Yes, I know tomorrow is New Year’s Day. But I’m declaring independence anyway.
If you’ll look to the right sidebar you’ll notice that I no longer have a Facebook widget there to entice you to follow me there. There are several reasons for this, the chief of them that social media was pulling me away from my children, my husband, my rest, and my studying, and it simply had to stop. In last several months, Facebook has so effectively tweaked its algorithms to keep readers on their site that I couldn’t get off the stupid thing.
I was drowning in the voices of people who are both completely irrelevant to my life and useless to teach me anything. Facebook is a habit-forming, shallow product, and I want nothing else to do with it. Not only does it suck me in, but I’m also providing content for Zuckerberg et. al that makes them money and sucks other people into mindlessly wasting time they don’t have, as well. It might be entertaining, but it is not very edifying.
Having cut that chatter out of my life completely and found that the only thing I’ve “lost” is about 2,700 sets of eyeballs that weren’t really watching anyway, I’ve started noticing some other ways that the internet, including this here blog, has thrown stumbling blocks into my family’s path. I’ve stopped tracking my stats, turned off Google alerts, and done several other things that bloggers who want to succeed are definitely not supposed to do. That’s OK. I want to succeed, but not at the expense of my real work.
While blogging at GAH! has been a very positive thing, most of the things that go with blogging—social media, networking with other bloggers for “opportunities”, trying to keep one finger on the pulse of the marketing trends of the day (hello, Pinterest, you idiot!)—have not. I’ll bet even those of us who don’t blog are finding themselves sucked into the screen for far too long, many days. I’ve been reluctant to completely cut ties with many of the tools I’ve used to interact with people because I felt like I would be isolating myself and killing my blog. That is the conventional wisdom, isn’t it? Promote via social media or die!
But I’m not sure I believe the conventional wisdom. I’ve found it to wrong about nearly everything else in life, so why not this, as well? The idea that the best way to get traffic to your own website is to direct your readers to hang out with you on somebody else’s website seems a bit silly to me. Great marketing by the social media moguls, I guess, but it doesn’t turn out so well if you’re not one of them. So I have decided to write here, and here only. If it is any good, you’ll subscribe or bookmark it. Maybe you’ll share it on social media yourself sometimes, though I’d actually encourage you to stop doing that if social media takes up more than ten minutes of your day or causes you anxiety that interrupts the peace of your own home, as it was doing to me.
I think we’ve been duped, homeschooling (and especially homeschool blogging) mamas. We’ve been tricked into thinking that we can simultaneously be with our children and not be with our children, or with our friends, or with our husbands. We think that because we’re in their physical presence, we’re doing what we ought to. But my children know better. They know when mommy is distracted by what some stupid stranger on Facebook said. They know when she’s cranky because someone who means nothing to her has said something horrible about her faith or her family or (Lord help me) her looks. They can tell when she has yet again turned her brain off to look at meaningless things that have nothing to do with her real work, her family.
Moms, they know. We’re the only ones being fooled by the illusion that we’re gaining something of value here.
We think that chatting with somebody on Facebook is very much like sitting down with a cup of tea and a good friend. We think twenty-second interactions with people are some kind of “ministry.” But they’re not. The truth is that social media interaction is an interruption to social behavior, not an actual encounter with human beings. Ministry is person to person. Social media mediates. It is a go-between. I’m tired of having a screen full of ads and a corporation to mediate between me and my real life. If I’m going to minister to somebody, it needs to be my neighbor. If we’re going to be friends, we’re going to need to be in the same room sometimes. I need you to be able to smell me and tell me (in the most polite way possible, of course) that the new, all-natural deodorant doesn’t deodorize.
The internet can be a very useful tool for research and getting the news of the day. But it’s not truly social. Not for me. If social media doesn’t demand your attention in the same addictive way it does mine, then feel free to enjoy it. Others may. I may not.
There will always be a comment section here (unless I find that becoming onerous as well). I enjoy the kind of limited interaction I get from comments, but I’m finished with internet “socializing.” If my blog dies from that, then it’s just going to have to die. At least my children will be able to remember something about me besides the blank, uncomprehending look I give them when they speak to me but my mind is on things that don’t even exist in their world.
I’m going to go homeschool my kids now, and I’m going to do it better than I had been. I’m going to do it the way the successful homeschoolers in the days before the internet did it—without the kind of socialization you get from the internet.