Am I the Only Blogger Who Loves to Unplug?

BlogHer Original Post

I have a confession to make: I have no problem unplugging. Hello, my name is Rita, I work on the Internet, and I frequently leave the house without my phone. There, I said it.

I started blogging in 2004 and remember vividly sitting next to Liz Gumbinner at the BlogHer Business '07 in New York City watching her use this crazy thing called Twitter on her new-fangled iPhone. I didn't really get immersed in Twitter until 2009 when I joined BlogHer and no longer had to hide my social media use when someone walked by. In fact, I had more of it than ever -- trying to keep up with Twitter, Facebook, internal IM, two e-mail accounts, my blog, everyone else's blog and BlogHer.com was something that took some getting used to. I started having those work dreams about being assigned to catalogue the Internet again, and that's when I knew I had to get a handle on it.

walking away

Credit Image: ianmalcm on Flickr

This is what I learned: compartmentalization. I do love talking to friends and co-workers and reading all the amazing links I see coming at me from the top right-hand corner of my screen all day. Usually by the end of my workday I have at least twelve tabs open on my browser of things I saw fly by and wanted to read. Usually I do read them, flag them, stumble them, bookmark them or put them in some spreadsheet or other to build on in a future post. And then, every day, I power down the laptop and walk away. At times I return to it at night, but most of the time I don't. I don't sit on the couch with my laptop open in my lap. My phone stays in the charger in my home office, not next to me.

There are a few reasons for my unplugging, but the biggest one is that it was making me anxious. I only sit on Twitter when I'm traveling, really, and sometimes feeling lonely during that travel. Twitter is like a lifeline when you're feeling lonely. But what if nobody writes back? Suddenly, I'm convinced I look like an idiot, or my online friends suddenly hate me, or that I'm impossibly lame. Yes, it's true. That's what anxiety will do to you. And I don't need any more reasons to feel anxious. If I rely on comments on my blog or @ritaarens returns on Twitter for my self-esteem, everything goes off the rails quickly.

Another reason is creativity. Sometimes I feel like my creativity is like a pitcher that gets slowly drained as the day goes on with comments and riffs and work. I have an active offline writing life that needs my brain power, as does my job. I can't drain the creativity all the way down every day and still hit it in the morning. So I spend my evenings talking to my husband or writing fiction or reading or watching scripted television, wading around in other people's ideas and trying to come up with my own.

The last reason is my family. I really, really hate it when people are so buried in their technology they're not paying any attention to me when I'm sitting right there. Recently we traveled to St. Louis and went up in the arch. We had to wait about an hour and a half, and 3/4 of the people were standing next to each other immersed in their phones, and the other half were talking and joking with each other. I remember the conversations I used to have with my family while waiting in line at amusement parks or scenic overlooks. They are different sorts of conversations than you have normally, more existential, usually more light-hearted. I live for those conversations. I was tempted to go for my phone while waiting, too, but I didn't want to be that person.

Am I the only blogger who feels this way?

Rita Arens authors Surrender, Dorothy and is the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep is for the Weak. She is the senior editor for BlogHer.com.

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