Nov 25, 2020–For someone who makes a living writing and posting online, it has been a slap in the face to spend the past few weeks avoiding social media.

It’s like being in a 12-step program.

With the runup to the elections, emotions were high. Throw in the constant pandemic news, and by election day I was done. Except for essential business, I turned off the twitter.

I hadn’t realized how much time I had been spending following arguments in which I held no stake. The first thing I noticed is how much time there was in a day. Suddenly I literally had hours to use. That is daunting.

This is the same phenomenon that happened back in the 1990s when TV broadcasters switched to digital signals. Overnight, our 30-foot antenna stopped receiving. No more local news, cloying sit-coms, or political pundits. It was like the sun coming out after a decade-long thunderstorm. We rubbed the film from our eyes, threw open the shades, and waddled out into the bright sunshine of daily life. My writing output doubled and I reconnected with my surroundings.

And I didn’t even watch that much TV to begin with.

But eventually the internet extended its tentacles even into our corner of the Hill Country. From a dial-up modem to an internet hotspot, and now to fiber-optic, the speeds, bandwidth, and content selections grew wider and faster. Soon I was “rewarding” myself in between projects by taking a peek at what the world was arguing about on Twitter and Facebook. The peeks grew more frequent, until my work/play ratio was about one paragraph of writing to 20 minutes of browsing. It was like a rat pushing a lever to get a pellet of rat chow.

It’s so sad. How we cling to life and cherish it, yet think nothing of spending hours every day checking in on what others think and do and take photos of. I’m surprised how many of us don’t know what to do with our time when we own it. Forget social media. Why do we play endless games of computer solitaire and tetris? Forget computers. Why do we spend hours solving crosswords and putting together ever more complex jigsaw puzzles?

Where did all those dreams go of changing the world and making a difference? How many of us are content to fill up time, looking forward to going to bed so we can look forward to getting up?

So thanks to world strife, I have decided to take back control of my time. The internet is a wonderful tool, one we can’t conceivably do without. Social media is also a logical use of that tool. I’ve reconnected with forgotten friends, made fascinating new ones around the world, and I get to share my thoughts and be challenged by others’ ideas.

But instead of spending all our time talking about what we are doing, sometimes it’s just better to go out and do it.