Before you start using social networking and personal online services, you have little idea of the convenience, just a hazy idea that things might be better. The affirmation of social networking can be exhilarating. You get addicted to it all. The computer is your window on the world. Time to get outside that window. Social networking isn't what it's cracked up to be.
Example: there's a Facebook picture of a couple that I recently met. They're at a rock concert. One of the comments stated simply "Way better than the ex...." I'm glad the ex never logs in to this page. Or is he in jail? An ax murderer? Simply a jerk? I don't know. I just see the increasing banality.
I get to go offline when I travel, which is frequently. Inside my backpack are currently an average of two used hardcover Robert Parker detective novels. They weigh more than my notebook. I try to read at least one novel on each trip. You see, there's not enough room, except in First Class, to use a laptop anymore unless you're very skinny, or the laptop/notebook/netbook is.
Travel can be relaxing again. There's no worry about who's posted what. No email. No IMs. No VoIP calls. No batch jobs to ponder. My family, colleagues, editors, and others in my large circle can't contact me. Yes, I could rent WiFi on some flights. Those that do, need to have their arms tied behind their backs. There is free WiFi in the progressive airports of the world (Note, this statement excepts Chicago's O'Hare Airport for its usurious WiFi) and you can logon there, do your business and logoff. Unless your job is computing. you should be taking a break. There's an excuse when you fly and when you drive, to simply be offline. If they start allowing cell phones on airlines, I'll be sorely unhappy.
I'm also of the belief that if you have an accident while you're texting, your insurance should be void. And you should be banned from either driving, or owning/using a handheld device for a year. Draconian? I fear driving txters.
I'm starting to relish finding the occasional oasis of no-excuse-to-logon. Leave the laptop, leave the phone. Everything forwards to mail of some kind anyway. There's a certain fun in being away from the world's beck and call. Quiet. Paper books and magazine.
The weight of the world is now in my backpack--- phone and other machinery-- seem to be that weight. Somewhere, damnably, the digital blather I've created will be archived for posterity. This geometric growth in digital dirt may be what I'm eventually buried in. Get your shovels.
This story, "Social Networking: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Offline" was originally published by ITworld.