of confidence in who I really am.
I am afraid (and have always been), that I am not as good as other people, as worthy as other people, or even just as interesting as other people. I’ve lived with a lifelong fear that my life isn’t interesting or glamorous enough. As a family, we are neither rich, nor hugely successful in the traditional sense of the words. We don’t go on expensive holidays, we don’t have hundreds of friends or a bursting social calendar. We especially do not have a dedicated family network (something I have always been very self-conscious of). I come from a highly dysfunctional background (drug addiction, schizophrenia, depression, suicide, abuse, the lot) and unlike most of the friends I have made in my 40 years on this planet, I don’t spent any significant time with family members. My husband comes from a very small family that he is not close to. We are basically bereft of that whole side of life. I’ve spent years trying to pretend otherwise.
Maybe it’s because of this that I spend so much of my time online. Reading and researching (because I never had a parent to teach me as I was growing up), sharing and exploring, and pouring my heart out into open digital space. Consequently, I’m kind of spread all over the place, in lots of nooks and crannies.
I want a single solution. A single, streamlined approach to sharing my thoughts, my photos, my writing, my life.
Why do I want to share?
I thought about this question a lot over the last few days. What drives our need to share what we do?
Sharing is a way of connecting. We want to connect, we want people to like us, so we share in the hope that they will like us. Often that means sharing turns into ‘peacocking’ where photos and status posts are all about how great things are and how wonderful everything is and hey, check out my new designer bag and the cruise I’ve just booked…
That’s not what I’m interested in. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad with what I share. But I do want to be a better, more open, person, and part of my failure to commit fully to any one platform is that I don’t have the confidence that I’m worthy of it.
I also would like a way to record what we do as a family – a kind of online journal of our weekends, holidays, and ordinary days. The little snippets of conversation that make me laugh and the photos that make my heart sing.
I basically want my whole digital life to be centralised from a single hub.
And then, as soon as all these feelings threaten to overwhelm me enough to be the catalyst for action, I feel fear. Fear that I don’t want to share myself with anyone because I will be judged. I remember my father telling me that he thought my blog (in 2006) was “kind of private”. At the time I was writing from America because I wanted to keep in touch with people back home. The fact that he seemed to disapprove of airing my thoughts – which weren’t particularly soul-searching or private – made me feel small and sad and like what I was doing was wrong.
But I do feel a change coming. I want to get this sorted out, and clear up all my scattered and far-flung digital profiles and half-started digital projects.
As the house we live in becomes ever more clear, I see with more clarity how things eat up our time, and how all of our ‘commitments’, from Facebook (because it is a commitment) to blogging to caring for our houses and possessions, right down to our regular jobs and daily/weekly/monthly chores, reduce the space and creativity for what we are really passionate about doing.
I want to build a life that I feel no shame in telling other people about. I want to create, not to endlessly consume. I want to share what I learn with others.
I want my use of the internet to be easy, genuine, and fun.
I just have to figure out how.