Lost in Wonderland (or Wasting Time on Pinterest)

I was not an early convert to Pinterest. Even when a friend helped me set it up, I dragged my feet. Messing around with it might be fun, but there were so many other things I needed to do. However, when we moved to a new house, I began to see why people like the app.

At first it was strictly business—a shopping tool and resource for household tips. Our new house needed shower curtains, porch furniture, light fixtures, and a stool for the kitchen counter. The app became a good place to save photos and links for furnishings that I wanted to show to my husband.

Next, I searched for advice on nontoxic ways to clean the shower. I was immediately bombarded with pins for shower cleaning tips along with photos of gross toilets that needed an intervention. I wanted to say, “Wait, no need! I’ve already know what to do about the shower, and God help me if my toilet ever looks like that!” But like most online apps, it’s programmed to show you more of whatever you searched for in the past.

The real magic happened when I followed a few friends. They like such cool stuff—who knew it even existed? ceramic sculptureI’d never have found such amazing ceramic sculptures or incredible fiber art if I hadn’t started following a sculptor friend and seeing her pins. That led to people across the world pinning my pins. Amazing.fiberart

My friends’ pins also led me to explore in a more playful way—not searching, just wandering in playland. That’s how I learned more about jadeite glass and how to grow fragrant lemon seedlings from lemon seeds . . . in case I ever want to.

Now Pinterest is my first stop for recipes, crafts, and garden ideas. I’m not a clever person who thinks up how to make Santa hat appetizers from strawberries and banana slices, but now I can impress my friends with that trick if I ever need to.

Messing around in the quilting and sewing pins gave me a zillion ideas for projects. And I never would have seen antique sewing scissors and sewing kits without Pinterest. antique sewing kit

This year, when I started planning my flowerpots for the patio, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration.flowerpot

What I’ve discovered is that at worst, Pinterest is harmless, but addicting, fun. I can collect eye candy and daydream (without obligation) about cool projects I might do. At best, it’s a good resource for inspiration.

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Disconnected and Discombobulated

I scoffed when I read about college students becoming anxious when separated from digital technology—email, Facebook, and other social media. Or rather, I believed they became anxious, but thought smugly, Glad I’m not hooked like they are.

Except that now I am.

Recently, I was camping at a state campground that didn’t have cell signal. At all. Although we were only about 30 miles from Rochester, Minnesota, we were in the land that time and technology forgot. At first I was delighted. No New York Times news flashes or Facebook posts reminding me of depressing political news. I wasn’t expecting any urgent emails.

Being disconnected felt a bit odd, but I knew my friends would understand if I didn’t respond to their texts or emails promptly.

Not having instant access to the weather app was OK. I didn’t really need to know exactly how cold it would get at night. 55 degrees or 50 degrees—what’s the difference? Either way, we’d have a fire and then burrow into our sleeping bags at bedtime.

But what if my 90-year-old mother-in-law had a health issue? Would my sons be able to track us down? If one of our sons got seriously ill, how would they contact us? Since they’re in their 20’s, that’s usually not a big concern, but one of them had had a significant health problem a few weeks ago, so the possibility seemed more real.

You see where all this was going—good ole free floating anxiety racheted up by lack of connectivity. Wow.

Several times I had to tell myself to knock it off. Everyone was fine. Despite knowing that, I still tried to fire up my phone when we visited the park office. No signal.

For years I’ve had the constant chatter: texts, email, and commentary from Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, so it took a while to get used to the sound of my own thoughts. Or no thoughts whatsoever.

At first I had to concentrate on being in the moment. Resist the urge to curate my experiences. Just live them. I noticed the lavender and white phlox blooming in the meadow we were hiking through, heard the wind in the trees and the creek murmuring behind our campsite, and squinted at the zillions of stars you can see out in the country.

I hate admitting that being disconnected made me anxious. But instant access has become too gratifying. The more I’ve gotten used to it, the more I want it. When I hear the ding of a new email or text hitting my phone, I’ve got to know who it’s from. It’s obsessive. As reinforcing as treats would be to Pavlov’s dogs.

