Volume Control

Montgomerville, Pa. (2012)

Today marks two weeks since giving up all forms of social media for Lent. I am one third of the way through the six weeks I have committed to stay away from FacebookTwitter, and Google+.  These are the big three. There are many other social media sites of course. Just prior to Lent I deleted my accounts with TumblrLinkedinSchoolFeedPinterest, and a few others. When I gave it some serious thought these sites were serving me no purpose whatsoever except being a huge waste of time. I consider Flickr to be exempt from the Lenten sacrifice. Maybe that is cheating, but I don't look at Flickr as a form of social media. It is a pure photography viewing resource.

I don't want to come across as being smug about it, but I think my internet time has become quite a bit more intelligent and useful in the past two weeks. Without the time suck of Facebook, I am actually doing some serious research for several essays I am writing. My productivity has increased ten fold. Instead of following random links posted by other people, I am consciously deciding where I want to go on the internet. I am using Google Reader on a daily basis and find myself keeping up with photo blogs that I had neglected for lack of time. I feel more in control of my internet time versus being led around by the internet, if that makes any sense.

Am I missing anything? I think that was the biggest concern I had. I will be missing out! Missing out from what I couldn't say, just being away from the general buzz and noise I guess. Its a very juvenile concern I realize. Of course I'm missing out. Certainly there are things I haven't heard or seen. Events I am being invited to that I will never know about. Facebook sends me an email every few days now with the subject.... Christopher, You have notifications pending. They are worried about me?  They don't want me to miss out!

Another concern I had was that visits to this blog would go way down without the help of social media. Each new article on PHOTO/arts Magazine has always been posted as a link on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ as a way to drive new traffic and promote readership. As of the start of Lent I am no longer posting these links. I was convinced that page views would drop without the help of these promotional links to social media sites. So far, there has been no effect at all. Average page views have remained unchanged at around 300 per day with no dip at all in the past two weeks. Obviously this is a small readership level. If the numbers were much higher, one might expect to see at least some adverse effect from an elimination of social media promotion. But I am still surprised at the lack of impact. My assumptions about the necessity of social media marketing are in doubt.

I'm not against social media. I think it has a valuable role to play. We all need to find a level of personal involvement that doesn't tip us out of balance. My decision to give it up for Lent is a part of a bigger picture for me. My New Year's resolution of 2012 was to Turn Down The Volume.  That applied to everything.  TV, Music, Talk Radio, and the Internet. Noise. Chatter.  I drive for a living. Eight hours in the car every day. For years I listened to the radio all day long. I started meditating with a group once a week last Fall, and found that after driving around with the radio on all day that I couldn't stop the noise inside my head during meditation. The internal buzz was impossible to turn off. Since New Year's I have been driving all day without turning on the radio. No chatter. No jingles. I listen to the hum of my engine and the sounds of the road. When I meditate now I can reach a deeper level than I ever could before. I am no longer battling the internal noises. The volume has been lowered.  Two weeks away from social media and the volume has come down even further. I haven't decided where my volume level needs to be on a permanent basis. I do know that mine was way too high.  For the moment I am enjoying the peace and quiet. 

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