Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thank You, Fellow Bloggers...For More Than You Know

This may be stating the obvious for some but this spring and summer were particularly difficult for Jane In Her Infinite Wisdom.

As near as I can pinpoint, back in April, I found myself floundering in a pool of anxiety, stress, and depression like I hadn't experienced in quite some time. I slogged around in it, churning in it, much of the time, and increasingly became more and more agitated, angry, frustrated, and just plain disgusted by the State of the World and particularly the State of Jane.

As the stress increased, so too did my Facebook time. It got to the point where I felt as though I was addicted to it, addicted to the zone out it provided. I was checking it multiple times a day, not really paying attention to it but perusing it just the same, "liking" stuff I didn't actually care about, not reading any of the articles or watching any of the videos, just...sitting there watching the world go by in a stream of, frankly, crap.

Additionally, I was ignoring other aspects of my relationships, my writing, my blog reader. Every once in awhile, I'd wander over to my Google Reader and see 200, 300, 500+ new posts, get overwhelmed, mark all as "read", and close the window vowing to check it daily from that point forward...and then weeks would pass without so much as a glance at what other people - people I genuinely enjoy - were writing.

And then one day?

I just snapped. I don't know what it was that triggered the breaking point but, when I hit the wall of apathy, I called a moratorium on all Facebook activity. I didn't check in at all for several days. I didn't do much of anything at all on the computer for several days. I just let myself be...alone.

It was then I realized what was causing some of my constant agitation. Facebook had always been a way for me to connect with friends, know what they were up to, let them know what I was up to, on a daily basis. I've got a wide circle of friends and, even though I can't possibly see everyone as often as I'd like, Facebook allowed me to keep up with all the news so that I could stay connected - at least, virtually - without making an already jam packed social calendar a nightmare. Unfortunately, increasingly, Facebook had become a sort of data warehouse for SHIT I DID NOT CARE ABOUT. Videos, lolcats, articles I had no intention of reading, demotivation posters. Trying to find even one status update that wasn't one of these things had become an arduous task I didn't have time or energy for and it was really pissing me off!

Of course, I went back. Thankfully, I'd learned a lesson or two and limited the time I spent and became more thoughtful about my interactions and my "likes".

When a Google + account invitation was extended to me the day it debuted, I signed up, signed on, and relished in the peace and quiet of the space. Few were talking. When they did, I was able to actually listen. This remains the case. I prefer Google + because it isn't a constant stream of nonsensical chatter. I like the simplicity of it, I like how I can pay more indepth attention to what is being posted, and I feel like I am participating more there because what's being said is more meaningful to me.

When Facebook subsequently made it's most radical changes to date shortly thereafter, it was even easier to spend less time there. I became even more wary of their privacy policies and their algorithms. I restricted and censored nearly every comment, every "like", every update I posted knowing whatever I did was showing up in 200+ people's tickers. I knew that, whatever I posted, if someone came along and commented on it, my post was then viewable to all the friends the commenter had in their tickers all around the world. I was decidedly uncomfortable and more than a little paranoid. I'm bound by an ethics policy after all - you know, if I'd like to stay employed.

So I withdrew even further from Facebook.

Then? Then Acr0nym and I took our trip. And all of a sudden, I had something to talk about that wasn't Jane In Her Infinite Angst. And I took full advantage of all the riches of that particular blog fodder. For the first time in months, I was blogging nearly daily - long, rambling posts - and it felt...AMAZING (even if I was full 'o phlegm).

Then, while I was documenting the American Gods and Roadside Attractions Tour in this very blog, I received comments from two women - strangers to me - who'd discovered my blog through our adventures in the Heartland. Go Big or Go Home was one and the other was The Shiftless Wanderer. Finding them both to be absolutely delightful in their own ways, I added them both to my Reader (which I had not checked in quite awhile). And then, when I was looking for something to read while taking a break from writing, I turned to my Google Reader - having browsed to both Facebook and Google + and finding nothing that held my interest.

What I discovered were riches beyond measure...little gems from all over the world...thoughtfully written missives about all sorts of things by all sorts of people!

There were nearly 300 unread items. I read each and every one of them that day. I re-discovered old "friends" - friends who'd continued to talk about life, continued to live life, in my absence. I realized I was loving every minute of these somewhat intimate details, these snapshots of people who'd captivated me enough to make me want to add them to my feed.

Since then, I've diligently checked my reader at least once a day. I've read every post - even if it meant I was forced to click through to the actual blog in order to finish reading the post - a complete nuisance (you do understand that isn't necessary, right? Your count will be the same if you allow the whole post to show up in rss feeds instead of making people click through. I swear.) - so that I could feast myself on other people's lovely words.

And I've been ever so much happier for it.

I'm connecting with people I don't even know - far better than I was connecting with people I do know on Facebook - because what the bloggers I read were putting out there was their own infinite wisdoms. It felt SO good!

I've withdrawn much of myself from social media like Facebook and even, to some extent, Google +. I find myself turning more and more toward my blog feed reader because what y'all have to say seems more important to me somehow.

It's NaBloPoMo month. And, as I read through my Reader, I remember at what point I added so many to my feed during NaBloPoMo last year and then #reverb10...

Michael's Fishbowl
Uncle Typewriter
Geekin' Hard
Letters from a Small State
Julie Unplugged

And so many more! I may not comment but, make no mistake, I am reading every word of you.

And here we are again, NaBloPoMo 2011 and I am ripe for even more. In the last 3 days, I've added another half dozen blogs to my reader...

Different but Determined
Life with a Parasite
Is This the Middle

And others.

We may have several things in common. We maybe have not a thing in common...except blogging. But something you said has made me laugh, or made me cry,  or made me a way people I know, people I only interact with on Facebook, can ever imagine.

Thank you.

I'm looking forward - SO MUCH - to adding more of you. <3


Elizabeth said...

Amen! I'm so happy to be blogging again, and I'd much rather spend my time blog hopping and leaving comments to things I actually read and enjoyed that hitting a thumbs up to Dole Bananas (yes, I really liked Dole Bananas). I went through a divorce in late 2009 (at the ripe old age of 24, heh) and for a year really did not feel comfortable at my blog but stubbornly not wanting to give up my blog name/space etc and after time all of that nonsense went away and now I feel free to write again. I found you through the blogroll list at nablopomo and am glad to add you to my google reader. :)

Just Jane said...

Welcome! And thank you. By the way, I read a bit of your archives and want you to know I spent an awful lot of time in the Harter classroom complex. It opened the year I started at UNLV :).