Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doing Less in Order to Do More

Over the last few weeks, I have been writing quite a bit about getting rid of my possessions, going without new purchases, taking breaks from online networking, etc.  Since then, I have received several emails asking what I have "against" technology, arguing the importance of gadgets, social knowledge about TV shows or new music, and the like.

I have nothing against technology.  Really.  My focus is on using these new tools that are available to make my life better instead of just busier.  As I see it, the more "connected" we all become, via Twitter, via Facebook, via a hundred other mediums, the less enjoyment I personally seem to get out of it.  What was supposed to be fun becomes just another "have-to."  Remembering to respond to a comment or message on Online Network #1 becomes part of my to-do list for that day.  Keeping up with a list of blogs, out of duty instead of out of enjoyment takes time away from something else, and I have come to resent this creeping obligation.

I know that I am not the only one, as there have been dozens of books out recently about the effects that multi-tasking, constant web-surfing, and perpetual connectivity have on our brains, our moods and our relationships.  For all of this, I still view these tools as a positive thing, so long as they are used appropriately.

And this is what I am struggling with.  What are the limits?  What are the best ways to balance the benefits of new connectivity tools with the need for direct, authentic and personal interaction?  Does "liking" someone's facebook status really bring me closer to that person?  Is it an acceptable substitute for a phone call or a face-to-face conversation?

The more I think about these questions, the more I try to minimize, and the more committed I become to doing so.  I try to minimize my possessions in order to spent my money on experiences, investments and the people I care about.  I try to minimize my time spent online so that I can have more time offline.  I try to call my customers and see them in person, rather than just exchanging long email chains.  The time I do spend online is mindful, and I want to connect with friends instead of just jumping all over the place.

I am still struggling to find a perfect resolution for all of this, but I do think that I am getting closer, and I like the direction that I am heading.



Allison said...

Funny that people seem offended by the fact that you're cutting down on your internet use.

I wish I had your determination.

Martin said...

Hey Allison -

I didnt get the impression that anyone was offended. Maybe surprised that I would want to be less connected, but that was about it.

Allison said...

I need to learn to fill my day with more meaningful activities.

I didn't mean that your friends were offended I guess...wrong word.

Martin said...

Allison - I think your last blog post had all sorts of good activities. "Write what you want, drink tea, watch movies in bed with your cat," etc.

katiegirl said...

I completely agree with your reasoning.

I think that new technology and new networking mediums are only enjoyable, if they are used in moderation. I make it a rule that I'm not allowed to turn my computer on for one day each week. Even though it nearly kills me, I notice that I'm always more relaxed on that day (not to mention get so much more done...)

connally said...

Good thoughts. Social media can be fantastic tools for staying connected, but can also be easily abused if allowed to become a compulsive obsession. I loved this cautious and thought-provoking article on the subject:

PS love the blog! ♥

Anonymous said...

I agree. I've reduced my Facebook usage to once a day, if that. Time is definitely worth more spent on activities that enrich your life in a meaningful way. While social media can provide that, I too always find it devoid of the exact degree of connection you feel with talking to an actual, live person.

Also, I've noticed you've sold out to ads. Shame, shame, shame. I hate things that blink and flash while I'm trying to read....

Venom said...

Your priorities are straight, and you reap the rewards - good on you Martin!

Alison said...

I think I understand where you're comng from now I've read this but am well aware why it doesn't apply to me. When I first 'made friends' with you online it was inescapably obvious that you are a very good correspondent. You always reply or comment in return etc on fb giving back the amount of attention you've received. This makes you an excellent friend but I imagine if you feel obligated to do this then keeping up on fb and emails etc must get massively stressful and be a lot of pressure. I never though of it like that before.

So you need to take a leaf out of my book, and only talk to people you actually want to talk to, then the others will soon leave you alone or limit their contact to occasional. I am a much worse correspondent and friend because of this. But I only have friends, not acquaintances or contacts, and I gave a far less stressful life.

PS don't ignore me though. I'm special.

Martin said...

Katiegirl - I think the balance is key. For different people, that will take different forms. I like your no-connect Saturday idea.

Connally - welcome :)
And thanks for the article. I am reading a book right now called "Hamlet's Blackberry" that talks about these issues quite a bit. How we can take the good from all these new tools, while still maintaining enough distance from the digital crowd to bring some depth and deeper thought to our lives.

Clara (I'm guessing) - I dont think these ads are long for this world. I had visions of being rich, but at a grand total of $0.17 over the last few week or so, I think they will be removed as soon as I can be bothered.

Venom - not sure I trust your nice comment, so I will just cautiously say "thank you." ;)

Alison - "Special" indeed. *cough* like...short bus style of special?

Artemis Clover: The real L.A. love story. said...

hey.. i feel that way ALL the time which is why i try so hard to stay un connected because i want to enjoy my REAL life and my real connections more. there is soo much noise out there but thankfully, you can control how much of it you let seep into your life. i double check these things constantly to make sure i am not getting caught up in something that does not add value to my life.

so i can't find your email on ur site and you may have done that intentionally. i know i said i'd invite you to a young ambitious LA mixer in november so email me if you are still interested. and NO i won't be offended if no response or ur not.

Alison said...

That reference is completely over my head but I don't care for your tone. Noted.

Martin said...

Artemis - I think you and I see eye to eye on this stuff. It just becomes more of a distraction, and less of a real relationship builder.

Alison - Plotting revenge, are ya?

katiegirl said...

I've just written some more about this on my blog: Internet: Best Thing Ever, or Just One More Thing I Have to "Manage"?.

Have a look if you like. Or not...if you're too busy enjoying real life ;-)