It has been five years, almost to the day, since I first decided to go for a year without the Internet. Five years ago, in the fall, except that was a fall in Boston, and the leaves were even more spectacular, framed as they were by massive spans of concrete and asphalt. It doesn’t matter. In any location, there is something about the fall that calls me down and in…into solitude and contemplation.
Okay, so right away, no, I am not telling you today that I am going to go for another year without the Internet. I was joking, when I said that, on whatever social networking platform I said it on. But jokes do carry a kernel of deep truth, don’t they? You could make the argument that’s pretty much what jokes are for.
This is the truth. I am tired, again. So tired. It is the kind of tired that has to do with searching, and identity loss, and searching for the identity I’ve lost, and that whole circular thing has to do with the great and infinite power I have to create myself. I create myself, over and over again, in cyberspace. In consumer capitalism. In these human hands.
This is the truth. I feel very much the way I did five years ago. I wasn’t Christian then, so it wasn’t the Christian blogosphere that was driving me absolutely-batty-out-of-my-mind-crazy, but it was another region of the same continent. Facebook hadn’t yet come up with the power of voodoo — that is, the power of closed and secret Facebook groups — so I didn’t yet have the problem of TOO MANY FACEBOOK GROUPS that I have now. But the big picture was the same then as it is now. I had this problem, of going to hang out in a certain place to meet my friends, and loving my friends, and also feeling like, “Hey, guys, could we meet someplace with a little more light and a little less annoying advertising? Maybe some trees…?”
This is the truth. I am struggling, again, with the way the Internet freezes things. Under these golden and reddening leaves, my computer is a frozen thing. It might as well be a rock. And all our thinking about grace and change and history — what do we think history IS anyway? — is shaped by that. In this cyber world, yes, democracy is now…but democracy is also so many colored dots floating on a screen.
Ideas, out of context. Leaves without trees.
Don’t think I am ungrateful. I wasn’t five years ago, either. The coolest people I know are all on the Internet. Oh, sorry, husband. I didn’t mean that. I meant all the coolest people except for one are on the Internet. And all the coolest chickens are at my place.
Still. I hear this call. I hear it, and it is time again for me to answer it. It is time to answer this call to disengage from the infinite cyber plane, and reconnect with the kind of life that ends in death.
Well…I thought about dropping off. I did think about it. But that just isn’t who I am now. That isn’t where I am now. Five years later, I am basically doing the opposite.
I am doing a #31days. Remember, that fun blog activity where you post every day in the month of October? If you were around last year you know that my math isn’t always quite right….but the principle stands. I am going to blog a lot in October, under the heading “Church in the Woods.” I am going to take a break from blogging issues. I am going to take a break from being an expert, or positioning myself as an expert…of any kind. And I’m going to take a break from self-promotion.
Hear this, please: I don’t believe that self-promotion is wrong. At all. I don’t regret doing it. It’s just that it is so.very.tiring. And it moves in and out of authenticity like lungs breathe and hearts beat and leaves fall.
I have pushed hard this year, for followers, and connections. I’ve been doing a lot of guest posting and taking risks with subject matter. I’ve been trying to let my voice be heard above the din. And I do believe that good work has been done in this path, in this season. It will help me along to my goal of being a published writer. I am still on that path, you know, and learning what a difficult path it is only encourages me more to fight for its fruition. It is SO TRUE that sometimes you have to choose yourself, even if it feels a little artificial and a little exhausting. Sometimes you have to choose yourself anyway. Otherwise you don’t get through those locked doors or over those walls. In the end I believe that I’ll be glad I sank my teeth in and pushed so hard.
But the whole thing depends on being able to hear your call. The whole thing depends on having some content that is real — real water for the thirsty — and that means being able to draw from the deepest well, far beneath those shifting surfaces…of identity control and approval seeking and social location.
This is why you won’t see me on FB or Twitter this October. Maybe a little. Maybe not at all. I’ve already removed the apps from my phone, and October is still a week away. If you want to make sure and get me, grab my email or find me on Voxer. Or…just take a break with me.
Just take a break with me.
If you need me, I’ll be drinking in the wild of October in the woods.