I’ve been quieter online these past months.
I’m learning about silence. Learning to step back and recognize limitations: both my own and other people’s. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we invest in these screen-lives of ours.
I went into the woods to live. Intensely, simply, wholly. When we first went off-grid we checked up online once or twice a week. I posted blogs then about the days as I lived them and then stepped away and allowed silence to drape back around me again. This silence is healthier for me, I think it’s healthier for most of us, but distraction is so easy.
We’re a profoundly lonely society.
I think our screen lives often amplify this loneliness. They feed it – groups and ‘community spaces’, hashtags, and virtual movements. All done behind the safety of of screen, without the intensity and vulnerability of actual human interaction. I’m not sure how to fix this. But I can tell you what I’ve been doing to build up a culture of intimacy and humanity in my own life:
- I got off face book – a part from my blog’s largely neglected little niche, I’m entirely away from what seems more and more to have become a distressingly hostile and divisive environment. I know, we have lots of long distance friends and family too! It can be a challenge connecting with them, but I think it’s worthwhile.
- I’m tuning out more – people don’t need to access me easily and consistently. I don’t owe them an immediate response. I owe that time and attention to those entrusted to me, and to God. I’m spending less and less time online, and more time reading, praying, playing, and working.
- Remember the John Prine song: “You’re flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore” – well, neither will your facebook status. “Jesus don’t like killing, no matter what the reason’s for” and when you rail at strangers online, when you tear them down, well “whoever hates his brother has already killed him in his heart.“
I want heaven. I want peace. I’m blocking and clearing out the voices I see that are cruel, bullying, manipulative, and demeaning – even if I actually agree with some of their perspectives. And I’m enjoying the silence.
- I’m re-assessing and (mostly) rejecting some of the ideologies that have formed me and which have become increasingly problematic as I grow in faith and in understanding. It’s been challenging, and deeply rewarding. I feel as though I’m am deep in the ‘Mother’ stage of my life, and my understanding is active, earth and experience-based, and nurturing rather that knowledge-driven and dream-filled as it was in my 20s.
So tell me, please: what are you doing to cultivate beauty, silence, and especially tangible community in your life?