People primarily identify the concept of cleansing with the physical. We detox from alcohol, cigarettes, processed food, drugs, etc. This often requires a total abstinence in addition to the implementation of various cleansing liquids and foods that counteract the negative effect of the chemicals we’ve ingested over a period of time. It is a rebooting of sorts. It gives our body a second chance to start over and try to follow more healthy patterns of living.
There are other forms of toxicity in our lives that are less obvious because they are mental or emotional. People stay in bad relationships for long periods of time, stay involved with negative people, stay in awful jobs, etc. Usually, though, if a situation gets bad enough a person will eventually flee out of basic self-preservation. This is much like physical cleansing because we reach a breaking point when we feel it’s crucial to change certain activities and habits.
But where does social networking and texting come into play in the spectrum of toxicity and negative influence? It seems we are so addicted to this relatively new trend in interpersonal communication that we perpetually put up with anything in order to persist in this often volatile emotional environment. The occasional insulting post or abusive statement is internally processed and then pushed aside mentally in the somewhat desperate pursuit of staying connected. And I’m only talking from the perspective of someone who doesn’t consider himself “totally immersed” and has conducted himself just fine for years as an adult without this technology. Can you imagine the amount of mental strain that goes along with being a teenager in this type of environment and not knowing anything else? It must be a consistently stressful place to be. So the following question arises in the wake of this reality: should people periodically cleanse themselves from this immediate form of social contact, just like we do for our bodies and minds when dealing with tangible real-life issues?
Indeed, social media and texting has turned electronic communication into something that resembles real life. It connects families and friends who can’t be together geographically. It allows people to share pictures and “be together” in an imperfect yet somewhat realistic fashion. But the dark side of all this is that the mind is often taxed from trying to read someone’s emotions, wondering why responses are delayed, weighing out self-worth on frequency of contact, and seeking gratification from strangers in the form of “likes” and “favourites.” This can sometimes be as toxic to the mind as cigarettes and alcohol are to the body.
So where am I going with all this? I’ve decided to do a social media and texting cleanse for 14 days. I am going to keep a journal of my daily experiences throughout this time and see what ramifications occur as a result of me not accessing (or being accessible by) texting, Twitter or Facebook. I am going to start at midnight tonight, Sunday, March 17, and I will resume texting and social media activities on Sunday, March 31. At this time I will post a detailed blog piece on what happened during this period of time. I have disabled all Facebook and Twitter email notifications, and before midnight tonight I will remove my Twitter and Facebook mobile accounts from my iPhone and will turn off text notifications. I will only be using the phone and other non-internet functions on my iPhone during this time. Those with whom I converse regularly already have my email and phone number. I will be checking email on my laptop periodically throughout each day, out of work necessity. And I will still carry my iPhone on me as per usual. In other words….if you need me, give me a ring. What a concept.
I’m admittedly nervous about this 14-day cleanse. After all, I’m a diehard social media person. I’m always surfing Facebook and Twitter. I’m also an avid text person. My bands have group texts that go on for days, and my wife and I converse all the time this way. So it will be hard and probably inconvenient at times. However, this cleanse will answer one major question for me: is every minute I spend communicating electronically a minute I lose from my “real life” with my family, music, etc.? More importantly, am I losing a big chunk of myself when I’m engrossed in what others are doing or preoccupied with posting my own updates about my life? There’s only one way to find out.
My “cleansing liquids and foods” will be books, music, writing, and recording. Hopefully it will be enough to distract me!
See you on the 31st. Wish me luck,
P.S. If anyone else wants to take this challenge, you can post your findings here in the comments section when I post on the 31st. It would be great to compare experiences.