This is my 5 month old puppy, Chewbacca:
Chewbacca loves to play outside. Chewbacca loves to play inside. Chewbacca loves to change his mind 50 million times a day about whether or not he wants to play outside or inside.
We rent our house, so there is no option to offer Chewie his independence by putting in a doggie door. So we, in essence, become Doggie Doormen. Open, shut, open, shut, goes the sliding glass door, all day long.
Some days we’ll close off the dining room (so the cats don’t catch wind of what’s happening), and we’ll simply leave the sliding door open. This brings Chewie great joy, coming and going as he pleases.
Until…you try to shut the sliding door. Despite being perfectly content two seconds before, if he hears the slightest friction of the door being pulled against its track, he comes running. Wait!wait! Now I need to be inside – or outside, depending on where he started. I need!need!need! whatever else there is I can have!
The whole process reminds me of the battle I often fight by being so active online.
I will never be one to rant about the evils of the internet, how it’s disconnecting us from real human relationships, how it’s sucking kids into lives of screen glare instead of sunshine. No, I really do love the internet, social media, and all the POSITIVES being online can offer individuals, businesses, families, communities.
But I do notice something that happens to me emotionally if I don’t keep it squarely in check: I develop a false sense of need. I can be completely content in my life, doing my own thing, when I am sideswiped by the immediacy of needing to do something, have something, be something else that I see online.
Pinterest makes me feel like I “need” to be more organized, my meals “need” to be more elaborate (or healthy, or clever, or whatever). Instagram makes me feel like I “need” to have a more photogenic life, “need” to be capturing every moment in vintage filters. Twitter makes me feel like I “need” to have a stronger opinion on issues, “need” to have a louder – albeit more succinct – voice on…well…just about anything. Facebook makes me feel like I “need” to keep everyone updated through play-by-play on all the current goings-on in our family.
I put no blame on these services themselves. If anything, their purpose is like the simple function of a sliding door: to allow access from one point to another. Sites like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, even just blogs in general – they offer access to different perspectives, education, inspiration. This is all GOOD.
It’s my own internal compass that jerks the needle too quickly in their direction sometimes, pulling me along a path that feels more by command than by choice.
The internet is for me what the sliding door is to my puppy. It’s something that seems to offer choices that – if not taken – mean I’m missing out on the elusive “even better” I simply must have. But really, what I must do, what I need to do is remember that whatever side I’m on, wherever I’m at in my life, it’s all good. I can be content, I can be whole, I can be me and my own “enough” and still appreciate all that’s out there on the internet without feeling the “need” to catch up, keep up, and follow suit. Which might make for fewer vintage-filtered photos on Instagram, but a happier life right in front of my eyes.