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I was reminded this weekend of how important time is.  We mark time by different seasons in our life.  Most of the time when we think of seasons we think of the four seasons of the calendar year.  Those seasons are Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  Each one of those seasons brings with it something unique that reminds us of that time of year, and why we either love it or dislike it.  For instance, I am not too fond of Summer because it is just so miserably hot.  Once the temperatures start creeping beyond 90 F I find myself staying inside more and outside less.  The only time I do not mind sweating is when I am at the gym.  The rest of the time I do not care to.

We only have so much time here on this earth.  I believe that our allotment of time is given to us by our creator God and that it is our responsibility to use it as we will.  We can either use it productively or we can waste it away with frivolous activities.  As I said earlier, I was reminded of this because one of our members of our men’s life group is in the ICU at one of our local hospitals.  His precious wife woke up early Sunday morning to find her spouse not responding.  Thankfully through CPR and modern medicine they were able to bring him back and is now in ICU fighting for his life.  Why is it that it takes things like this to remind us of how precious life is?  Maybe we just assume that we will have another tomorrow when the reality of it is that we may not.

Seasons brings change.  Some of those changes are good, some are bad.  Some changes bring life and some brings death.  Some of those changes we have no control over like the seasons I described above.  Some things in our lives we do have control over such as how will I spend this 24 hours.  In a 24 hour period I get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.  That leaves me 16 hours for the rest of the day and 8 of those I spend at work.  That leaves me 8 hours to do with as I will.

Just this week one of my blogging friends described how she intentionally went through a digital detox.  She intentionally stayed away from social media because she realizes how much time she wastes with it.  How many of us can admit to the same thing?  How many hours have  I wasted on Facebook mindlessly scanning my time line to read this and that.  How much of the information I get from my Facebook timeline is a total waste of time?  Probably more than I would like to admit.

One of the things I have decided to do is to go through my Facebook friends list and take a hard look at who I am communicating with and why.  How many of my FB Friends actually communicate with me in a meaningful way?  Out of 462 supposed friends I have about 25 or 30 people that I either know in real life or have been communicating with online for quite some time.  All of those people are now in my Close Friends list and those are the people that I will be communicating with when I post to Facebook.  The rest of the people I moved to the acquaintance list and I unchecked the “follow on time line” so I do not see their posts.  I still have some folks that are not in the close friends list that I will chose to post to my time line because they have something interesting to say.  For the most part I have cut out all the endless drivel about politics and religion.  Some folks are just super obsessed with their view points and I have consumed way too much of it.  I have found that the overload of information about several topics has just affected me in a negative way.  It is time to cut back I believe.

Now that I am going to do less mindless following of my FB timeline I will have time to read books, write in our blog and reconnect with family and friends.  When I say reconnect I mean to reconnect the old fashioned way.  I am going to learn how to pick up the phone and call people.  I might even write a letter or two and drop them in the mail box.  How absolutely wonderful could that be? Would you like to have a pen pal?  If so, hit me up and we can do that.

I also plan on spending more time finding my Happy Places.  I spend some time down the street from our house at a place where I can pull off the road and see the Stono river.  It is relaxing to unplug from social media and enjoy nature.  It is nice to listen to the water lap against the rocks and watch the birds.  The locals like to come out to fish and catch crabs.  Sometimes I like to shut my eyes and just listen and catch a nap.  A small season to relax and enjoy some me time.  A slice of time and a place to reflect on what matters the most.

Do you struggle with things in your life that are a huge waste of time?  How do you deal with it?  I would love to hear from you dear reader.


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Good bye Facebook

I finally did the unthinkable.  I pulled the plug on Facebook.  Yes, I deactivated my account, after being there for several years. Why did I deactivate my account?  Gosh, let me count the reasons. 

A. Facebook , as one of many social media portals, has been consuming way too much of my time.

B. Facebook privacy issues.  Maybe I should say the lack of privacy, or the fact that they make you work way to hard on keeping your information private.  Is there such a thing as privacy on Facebook?

C. Facebook has gone out of their way to make the interface way too complicated to use efficiently.  I feel sorry for people who have decided to utilize Facebook for professional purposes, and have invested many hours to set up a presence on Facebook. 

D. I got sick and tired of the never ending game requests and application requests from people. 

Yes, in some ways I do miss Facebook.  I loved playing Texas Holdem, Scrabble, and Words with Friends.  I enjoyed keeping up with those friends and family in my main feed window.  In the last several months the usability of Facebook has deteriorated to the point that I no longer care to mess with it.

The term “Facebook Friends” is a bit misleading.  Before I knew it I had hundreds of so called friends.  I understand that social media makes it easy for folks to make connections with lots of folks online. I love making real connections with real people.  The problem with social media is that we only have so much time in a day, and we can only devote so much of that time to a handful of people.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to evaluate how I spend my time.  I work a full time job and take computer courses online through a local tech college.  I am married to a wonderful wife and have several teenagers living at home that consume time and energy.  What little free time I have needs to be invested more wisely, than wasting it away on social media. 

