"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Life Unplugged....

Are you plugged in? Since you are taking the time to read my blog, you probably are one of the millions of people a day who spend way too may hours on your computer. You are aware of the posts on Facebook of all your friends and you feel proud of yourself for keeping up with so many friends from your past and present and those who are long distance. Your head is swimming with information, videos, nice quotes that seemingly edify your life and your social networking score would be an 8 out of 10. You might blog as I do and pass more information out to others throughout the day in hopes that you will edify their lives.

Here's the question... are we? Are we edifying our lives? Maybe... I hope so. I do think it's great that I can keep up with all my friends. I love that I can see pictures of them and if we want to connect closer we can call each other or skype. Social networking definitely has it's good points.

Here's my second question... are we helping our business? There's a good question. It's one that depends on your goal for the day, your business and your life.

Do you get paid to surf the net? Does it effect your bottom line in dollars? Does your Klout score give you more than kudos? Does keeping up on social trends bring you closer to the goal in your business?

Here's my take on it - yes and no. I think it's very important to keep yourself "out there" so that people know who you are and what you are doing. I think it's great to show your "human side" to others so they have an identity as part of your brand with which to know you and trust you. In a sense by social networking you are forging and maintaining a relationship with others. Getting your work and ideas out there can benefit your business greatly. However, if you spend too much time doing social networking, you might not have the time to attend and improve upon the core basics of your business.

Which brings me to my big fat no. If not put in check, time on the web can be an incredible time waster. Yes, it's fun but it poses a constant interruption into your work flow. Most of us need a chunk of time where we can be "unplugged" to dig deep into a project that will benefit our businesses. When we cave in to constant interruptions of phone calls, texts, email and Facebook responses, we take our mind off what we were doing. It is extremely difficult to get back into the deep thinking that we need to continue on with our project. Sometimes we get sidetracked and walk away and sometimes it will take us way longer to finish something than we need to.

And there is the question of quality of life and relationships. Yes, my relationships with my Facebook friends and other websites are very real. But they are VIRTUAL relationships. I speak with real people and have real conversations but at the end of the day, we aren't doing "real" things. We can't sit across the table from each other and have a meaningful connection. Instead we are sending little notes here and there in leu of a relationship. Texting someone back and forth, while it may be fun, doesn't satisfy the deep need that we all have for time and connection. It's a poor sacrifice for real relationships. I wonder if over time that will be most of all we have. After all, how many of us ignore the people in the room with us so that we can spend time on Facebook connecting with our friends. Granted we know small facts about them, how they are feeling about something (maybe) and that they are alive. We see pictures of their trips and their families. We see projects that they are working on... but are we really connecting with them on a personal level? It's not the same.

I'm not advocating to "give it all up". As an extravert, I think it's great to keep in touch with so many. Facebook has opened a whole new world for us. I'm just saying... keep it in check. Understand that you have a life outside of your virtual reality. When you are sitting with someone at the table, give them your full attention don't ignore them to check your news feed. When your spouse or child wants to talk with you about something, give them both eyes and both ears and more than 2 minutes time (I'm preaching to myself here people). I am guilty on all counts. I'm multi-tasking myself right into a frenzy lately. I read 5 website pages at one time, jumping back and forth to get as many done as I can at once, while listening to a youtube movie. Sometimes I even have the TV on in the background while I'm doing it!

So today, after I check my emails and Facebook page... I'm going to unplug for a while and work on my portfolio, website and submissions into competitions and grad school.  I'm going to focus on the people in the room and look them in the eye when I speak to them. I'm going to use hugs and touch to connect. It's called living life and it's good for the soul!

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