Wednesday, March 1, 2017
On Quieting the Chatter
It's day one of my social media fast.
I signed off last night, not before learning that my friend Doug Thompson will cross the Tiber and join me in this Lenten exercise. In his words, Doug hopes that the time away will help him to "figure out my writing practice and clear my head of the chatter."
The chatter. Yes, the chatter.
It's a safe bet that this morning, my feeds would have been clogged with Trumpian chatter. An address to Congress will do that.
I know that this stuff is important, but I don't need Facebook to follow along. I listened to an NPR podcast this morning, which adequately summarized the address. I also read some articles. Most predicted that, despite the measured tone, this is not a "pivot" moment for the president.
OK, so good enough, right? I have passed my "informed citizen" test.
In a pre-Lent world, though, I would have kept going. I would have scrolled down, further and further. The result? Anxiety. Lots of anxiety. And misspent time. Lots of misspent time.
But it is Lent. And as a result, I just have quiet. I remember this from last year. Almost as soon as I deactivated my accounts, it was as if I could hear myself and the world around me for the first time. After a while, that silence became normal, even though it didn't start that way.
It's sort of like the first few steps of any run. Legs and lungs begin to move beyond the norm, making me painfully aware of the muscle strain and labored breaths. Soon everything evens out and conversations can be had, music can be listened to, and scenery can be admired.
But those first moments... here is where I am most attuned to what running does to the body.
Similarly, in these first few moments of my social media fast, I am seeing what the chatter did to my sanity and productivity. Today, as I wrote and read, I had nothing else to colonize my attention. All I have is a messy book manuscript that refuses to write itself.
Maybe I should have given up writing for Lent? Oh well. Too late now.