Is the social media monster consuming too much of your time, or have you been able to tame that beast more efficiently than me?


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How much connectivity is too much?

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Gtalk, and lots of blogs to read and respond to.  Social interaction and connectivity seems to be the buzzword these days.  I connect to the “social media” hive through multiple conduits.  I connect through my work computer,  laptop, Blackberry Storm and now my iPad 2. 

It is almost as if I must stay connected for fear of missing out on what my friends are doing, or missing something that is happening in the world around me.  I can turn it all off when I need to. When I am at work and I am busy I forget about social media and get the tasks at hand completed.  It is almost a welcome relief to turn off the noise. 

I read online, where someone proclaimed 2011 as the year of social media.  I also read where “experts”, have determined that Facebook is harmful to the well being of my children, and that I should not allow them to use that service.  I must be a bad parent because both of my children have been on Facebook for years.  In our household broadband Internet connectivity is a necessity and not just a want.  Katy and I both attend online classes for two different universities and as an I.T. professional I need to have access to VPN and the work network so I can do support work and pay the bills.  I could lose cable television tomorrow and I would not shed  a tear.  Losing the Internet connection would cause problems. 

I feel like Katy and I are fairly tech savvy, and we are aware of the dangers of being connected to the Net.  I told Katy the other day that I wish that Justin and Kristina were not so addicted to Facebook, but then I look in the mirror and realize, that they must get it from me.  Maybe it is a genetic code thing?  One of the positives of my children being online so much is that they are sitting at home where I know they are safe.  What would they be doing without Internet connectivity?

Maybe they would be out in the world hanging with their friends, and having even more opportunity to get into other kinds of trouble.  I believe that our teenagers socialize just as much online as their adult parents.  I am not sure where the shift happened.  At some point society withdrew within itself and now it is safer to talk to strangers around the globe instead of talking to the neighbor next door.

In the midst of the constant social media noise I find myself looking for a balance that will help me to be socially active online, but enable me to turn the noise off, and find an inner peace and tranquility. When I get home from work I force myself to leave the iPad and laptop off so I can sit down and watch the idiot box and eat supper.  Again, I am always having to be entertained with some sort of visual stimulation.  Maybe I am on to something here. 

How much visual stimulation is too much?  The other day when I was in Dallas Texas, I ran out of minutes on ATT broadband service for the iPad.  I found myself with a cup of coffee in hand and walked outside to get some air.  When I walked to the front yard there was a cool breeze blowing through the trees.  I sat down in a lawn chair and the coffee cup in my hand.  It was nice to disconnect and just sit there enjoying the sounds of nature and the cool breeze.

Do you struggle with being connected to social media and e-mail?  How do you disconnect from it all, and find peace and tranquility?  Do you think we need to start a support group for those of us that are too connected?  How would you advertise that support group?  How much is too much?  

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Twitter Meetup in Charleston

Katy and I had a good time this evening as we met up with some folks that are part of the social media group here in Charleston.  I knew everyone in the group except for one person so it was nice to meet someone new.  We met at Zia Taqueria in Charleston and then we went to the Terrace Theater to watch the Social Network movie.

As always the food was excellent and  we all had a great time chatting it up about all sorts of topics which included the Wikipedia Sex Toy link that was on Andra’s blog this morning and the knit sibs culture and the knitting foot fetish sub culture that Vhanna was speaking about.  We met Robin from Mt Pleasant and had a fun time getting to know her a little bit.

The Social Network was not at all what I was expecting.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “It SUCKED” to 10 being “It rocked my socks off”  I would have to give the movie a 5.  I had the expectation that the Social Network movie which is about Facebook was going to speak to how the Social Media of our day and age has affected how we relate to one another both online and offline.  For those of you who have not seen the movie yet I will not spoil it for you by saying anything else.  It was NOT a bad movie, I was just expecting it to be something else.

On our way home I decided that I needed to plug my Blackberry Smart Phone into the charger and let it charge. We were sitting at the corner of Maybank Hwy and Folly Rd at the red light and I decided to kill the car and unlock the glove box.  When I went to start the car again it was dead.  Luckily for us some nice people who were in two separate  vehicles stopped to help us almost as soon as we broke down.  One man used his truck to park behind us and put on his emergency flashers so someone would not plow into our vehicle.  Another man pulled in front of us with his truck and attempted to use jumper cables to jump our car.  When that did not work her pulled his battery out of his truck and put it in our car and our car started right up.  I am very thankful for the assistance and I believe that they went above and beyond the call of duty.  Their random act of kindness helps to renew my faith in man kind.

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