Who's the text from? 15 emails?! OMG!

Who’s the text from? 15 emails?! OMG!

Technology is supposed to be a helpful tool, subservient to me, not my master. I don’t want to feel so controlled by it.

How did I get to be at the beck and call of this device? I let the lure of instant access get to me.

So I’ve decided to try disconnecting intentionally one day a week, as an experiment.

On those days, I’ll use my phone for calls, but otherwise avoid checking emails, weather apps, maps, Facebook, Snapchat, and the New York Times news feed. Fasting from email, apps, and social media will be hard—after all, the first thing I did after we packed up and drove away was check email. 56 of them had piled up in three days. Most of them weren’t that important, which reinforces my decision to go offline periodically.

It’s so easy to be caught up in the bizzyness of the internet and social media. I want to rediscover what else I can do with my time.

WordSisters Celebrates 2 Years!

Writing this blog has become second nature. Every other week, we mine our lives and distill our observations into posts. As writers by calling, we take pleasure in the discipline of writing, but connecting with you is even more rewarding.

I remain astonished by the power of the Internet to bring people together. Today, WordSisters has—

  • More than 500 followers
  • 6,100 views—it knocks me out to see that people from all over the globe—South Africa, Poland, and even Kazakhstan—are checking out our blog.
The darker the color, the more views that originate from that country.

More views originate from the countries that have darker colors.

We’re delighted by the bloggers we’ve met (The Artist’s Road, Boomer Connection, Eliza Waters, Autism Fractal, Mary Carroll Moore, and so many more) and the friendships we’ve cemented.

Thank you to our many faithful readers! Your comments and Likes keep us going.

 

How I’m Overcoming my Resistance to Social Media—One Writer’s Insights

As a writer, I am constantly torn between writing (which I actively enjoy) and marketing via social media (which inspires considerably less enthusiasm). Yet, if I want to discover more people who are interested in this blog and who might want to read my memoir one day, I need to make friends with strangers. Social media helps me do that. But what’s the right mix of social media activities? How do I keep up with my current friends while meeting new ones?

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 10.20.25 AM

By nature I’m a social person. I visit with a number of people—phone calls, lunches, dinners, book group, writers’ group. I enjoy our in-depth interactions immensely. I like the time spent on half-hour phone calls, two-hour meals, and conversations about books or writing. But the high-quality visits leave me with less time for social media.

I know I should find more time to post on Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, or learning some new app—but when? As a reality check, I made a list of all the stuff I try to do every week. I impressed myself. Wow! I am busy. But so are a lot of people, yet they make time for social media. Certainly I can squeeze in a few more hours per week.

Unfortunately, social media moves fast and needs daily or even hourly attention. Since I check Facebook only twice a week, Facebook assumes I don’t care enough, so these days, I only get updates about five people.

Pinterest holds no interest and I’m way behind on Goodreads.

Although I keep up with LinkedIn, until now, I’ve reserved that channel for the other side of my writing career—marketing communications.

Performance anxiety has kept me from Twitter. Even though I write for a living, headlines and short text aren’t my strong suits. I write l o o o n n g text. How will I ever manage being clever and interesting in 140 characters?!? I am somewhat encouraged to discover that Joyce Carol Oates, who’s the epitome of a busy prolific writer, was also a reluctant tweeter.

I’m glad to engage acquaintances intellectually. I’ve got a ton of opinions about politics, books, and life in general. I like learning new things and exchanging ideas—maybe that’s the key. Perhaps I need to think of Twitter as a playground of ideas, commentary, and 140-character conversations.

After reviewing this inventory, I realize that like Dan Blank (a great resource for writers) maybe I need to focus—let go of a few social media options (Facebook, Pinterest) and concentrate more on others—start Twitter, give Goodreads another try, and introduce my business friends to my blog via LinkedIn.

Please share your insights about social media—what do you like to do and why? What works for you?