Friday, February 8, 2013

Reality vs. Virtuality

- the state or quality of being real.

- a real thing or fact.

virtuality (aka virtual reality)
- a realistic simulation of an environment

This is probably more of a stream of consciousness about me, but you might be able to relate to it as well. Bear with me. It's long. Here goes...

As with most people I know, I have a Facebook and Twitter profile. And I obviously have a blog. I've come to really have issues with all of these social mediums. Really, the number one reason I keep a profile for my Facebook and Twitter is for my work at home businesses. I run them almost exclusively through social media. I keep my personal blog so family can see pics of our boys and stay updated on them. I keep this blog running for business reasons and for another way to get out some of the randomness in my head.

Wow, social media plays a big part in my life. I bet it does in yours too.

While I enjoy skimming through my Facebook newsfeed when I first log in, there are many times I wish I could just log in to my business pages and bypass all the posts from my virtual 'friends.' Whether it's all the political rants, waaay too much TMI posts, or the happy-happy-joy-joy posts, I have found myself on too many occasions getting sucked into this world.

Same goes for Twitter and blogs. It's so easy to get sucked in to reading organization tips, craft projects, recipes, fashion ideas, and entering giveaways. Don't forget about all the blessed giveaways people host on their blogs! There are very few blogs I read anymore that don't have a dang giveaway going on every few days. But I digress.

I think social media from a business standpoint can be very good, but on a personal level it is such a time waster. A brain cell killer. A virtuality.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a cranky person. I'm not a scrooge. I really enjoy seeing virtual friends and bloggers post cute pictures of their kids (I do kids are the cutest!), I enjoy seeing fun vacation pictures, or reading updates on the newest job, the latest raise, the new house, the new baby, or what have you. Really, I truly enjoy seeing those kinds of things.

However, (and this may or may not apply to you) I've had to really reel myself in. In the not to distant past, I've found myself feeling...well depressed or like I'm not doing enough in my already busy day. You know like cooking, cleaning, organizing, crafting, while also making money at work, playing with the kids for endless hours, going on vacations, wearing makeup, getting out of my pajamas before 10am, always having gluten-free-whole-wheat-dye-free-soy-free-non-GMO healthy snacks and lunches for my kids, exercising for at least 45 minutes every day, taking a shower more than 34x's per week, and then blogging, Facebooking, and Tweeting about the whole darn thing.


Reality check!

Once I felt myself getting sucked into that virtuality. I made a huge conscious effort to take a step back. A giant leap back, if you will.

Now as I said earlier, I enjoy seeing happy-happy-joy-joy. But I have to remind myself that what I see isn't always what I get. While it's wonderful to have a positive perspective on life, let's be real. I don't know one person whose life is always lollipops and rainbows. I know tons of people who are positive, happy people, but they're also human...they have everyday challenges just like me.

Virtuality is just that...virtual. Those 'friends' in my Twitter feed, Facebook feed, and in my blog reader are not real. Well some of them are...but not many. I don't have a real face-to-face relationship with but a handful of those people. A handful. And let me tell you...those real people are not doing all that stuff on a daily basis.

And that makes me feel better. It puts me back to reality.

In taking my giant leap back, I've implemented this mantra: Be present with the people that are literally in the room with me.

For years, I've taken issue with people (especially people I only see a few times a year) who will not put down their smartphone or tablet. Ever. It's constantly in their hands like a blasted IV. They're on it Facebook-ing, playing games, reading something and not being present with the ones that are with them. I find it rude and disrespectful. (End rant) 

That said, since I get so bent out of shape about it, I put my phone away when I'm with people. It's in my purse, in another room, or in my car. Why? Because those that are in front of me are more important than those virtual friends. 

This rule applies with my boys. While I do check email and text throughout the day, I keep it to a strict minimum. My boys keep me very busy, they're growing so fast and I don't want to miss out on it because I'm too busy off in virtuality.

Side story: I used to work at a science and history museum. We would have elementary kids come in everyday for fun field trips and I helped present some of the science activities. Did your parents ever join your class on a field trip? My mom did and I loved it. It was always so cool and fun to have your parent(s) with you on a class trip! Well, this particular day a group of 3rd graders came in. The table I was helping had four little girls, all with their moms. One of the moms had her phone out and was Facebook-ing the entire time. Right next to her daughter. Her daughter kept trying to get her attention, "Mommy look!", "Mommy, did you see the light come on?", "Mommy??"
It was so sad. Her mom was so distracted by her virtual world, that she was missing out on the joy of seeing her child learning something new and having fun. That poor girl had tears in her eyes because her mom chose something else, something not real, over her. 

I will never forget it. I think that's the moment when I decided to take Facebook off my phone.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not perfect...far from it. Some days it's a struggle to not get sucked in. Some days, I'm so worn out from...well being human...that I just want to do something mindless. I think that's ok, in small doses. But not when it takes the place of the blessings that are right in front of you.

Do you struggle with social media on a personal level? How do you deal with it?