Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thoughts on "Taking a Bloggy Break"

I spend a lot of time on the computer. I won't deny that. Sometimes it's for work, but much of the time it's for enjoyment. The majority of my computer time is spent doing one of two things: learning new things, or connecting with people.

Unless someone is a bigtime gamer, I think one or both of those two things is what most people do on the computer, isn't it? Chatting, email, blogs, facebook, myspace, twitter -- it's all about connecting with other people. Google -- hello, wonderful tool to find out just about anything you could ever want to know, as well as many things you don't!

Now personally I think that learning new things and connecting with other people are both very good things, so I don't have even an ounce of guilt over the amount of time that I spend on the computer.

But many others do. I've tried for quite some time now to understand just what the issue is, but I don't get it.

So often, on blogs that I follow, I'll read about someone "taking a blog break" for a week or a month or an indefinite period of time, to rethink their priorities or to live life instead of writing about it, etc. They never come right out and say it but the implication always seems there to be that if you spend a lot of time on the computer, you aren't living life. That to fully experience life as it should be, one must not spend very much time on the computer at all, or even must fully break from it for long stretches of time.

What I question primarily is why these people feel the need to share with everyone else that they're taking this bloggy break... (or twitter break... or technology break... or what have you). I know a couple of bloggers that I used to follow -- and just recently stopped following for this very reason -- who do this on a regular basis. They're always having to regroup, to break away from all technology for a week, or from the blog for a week, etc. And it's always this long introspective post explaining to the world why they feel the need to do this.

And those posts always leave me feeling annoyed, quite frankly. To do it once, no big deal. But over and over? What is the purpose? Why the need to share with everyone that you're doing this, and why? If you really want to live life, why not just live it and not worry about your blog or your twitter or your facebook or whatever it is? Why a specified amount of time that you're taking a break and then back to the same old thing? What is the point?

I could understand if someone felt they were really spending too much computer time and needed to back off a bit, saying to themselves, "Okay, I'm limiting myself to X amount of time per day on the computer." But is there really a need to share this decision with the world? (Unless one is looking for accountability, but we don't know if they only spent that amount of time or not so it really seems as if a real life person would make a better accountability partner here...) But that isn't even what I keep seeing. What I keep seeing is, I'm doing nothing for X amount of time and then I'm returning to business as usual. It's usually followed by a question posted to the readers that asks them to consider doing this as well, or asks them if they're having the same problem, etc. And I read those and just shake my head thinking, NO! No, I do NOT have that problem. I DO spend a lot of time on the computer, but I do NOT see a problem with it. Nor do I see how refraining from using the computer for a week only to return to it full force at the end of that period is going to help me "live life" any more completely.

If they want to live life, why don't they just do it, instead of telling us all about it? I usually spend my late evening hours on the computer, but if I have a real life thing to do -- if Little Girl is over for the evening, or if a friend wants to go out and do something, or whatever, even if I have a series of those events that is going to keep me occupied for a couple weeks, I don't even think about the computer -- it doesn't occur to me to come announce on my blog that I won't be posting for X amount of time. Who cares? When I have the time, and have something to say, I post. And when I don't, I don't. Is it really that complicated?

I just don't get why people feel the need to "check in" with the world, I guess. I'm not saying they're wrong -- don't read that into this. I'm just trying to understand.

If you're one of those people, maybe you could enlighten me. Just why DO you take technology breaks, what do you expect to gain from it? Why do you post on your blog that you're not going to post for X amount of time? Maybe you're concerned that your readers will think something happened to you? And apparently that does happen... though to be perfectly honest, I never even NOTICE that a particular blogger hasn't posted in awhile, because there are enough other bloggers who are that I simply don't keep track...

Anyone have any thoughts to offer on this point? Do you feel like you spend "too much" time on the computer, and if so, why do you feel that way? I don't see the computer as a waste of time for me, I see it as a tool for learning and for communication with people, and those are two things I value... but maybe others don't see it that way? Is computer time not "living life"? Because quite frankly, my life is made much more fuller through the relationships that I form and maintain using the computer as a tool -- and that doesn't just mean people I meet online, that includes connecting with family, coworkers, and "real life" friends (as if internet friends aren't real life... which is another soapbox of mine :) ).

So... just wondering... :)

P.S. And no, I am not referring to you. :) The people I am thinking of have no idea I even exist and are certainly not reading this blog. And I'm not referring to, "I'll be out of town for the next week so won't be posting" type of things on blogs. I'm talking about deep introspective posts, again and again and again, about why they need these breaks... So don't get a complex. This isn't about you. :)


Lauri said...

People always ask me why I'm on Facebook every day. And it's to see what people are doing. Or why do I have so many friendss. I can't purposefully keep in contact with the 5 - 20 kids each year that graduate that I've had in youth group for the past 10 years, and then the people who were in it with me. I can sign on to one place and see everything. I think it's great that we can keep in contact without an overwhelming effort.
I don't feel the need to take a break or rather announce it. If I'm tired one night or have something else, I do it and then am on the next night I've heard people say they are taking a break, but I just not sure what they hope to accomplish.

Laura said...

Oh, I'm sure you were referring to me! :) I know that you wait, on the edge of your seat, for me to post another spell-binding blog about my mundane life. Just kidding! Seriously, I'm pretty sure you're my only reader, unless someone comes across it by accident. But then I don't blog about taking a break from the computer. I don't feel guilty about my time spent on the computer (usually). Quite often, I'm researching something or I'm working and I switch back and forth to take a break. When I'm busy, as I have been lately, I'm just not there. I don't feel the need to let everyone know. I do have a couple of things to blog about, so that may be coming. Anyhow, enjoyed this and wonder that maybe people blog about taking a break because they want others to beg them not to! They want a reassurance that others cannot live without reading their particular blog...just my take on it. Did I just write a blog about your blog?? :)

Prairie Rose said...

Laura, you totally just hit the nail on the head. The worst offender, and the one that was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, and caused me to write the post out of frustration, is just full of insecurities. Yet it never even occurred to me that THAT'S what all that announcing of the blog breaks was all about -- a plea for people to beg her not to...

I should have figured that one out... glad you did, you put my annoyance to rest. ;)