I’m going to see if I can go the weekend without checking social media — or most any media.
I used to joke with my friend John Blake about how my media and political intake would increase during election years. I’d start out in January checking a handful of sites maybe once or twice a day, including social media sites like Facebook, to see what was going on. By October I was practically living in cyberspace.
Then the election would come, and regardless how I felt about the result, I would wean myself away, paying attention to major events but generally letting the country flow on the way it has for 200-plus years.
This election, of course, was different. The president loves his Twitter; his opponents and the news media do all they can to keep up. It’s wearying, and yet it seems like it’s all anyone can talk about. Or, more accurately, scream about. (A few days ago, I tweeted — sorry, even I can’t help myself sometimes — that we’re living in a “pro wrestling world.” I’d prefer a Dick Cavett world, but I’m very much in the minority.)
Yet instead of weaning myself, I’m probably clicking more than I did in October. So I’m going to try to go on a digital diet this weekend.
It helps that I’m traveling. In ancient times — like, perhaps, the 1980s — traveling was great because there were long periods in which you were nowhere, stuck between the places you were supposed to be with no technology more elaborate, and mostly unnecessary, than a pay phone. (I can remember a glorious three-hour layover in the Pittsburgh airport in which I simply spent time reading a good book — and did nothing else.) Now we’re always connected, but that doesn’t mean you have to take part beyond a couple phone calls and a check of the weather.
Now, I like my phone. I like social media. There’s something to be said about connecting to people and events with an immediacy that didn’t exist even 10 years ago.
Still, a travel weekend seems like a good opportunity to detach. In years past, when people had a little too much of society’s consumerism and cantankerousness, they’d take off for a meditative period in the woods, or stay at a monastery. That’s not my style, but I’ll take a few hours of a different place.
In the meantime, please tell all the loud, angry people to calm down. It’s bad for their health.