Virtually Divided

brain-piechartIt’s difficult to remember a time when the only thing that could distract you from work or dinner or your favorite TV show was the phone. And I mean the kind that plugged into the wall and only made one sound. Ever. It didn’t play the theme from Django, or the latest from Kanye, Beyonce or LMFAO. It just rang. And the only way to determine who was calling was to pick it up.

Getting things done is much more complicated now that in addition to your antiquated landline phone, your mobile phone with its endless news alerts, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notifications, email alerts, software updates and game requests acts as a HUGE distraction. Add that to your desktop computer (if you are chained to one like I am) with its email alerts, IMs, meeting requests, software updates, etc., etc. and you may start to feel the urge to reach for the Xanax. Or a hammer.

It’s cool that we are able to do SO many things at once now. It really is. I can today—sitting in the Eastern Standard Time Zone—work simultaneously on a project with someone on the Pacific coast. I can grab the laptop to attend a meeting or escape to anywhere where there is wireless internet and access network files from the office.

But with all of the good that it brings, I can’t help but wonder: What harm is it doing? Are our brains going in so many different directions that no ONE thing gets the full attention that it deserves? Are we multitasking so often that we are going to forget how to sit still for as long as it takes to see ONE thing through to completion? Or is everything destined to be divided and done in pixel parts from here to eternity? Because obviously the virtual world is not only here to stay… but to go… with US anywhere we wish to take it.

I don’t know about you, but my personal time has become severely fractured too. I no longer just watch TV or eat dinner or have a conversation or look at Facebook or write. In a typical evening I might do all of the above at once. If I have a favorite show, I might push everything else to the side… laundry, dishes, conversation… to block off that 30 minutes or an hour to “relax and focus” on the entertaining dialog between some beloved characters, only to discover that I can’t keep my hands off my iPhone.

I used to only pick it up at commercials to play a game, return an email or troll Facebook for juicy gossip. But I’ve noticed that increasingly so, I am fiddling with it during the very show that I once tried so religiously to protect. I cannot stop multitasking. Last night I must have gotten OUT of bed six times (I am not kidding) to do something just because it “occurred to me” to do so. Well, that, and I feared I might forget. That is a real fear now. That I’ll forget.

Gee, I wonder why the risk of forgetfulness is so much higher now. We all like to joke around and attribute it to aging… but I myself, think the more likely culprit is a divided mind. After sliding back INTO bed for the sixth time, I finally told myself to JUST STOP. Crawl under the covers and STAY there. Do not pick up the phone. Do not surf the channels. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just freaking SLEEP! OK!?! That is at least ONE time when I am doing only ONE thing at a time.

Putting a Pin In It

Recently I have become aware of a new phrase that has crept into our popular culture and me—being the words-person that I am—am intrigued by it. The phrase I am referring to is: “Let’s put a pin in it!” Basically defined it means: Let’s plan on doing <insert the name of said activity/task/chore/meeting here> at SOME point in time… just not THIS particular point in time.

I have not personally used the phrase but have observed it being used on at least three different TV shows this season. I’m not sure where it started or how long it has been around… yet I cannot help but wonder with all of the interest circling a little thing called Pinterest these days… Is there a connection?

I was introduced to Pinterest by a blog called Becoming Cliche. She was beginning to examine the social networking and idea-sharing site and discussing Pinterest’s false exclusivity and how she wanted so badly to be a member, that is, until they accepted her as a member. You see, everyone eventually gets to be a member, whether you are invited to join by another member or you shamelessly solicit membership directly FROM the site itself.

Anyway, I managed to stay away from this addicting site, that is, until a friend invited me to join since I would be doing some redecorating in the near future. It was then that I realized how many of my friends were already on it and how active they all were in generating these virtual bulletin boards bursting with fun, fresh ideas from fashion, decorating and design to books, movies and basic car repair.

The trouble is, I’ve been too busy with my move to actually get into creating my OWN board and it is making me feel like a super, cyber slacker. Everyday I see my inbox grow with messages that another friend and another friend and another friend are now following me on Pinterest. Maybe no one actually cares. Maybe no one actually LOOKS at my blank corkboard made of pixels. But the perfectionist and “joiner” in me causes me to imagine the deep disappointment of my friends when they visit me and find… Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. And zilch.

So for now… with regard to my activity on Pinterest, or lack thereof… I guess I’d just like to say to my fellow friends and Pinsters out there… Let’s just put a pin in it. At least until I actually take the time to figure out how the hell to use it.

