The other day I was complaining about how the Internet was driving me crazy over the latest controversial topic. I mean, this happens all the time. People will fight over anything! Anyway, once in a while it sort of gets me down. All of the suicide posts were kind of putting me into a funk after Robin Williams took his own life and I was moping around the house and really wanted to turn the Internet off for good. A friend suggested I take a break for a while and I thought about it in a serious way, but then, just when I was getting ready to pull the plug out of the wall I got an email about a painting commission and another one asking me if I was going to be creating an art calendar for 2015.
I realized I couldn’t quit the Internet. It’s my business. It’s my job. It’s my livelihood! I know, I can hardly believe it myself. A couple of years ago I was just writing to myself and Marianne over at We Band of Mothers. How she found my blog I will never know, but I am pretty sure she was my first non relative, non, old friend from high school to read my blog. At the time I was getting two readers a day if I was lucky! Marianne was my first real reader and she gave me hope.
Here I am, two years later with an Etsy shop and a blogging business. My point is, I couldn’t quit the Internet unless I wanted to quit my job. I love my job. I mean REALLY love my job. So quitting the Internet is not an option. Plus, I totally owe Marianne to succeed at this thing since she was cheering me on and reading my posts way before I even remotely knew what I was doing. I can’t let her down even if letting her down is just a figment of my vast imagination, which I am sure it is. My point is there is something special about people believing in you. Giving up is like not accepting a compliment or telling them they have bad taste or bad judgement. I won’t do that to Marianne, even the Marianne in my imagination (no pressure, real Marianne, I swear!).
The thing is, I do get tired of the Internet sometimes. I mean sometimes it makes me want to bang my head on a wall or run away to live on an island. I’d even brave sharks, which, if you know me, is saying a lot. So, I came up with a 5 step emergency internet detoxification plan for when the Internet gets on your last nerve.
Step One: When the Internet becomes like a shark at a feeding frenzy, do not look at your social media feeds for a few days. My biggest problem is with Facebook so I take days off from my Facebook feed pretty often. I still pop on to check if I have any messages I need to answer and I hang out on It’s A Dome Life’s fan page too because I love the people there and I still have posts to write and things to share. I even visit all of my groups to dole out bad advice and “like” other people’s paintings and writing. I just stay out of the stream. I ignore the huffs and the puffs and the whines and the cranks and the miserable people. I avoid the ranters and ravers complaining about the topic du jour. Usually after a day or two things calm down or I just don’t care anymore. Petting my dog instead of reading my Facebook feed can really change my perspective. It’s also good for business because it’s never a good idea to make important decisions when you feel stressed or burnt out. Plus, you won’t say anything you might regret later to that friend of yours you haven’t seen in 20 years that likes to stir up drama all day long. We all have one, right?
Step Two: Put your email on vacation. Seriously. Set up an automated email response saying you are in Hawaii, but will return soon. Or something. I mean, even if you are just home watching Law & Order reruns in your socks while eating popcorn, nobody has to know that. Sometimes you just need a day or two where nobody needs something from you. That’s when you can spend some time thinking and percolating. People emailing know you’ll get back to them soon because they will get your automated response. It takes the pressure off and you just bought yourself a day of day dream believing.
Step Three: Give yourself a vacation from reading all of the marketing, SEO, blogging for business, how to design a website, everything you are doing is wrong and needs to change right now gurus. It’s never ending. Sometimes you need to stop and enjoy what you have created, warts and all. Your blog isn’t perfect, but it never will be because all of this stuff is constantly changing. You’ll never keep up with it all. You’ll try to a few days a week. We all do. Just remember to give yourself a few days of just being on your blog too. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take time to smell the roses. Quit making yourself crazy and quit staying up until 2 am trying to make a widget dance in your sidebar. Next week that will be the one thing the gurus will tell you to never do anyway and you’ll cry over all of the time you wasted.
Step 4: While on the Internet, do not click on any ads. Stay away from shopping. Resist the sales and free shipping. It’s just a time suck to keep you from getting real work done. Getting real work done, like writing a solid blog post or painting something (or even adding items to your online store), will make you feel much more accomplished later. Besides, spending hours looking at clothes you can’t afford or aren’t going to buy is only going to make you sad. Clicking on that ad for diet juice is going to make that ad follow you around the internet for weeks infuriating you daily because you still haven’t lost a single pound. While you’re at it, stop taking all of those quizzes to find out what planet you are, what Happy Days character you are, or what city you should live in. Seriously. Stop clicking all the nonsense…just for a few days.
Step 5: Turn off the computer and you cell phone (at least put it down). Make lists on real paper. Call your friend. Eat ice cream. Take your child to the park. Walk your dog. Do a handstand. Get away from it all for at least a few hours each day. No phone checking. Make a schedule and stick to it even if it is for only three days. Sometimes that is enough to give you the break you need so you can come back to work refreshed. Online businesses mean you never go home at the end of the day. You can be available 24 hours a day. Don’t be. Turn off your phone at night too. Do not keep it next to your nightstand. All the alerts will wait for a few hours. It’s OK. People can wait a little while. It will not kill them.
How about you? What do you do to detox from the Internet without completely unplugging?