So it seems one of the latest things to talk about—and something I actually find quite interesting although overwhelming in itself—is how we handle the digital overload, and since America loves the whole concept of dieting (god knows why…and for all the talking we do we remain the fattest country of them all).
I came across a link to a new book by Daniel Sieberg who, it turns out, is a quite prolific and well-respected journalist. His new book is out, called The Digital Diet: The Four-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life. (Sheesh, just getting that out of my mouth made me not only spend a few secs away from my keyboard but also lose a few calories. Also, note link is for, how appropriate, the Kindle edition). It’s sort of in the same vein as many books out there, among them Hamlet’s Blackberry which I blogged about earlier and really enjoyed.
Now this is not to be confused with the other book called The Digital Diet: Today’s Digital Tools in Small Bytes (cute title…did I mention that the title of my still unpublished novel, for which I have a friggin‘ ISBN number, was just used by another book which was just published by someone else?!…there should be a law!).
I so wanted to hate Mr. Sieberg, well not hate him because I really don’t hate much of anyone other than one guy who made me cry at work once (MB rot in hell), and I suppose I really don’t hate him either (that guy from work), and hope he’s happy… well kind of …ugh.
Anyway, I digress… distracted by my thoughts and the sounds of new emails buzzing on my screen. So, as I was saying, I wanted to hate him, this Mr. Sieberg. I wanted to chalk up his book and his message to the pop-culturizing book-selling jingo-loving nonsense that fills the waves. But much to my surprise, I actually liked his message, which I read more of in his “Declaration of Disconnection” which he ended with a buzzy sort of phrase which made me smile:
“I’m Daniel Sieberg. I’m a recovering social network addict. And my life is not a status update.”
So now we’re not only overweight (hence the dieting), but addicts. I loved his quite heartfelt admissions of how ego pushed him to value a wall post or a poke more than he perhaps should, how he became a “broadcaster” and a “friend voyeur,” and how his friends thought he was mad to sign off his drug for a year (please don’t tell me he did it just for book sales… please tell me he’ll continue his tale with a happy ending of how he eased back into it with a new perspective and with balance, for real, not just for book #2)
So, what did I do after reading his tale? Well, anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows that I am always one click away from deleting my facebook. But I didn’t. What I did do is scour it clean and leave it there so people can find me and I can find them (yes, I have quite a few friends, whatever the f*# that means), but no more silly wall posts or likes or video clips or things that try to define me (because yes, my friends, admit it, you choose what to FB post with a tiny consideration of how it will make you look…). I set it so that people can, of course, message me, but that it goes to my email, and I don’t plan on visiting often, otherwise.
Actually, I’ve kind of cultured my friends list to include not only “true” friends, but also people I admire, writers mostly, thinking that their links would be of interest, their news topical and relevant to mine. And they are, but to get to them I had to get through the sea of nonsense, the self-aggrandizing comments and the stupid stuff that most people post. What I’ve noticed, though, is that the people I admire seem to be using facebook more sparingly, as a way to communicate the things that are really important to them and which they think might be so to other people. Not that they went to a party on Saturday and are ohh so psyched to be off to Dakar on Monday, but that they read an interesting book, or have one coming out, or link to an article that one might have missed which makes sense of the insanity of the world we live in.
I guess I’ve become either a social media snob or just a hermit, of sorts. More the latter, although I’m sure I’ll be accused too of being the former. It’s just not me and never will be to be out there showing my panties or blowing my proverbial horn. But more importantly I don’t really want to see other people’s panties or know the details of their daily routines…just makes me sad, somehow, as if I were hiding around the corner and peering in their window and saw them doing something highly unattractive and humiliating. I also don’t want to waste my time (and I don’t say that with arrogance, I really mean it. I like to keep my life pretty lean and mean and have room, always, for what is important to me: the people I love, my writing and reading, travel, exploration: cultivating a life for all of the above).
So really, what I think will come out of all this diet talk is a disconnect. There will be those who feast on cheetos and beer and those who prefer field greens and radishes with just a bit of lovely goat cheese and a slice of perfectly grilled meat (ok, I admit it, so not a vegan here). Maybe that’s a bad example. Maybe it’s not about snobbery or refinement, but about simplifying what, in its complexity, makes us less.
Last link here, to one of my favorite writers, Malcolm Gladwell, who discusses his digital diet or, as this article calls it “media diet.” Surprisingly sparse. But maybe that’s why he’s such a wonderful thinker (not to mention thin) and comes up with such fascinating thoughts…
…he has time.