Last week, I received a message on social media that went something along the lines of:
“You must be very busy. Too busy for me. I’ll stop bugging you, Alarna.”
The message came two days after our previous interaction, from someone well aware of the project currently taking up all my hours of screen squinting time.
It would have been so easy to fling accusations and blame right back where that came from – except that I was blocked.
Forced into a moment of self-reflection, I realised.
There’s a great disconnect that seems to happen when I compare my online activities with real life.
In real life, I guard my time with the jealousy of a besieged lover…
Friends would be lucky to hear from me once in a month. My family, maybe once in a fortnight.
It’s taken years of training for them to finally understand:
When they text, they may or may not get a reply in the near future, and;
If they don’t explain the nature of the emergency, they (very likely) will not get a call back!
Now, instead of leaving me snarky messages, they call each other to compare notes, and comfort themselves in the knowledge they’re not the only ones being ignored.
So how is it, when my online interactions go beyond casual acquaintance that daily conversations start to be the norm?
Truth is, home alone in the office, faced with jobs you’d rather not do, it’s all too tempting to go on virtual walk about…
By the time you realise you’re enjoying being needed just that little bit too much, you’ve also built up an expectation that you’ll always be there.
Anytime of night or day.
And the rest, as ‘they’ say, is History…
It’s so much harder to break bad habits, than it is to make good in the first place.
So whom do we blame? The ghost in the machine with ADD? Or the attention starved grown up, outside?
A couple of weeks ago, Ms and I took her mother for a birthday treat to see the Monet exhibition at the National Gallery.
The nuances of light captured in his paintings are what might now pass for time-lapse photography. Only instead of a camera, it was a man standing for twelve hours a day, honing his paintbrush with the precision of a lens.
On these working trips, he’d write to his wife, bemoaning the isolation. He couldn’t even reply to his friends, because his work required his ‘total dedication’.
When I read those words, instead of admiring his immense discipline and focus, I suddenly found myself having one of those ‘lucky bastard’ moments.
“He didn’t have to deal with social media, lucky bastard.”
“Neither do you,” piped in Ms, which just made me all the madder.
But she had a point.
How do we expect to create, when we have one eye fixed permanently on whatever social media widget(s) takes our current fancy?
It really has nothing to do with being busy.
It’s about creative focus.
Silly as it might be, I was mad at Monet, because there was no one left to blame but me for my fragmented brain.
We blame ‘them’ for making the rules of engagement, and robbing us of our focus and our peace of mind. But in the end, who are ‘they’ except ‘us’ – which means You. And. I?
‘They’ may not like it, but we do have the power to say ‘no’.
It’s times like this I wish I could get off this planet and issue a general apology for ever being sociable…
You know what I’m saying?