A Digital New Year’s Resolution: Wear the Web Like a Loose Garment

| January 6, 2013 | 2 Comments

St Francis © Saint Mary’s Press

“Wear the world like a loose garment,” is a wise bit of advice, credited to St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). Essentially he taught that we should try to be in the world without becoming overly dependent on it for our sense of self. This is my 2013 New Year’s ‘thought to chew on’ … since I don’t really believe in resolutions – way too much pressure. Instead I try to start the year with a fresh perspective. And wearing the web in particular, more like a loose garment, might be the best advice to start off another year of blogging.

There are a lot of wonderful qualities about being in the web’s many environments. Websites can answer questions even before we’ve fully formed them, provide diverse entertainment and even connect us to people we might never meet in person. But too much time online can also feel overwhelming, distracting and disappointing. The stifled feeling of wearing the web too closely to our true self is likely a bit different for everyone. It could be too many messages, or too few. For others it might be losing hours to a game or perhaps just the lack of focus that comes from skimming things online.

I remember getting my first email account, back in 1991, before anyone else I knew had one. It seems silly now, as I abandon overflowing email accounts every few years, but at the time I was dying to have someone send me an email. The account was set up as part of my work study job, so I had one friend on campus who worked in my office that I could correspond with regularly. Of course, our desks were next to each other. If I said something particularly funny in an email, I could hear her giggle not long after I pressed send. We could have just talked, but then again, we looked busy while essentially passing notes back and forth. Besides, doing anything on the computer felt hip and exciting, full of possibility … kind of like how riding in an airplane felt, in the twentieth century.

Even if you’re not a blogger, most of us are on computers and essentially ‘online’ for hours every day. It isn’t hip or sexy. In fact, it is often for work, although the lines blur even in a regular office job. Over time, we begin to have an online persona, in addition to our physical, real-world persona. Our online doppelgänger may engage in conversations on social media, post online reviews, share articles or just ‘like’ things. It may not seem like much, but it can add up to be a lot of a person’s daily social interactions. Those interactions can shape how we feel about ourselves, our place in society and our worldview. Having perspective means remembering that these online experiences are amplified and distorted versions of everyone and every topic. Some of the time the reflection is relatively accurate, but much of the time it’s more like a funhouse mirror.

For much of 2012, I struggled with different ways to get off the ‘hamster wheel’ of promotion of my new website projects that review and promote kids apps online. At times these sites have made me feel like Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. “Feed Me,” says the website … day and night. And soon you are cutting into your skin to give the project your lifeblood. It’s barely an analogy, as many bloggers who have become exhausted by the industry will attest! Between this blog, my review site and a daily deals site for kids apps, I stay pretty busy … but how busy is essentially up to me. It sounds ideal, but it’s hard to know how much work is ever ‘enough’. The promotion feels like it could be endless and takes me into a lot of online spaces, especially social media sites and forums. So, in order to wear the web a bit looser this year, you may see a little bit less of me online. I’m hoping the breathing room will give me more space and time to write.

Category: Our House

About the Author ()

Carisa Kluver is the the editor of Digital-Storytime.com, an iPad children's book review site. She has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MSW from the University of Washington. Before starting this project, she was a school counselor, health educator and researcher in child & maternal health.