10 Signs You Might Be Spending Too Much Time on Facebook

Are your family and friends using words like “intervention” or “excessive” or threatening to take your computer or smartphone away? Have you begun to neglect daily functions like bathing, eating and caring for your schoolwork, work/work, friends or family? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions… You MIGHT be spending too much time on Facebook…

1. You feel the need to update your status when you wake up, again after going to the bathroom, again after eating breakfast, on your phone while you drive to work, from your office or cube once you’ve arrived at work… etc. etc. etc.

2. You start each new sentence with the words: “I saw on Facebook that…”

3. Friends and family are FORCED to join FB just to know what’s going on with you.

4. Dinnertime conversation is pointless because your children-husband-wife-girlfriend-boyfriend-siblings and parents are now on FB and already know the minutia of the events of your entire day.

5. If away from your computer/phone for any length of time you feel compelled to run up to random people on the street and shout your status at them.

6. Dishes and laundry are piling up, your filthy kids are screaming to be fed, the dog has officially started using the living room rug for his personal toilet, you haven’t showered yet and it is almost time for dinner.

7. You have so many FB friends that you see someone on the street who looks kind of familiar… and you aren’t sure… but you think maaaaybe they are on your friend list???

8. Strangers approach you in Wal-Mart and ask how your colonoscopy went.

9. You feel led to post the pictures OF your colon as soon as you can scan them in.

10. IDK… U R 2 tired from FB-ing all nite 2 C 2 txt! LOL! OMG! Now LMAO! BTW… WTF? TTYL …

If U understood the above sentence, U R definitely spending 2 much time on FB!

TMI… Or, A Tribute to the Over-Sharer

C’mon, admit it… you have one of those friends/co-workers/relatives that is constantly guilty of the infamous “Over-Share.” It’s too much information and you know it. We all have one or two or more… depending on whether or not you’re attracted to drama. Perhaps YOU are the Over-Sharer. Perhaps I am the Over-Sharer in some of my friends’ lives because I write so much…

Whoever it is, and whatever the case may be, there is one thing that has made life VERY interesting for the Over-Sharer, or the Friend-Of-The-Over-Sharer. It is this new-fangled convention we all can’t seem to live without called Facebook.

I would like to take a minute (or two) to share a few of the ways that I have observed people offering TMI on FB.

NOT KNOWING THE PROPER WHEN AND WHERE: Whether they mean to or not, they use the WALL for private invitations, downright rude or offensive opinions, love notes (at times, fairly detailed love notes… see next point) rather than the private chat or messaging features that FB has to offer.

GET A (CHAT) ROOM: Similar to the first one, this one is, however MUCH MORE SEVERE. This may be TMI on my part, but I think I may have already “witnessed”… how shall I put this delicately?… uhh… well… cyber-sex between a FB friend and someone else… I wanted so badly to interrupt their cyber-love-making with a “Get A (Chat) Room!!” comment but—since it would not have been anonymous—I didn’t have the nerve. Fortunately, someone else did… and it stopped… sort of.

SCIZOPHRENIC RELATIONSHIP-STATUS CHANGE: Let us now discuss the phenomenon that is CONSTANT (and maybe even a wee-bit compulsive) “Relationship Status” change. We all know people whose personal lives are a little, shall we say, colorful? Or perhaps you know someone whose love life is a downright train-wreck. It goes a little something like this: Cindy-Sue is in a relationship. The next day: Cindy-Sue is now single. The following morning: Cindy-Sue is in a Serious Relationship. 2 days later: Cindy-Sue is now engaged. 24 hours later: Cindy-Sue is now married. 1 week later: Cindy Sue is now single. 48 hours later: Cindy Sue is in an Open Relationship. The next morning: Cindy-Sue is now at the police station, filing a restraining order. I think you get the idea, and my apologies to anyone out there who may coincidentally be named Cindy-Sue.

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRINK AND POST: This one really needs no embellishment. It is pretty self-explanatory. But can I provide a little helpful suggestion? If you or your friends are still under the influence of Jack, Johnny, Jim or Jose, you miiiiight not want to post those pictures until you’ve slept it off. The “OMG-this-is-soooooooo-freakin-hilarious” photo you took in the bathroom at the bar the night before, might not be quite as funny to you (or your friends… or your mom… or your boss) in the morning light.

So here’s to all of the “Over-Sharers” out there. Thanks to them and Facebook… life is never dull and always full of surprises. And even if I claim to occasionally become annoyed with TMI… well, it’s kind of like an accident by the side of the road… I may talk about how awful it is, but then again, I just can’t seem to look away.