Why I Haven’t Quit Social Media, Yet.

Via on Apr 13, 2011

Photo: sampsyo

The Poetry Will Be Tweeted.

This morning, a friend (a writer, an editor, a creative soul) posted on Facebook:

I have been posting for National Poetry Month and today I have decided that you name a poet in the comments and I will quote a line from that poet that applies to you.

As I write, it is now ten hours later, and there are 67 comments on the status update. Many are requests; many are snippets of some of the most lovely poetry I’ve read in a long time.

Photo: chillihead

I come like a woman
who I am
spreading out through nights
laughter and promise
and dark heat
warming whatever I touch
that is living
consuming
only
what is already dead.
~ Audre Lorde

A few weeks ago, for a variety of reasons, I “quit” social media.

I say “quit” because I can’t actually quit: social media is my job. Yes, I actually use Twitter and Facebook (and teach others to do the same) for a living. My personal life has revolved, heavily, around these tools since the middle of 2008 when I embarked on an experiment to build a community around my blog. That led to building many very dear friendships with people I first met online, who then became real-life friends. In part, those relationships helped me transition into the industry I now call my work-home, and led directly to me landing the job that I have now.

I live in a home with a friend who first heard my name from someone I met via social media (now one of my dearest male friends). Many of my closest friends are artists and athletes and professionals I might never have connected with were it not for these short-winded communication tools.

My life is blessed by connections with individuals I’ve come to know based on a 140 character start. I’m here, writing this right now for elephant journal, because of relationships that started via Twitter.

And still, sometimes, we all need a break.

A few weeks ago, feeling overwhelmed by some of the drama swirling around the interconnected individuals in my social network, I tapped out. I took a couple of days quietly off from social media in my non-work time, which has stretched into a few weeks of relative non-participation in such communities.

Rather than responding to requests from strangers who want something from me, I find myself spending my time reading or attending to chores or doing an extra yoga class. And while doing those things for myself, a name and face float into my head and a wave of gratitude and abundance and love wash over me.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~ Wendell Berry

I’ve been catching up with dear friends ever since, spending time in person with those who are near, sending a note to the ones who are not. I have a long list of people in my life who have been neglected because of my impossible efforts to be responsive to strangers on the Internet.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.
~ Rumi

It’s been a worthwhile experiment that has now become habit. It will take me some time to catch up with all of the friends and family that I miss, and I am grateful for the task of doing so.

And I am glad that I did not swear it all off completely, lest I miss a morning like this morning, when I had the blessing of reading page after page of poems, each lovingly selected for a broad network of friends.

My request was for Maya Angelou. I’ve loved her lilting, swaying, curvy writing for as long as I can remember loving words. My treat for this morning, delivered to me via Facebook, was this:

Photo: Bombardier

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
~ Maya Angelou

All things in moderation, yes. Spending my time in ways that care for my friends and family and myself, yes. Being grateful for the souls these tools have brought into my real world, yes.

And rediscovering the calm, hypnotic rhythm of reading a few lines of perfect words, thanks to an inspired, creative, talented friend: that’s why I haven’t quit social media, yet. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some poetry to read.

About Sara Lingafelter

Sara Lingafelter is a writer, climber and chronic optimist based in Seattle, WA. By day, she works in social media in the outdoor industry. In her free time, she’s the girl behind RockClimberGirl.com and Two Egg Breakfast and recently launched a new project with Teresa Bruffey called Solo In Tandem to call bullshit on the prevailing notion in sports and outdoor that only extreme athleticism is inspirational. For more information, visit saralingafelter.com or connect with Sara via @theclimbergirl on Twitter.

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5 Responses to “Why I Haven’t Quit Social Media, Yet.”

  1. Jill says:

    Congrats Sara. I think this is awesome.

    Though you and I have passed like ships in the night IRL I hope that someday we will meet and that our connection won't be solely based on Twitter.

    I like Twitter for networking reasons but it can't replace face-to-face meaningful contact, and IMO Facebook is even more dangerous when it comes to the tendency to neglect real-life interactions. I think you reached the saturation point which seems to be fairly common for thoughtful folk who accidentally get too sucked up into the virtual world. Welcome back!

  2. Great, Sara! Look forward to reading more from you. You might enjoy my first elej post about social media: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/04/help-me-im

    Cheers!

  3. Sara says:

    Thanks, all! I appreciate your kind words!

  4. [...] of the more beautiful things in the world. It is the means to exchange with our fellow man. It is a channel of communication and a way to create new and exciting [...]

  5. [...] But you, you’re practicing. You’ve been around the block. You’ve sat enough zazen, done enough pranayama, observed yourself enough to know that you don’t want to become that guy with the Bluetooth headset in his ear at the opera. You are exercising agency; you are training your attention to be both one-pointed and broad like the ocean. You will not be swayed; you are not “on demand” like all those automatons crashing into each other on the freeways, ignoring each other on the couch, their bland faces wanly lit by ever-present screens. [...]

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