me, the hardest thing about being online is remaining focused on creative
endeavors important to me. The multiplicity of voices—and the community that you
care about—can make you forget your center. You get sucked into other agendas
that could be worthy, but are never what you intended to get mixed up
in. Sometimes, it’s hard not to play. You love the networks you’re a part of.
You want to connect and contribute. You want to pay it forward.
then it becomes hard to extricate yourself. You react and sometimes let it
dictate your schedule. More and more often, you look up and realize that nothing
you’ve been doing for the past few hours (or days or weeks!) much related to the
underlying purpose you have for your own creative work.
is so much to do, so much to participate in, so much to respond to—so many
opportunities. It is a double-edged sword. Who doesn’t want more
opportunities? But when the online community starts writing your to-do list,
what happens to your own vision?
not necessarily better at dealing with this than anyone else. I have periods of
discipline, and then I don’t. I often gain back my discipline when I have
moments away—to allow my own perspective to return. Some of the things I try to
reading or creative work first thing in the morning, for 3-6 hour stretches.
email for 8-12 hour periods—sometimes 24 hours.
offline after dinner.
I feel guilty about these things. What if students, colleagues, or clients need
a response quickly? Is it OK to disappear for a full business day? I try to tell
myself: Yes. And to also set others’ expectations so I don’t feel guilty.
Resolutions from Citizens for a Saner Internet—and Life
sharing three beautiful posts for every negative post we feel we must share.
angry posts only if they significantly contribute to an important conversation.
anger as important, a red flag type emotion, that loses its strength if all we
ever do is feel angry.
headlines that are intelligent, witty, or intriguing without exhausting our
readers by frequently playing the “outrage card” to get click-throughs.
feel we want to listen to an angry Internet conversation for what it may be able
to teach us about a subject, we resolve to do so silently for a “waiting
period,” in a stance of learning rather than one of defense and counterattack.
not link to attack journalism from our websites, so as not to give more power to
the writer or website of said journalism. Related, we will not link to or
re-share iterative journalism, which is a sloppy form of journalism designed to
deliver a “scoop” that may have no foundation yet in truth.
ways to move beyond the “page view model” of Internet sustainability (which is
one reason attack or sensationalist journalism is often pursued by individuals
and websites, because it can result in high page views, which can translate into
staying financially sustainable).
offline for periods of rest—optimally, one offline day a week and getting
offline by a certain cutoff time in the evenings—and use this time to cultivate
face-to-face relationships, read, exercise, or otherwise interact with the world
If we are
unsure about our own angry or sensationalistic post on a subject, we will first
pass the post by trusted friends who come from different viewpoints, in a more
private setting, before deciding whether to hit the publish button.
have been online for hours and are finally simply “surfing” because we feel
lonely or unfocused, we will get offline and spend time with people
face-to-face, read, exercise, play, or delve deeply into a new interest area—one
that will seriously challenge us and open up new avenues for our learning and
anger isn’t as much the issue (for me) as feeling buffeted by the concerns,
egos, and ambitions that can be baked into social media interaction—where our
moods and attitudes can be influenced who’s following, liking, responding, or
connecting … or by who’s getting recognition or not … or by who’s agreeing or
participating or not. Getting stuck in that thought pattern is a sure sign
you’ve lost focus and probably control over what you’re trying to
that aside: I tend to have a bigger problem dealing with email distractions than
social media distractions. Social media is easy to compartmentalize when needed;
I’m still working on that with email.
As Laura says at her original post, feel free to take the 10
resolutions above and publish them on your blog. The resolutions are a community
thing, and they belong to you if you want them to.