I’m back to work. Same sort of work, different place.
This job is less - less strenuous, less stressful, less hours. I get to work alone. Once I get the horses out, I have two pot-bellied pigs for company - Mabel and Oscar. Their grunting, squealing chit-chat is delightful - and the only conversation in which I’m required to partake (or not, they’re happy to talk amongst themselves) as I go about my chores. It’s also about five minutes from home. The only unknown element is whether or not my shoulder will hold up to it. I don’t have full range of motion back — I likely never will. The orthopaedic surgeon said he’d rather the joint was stiff but stable. I have to agree. I have no desire to go for dislocation #4, thankyouverymuch. We’ll see. I'm not holding out much hope at this point, but that's okay...I think I had to do this again to remind myself why I don't want to do it again.
One of the pluses of working alone, with only pigs for company, is that I can get caught up on my podcast listening as I work. I’ve had a huge backlog of things to listen to - and I’m that particular sort of strange that gets twitchily overwhelmed over that sort of thing. Which, of course, is ridiculous because no-one is forcing me to listen to any of it. As I said, I’m just that sort of strange.
Catching up on The Slow Home podcast, I listened to an episode today that made an incidental comment about social media and it got my Thinker turning over. Considering that our culture is, by and large, one driven by convenience, you have to wonder how much of the appeal of social media is that it’s just a more convenient way of interacting with other people. We seem, again, speaking broadly, to be so invested in things being easy and ‘efficient’ and in maximizing our productivity; we place immense value on how easy and efficient a thing is, and apparently our interactions have to be easy and convenient in order for us to bother engaging with one another at all.
A prime example, in my own experience, is the way Instagram has usurped the world of blogs. So many people that I used to ‘know’ from the blogging world, abandoned their blogs and moved themselves over to Instagram, usually citing ease of use - “it’s so much faster/easier” or else “I’m just so busy these days and this is a more convenient way to connect.”
Fast. Convenient. Easy.
Sounds a bit like processed food.
Disclaimer: I know there are people for whom Instagram is all they need/want in online interaction or as a creative outlet. Which is marvelous for them and I'm in no means passing judgement on anyone's choices -- I'm simply noodling over my own experience and noticing how I'm not particularly enjoying it in this season of my life.
I can’t help but wonder about what we’ve lost by relying on fast/convenient/easy to support our social interactions.
So, as an experiment, I’m ditching Instagram and just focusing on my blog. I feel strongly about making my interactions more intentional -- so perhaps this is a way to do it? I'm not certain. As I said, it's an experiment. I want to see for myself how little I need any form of social media.
I’m going to miss out on quite a bit, I’m know - that niggling worry of missing out has been what has driven me back to IG after previous sabbaticals and my chief concern is losing touch with people I care about***. But another thing I heard on the same podcast (different episode) was the idea of JOMO — the joy of missing out…as an antidote to FOMO — the fear of missing out.
I really like the sound of that - to endeavour to be utterly content with the things that make me utterly content and not worry about what everyone else is doing. Not a bad way of going on, I don't think.
I'll let you know how it works out.
ps. I feel I should qualify this little revelation by saying that I’ve been fairly uneasy in my relationship to Instagram for a good while now. One of the big issues I have is the advertising — I’ve noticed an increase in that lately as well as the fact that I don’t feel particularly comfortable pouring any great amount of my creative time/energy/resources into a platform over which I have ZERO control and which could radically alter the way they 'do business' with no input from their users at all. I admit to being very nervous for the people who have built their online empires on the shifting sands of Instagram.
It suddenly seems a not-good-idea to spend a great deal of my time composing lovely photos, and pithy captions and then handing it over to a nameless, faceless algorithm. Especially one that’s driven purely by commerce*. Which is to say, completely counter-intuitive to my own personal values.
So why not take lovely photos and write heartfelt words and put them on my blog - the motives of which are of a purely creative bent and suffer only the (not insubstantial) whims of yours truly. I really feel that, these days, Instagram is just Facebook with a different interface and I have nothing good to say about Facebook.**
* the algorithm is tracking you - that’s how it decides what pictures to show you and in what order. It’s also how it decides what adverts to show you. I find that to be extremely insidious. Being a cog in a consumerist machine is not one of my core personal values.
** in the interest of full-disclosure - I do maintain a personal FB account, primarily for horsey-related activities and for communications from the stable where we keep Buzz. I consider it an occasional, necessary tool, not a pastime.
*** but will I? If social media is the fast-food form of communication, then what constitutes a whole-food approach? Reading and commenting on blogs? Emails? Snail mail?