Interesting moments connect us, sometimes. A number of years ago I would speak to colleagues about the importance of sharing seemingly trivial moments, when I was advocating the uptake of social media in a big corporation. Those small moments help us to foster familiarity. New connections can lead to collaboration. And in a supported environment, this in turn can drive innovation and creativity.
You might think this is still true, and so do I. Though I wonder, has the sharing of so much interesting stuff shifted our focus too far away from the remarkable? Every noticed what you read and view these days? Interesting, interesting, interesting and…um, interesting!
My decision to step back from interesting things
This January I spent a few weeks relaxing and awaaaaay from my laptop. I checked my phone less. And I found my thoughts again. Was it because I was spending less time on social media? If so, I was determined to think of a way to manage my time in 2014 in a more decisive, benchmarked way.
Sure, I could just turn it all off. But I don’t think that will be helpful. And it’s not like I’m spending a LOT of time online. I just needed a way to keep focused, as I noticed friends trading vast amount of interesting moments and forgetting them just as quickly. So I came to the conclusion to approach my use of the internet in general, including social media, in the same way I approach a supermarket experience. (Yes, I know. But please indulge me and stay with my thinking a moment…)
It’s like shopping at a mega supermarket filled with all the “nice to have but totally disposable and really don’t need it” things. Unless you have a mindset of keeping your life simple, investing in quality and working towards your dreams and bucket list items, you will buy ALL the things!
For instance, I’ve been catching myself in those “hmm, interesting” moments and choosing to hold back before snapping a photo. Instead I pause and consider just how fascinating that moment. is. It’s like keeping a little secret all to yourself, at times. If it turns out to be something I want to consider some more, THEN I share it. Sure, not all of my photos or tweets or things I ‘like’ have been remarkable this year. But I’m making an effort to make them enjoyable and memorable for me.
When I take a photo of the places I go, the things I see, and especially the activities my kids join in, I want to take them for us, our family – not for the internet. I want to build relationships, not popularity. It’s easy to share ‘interesting’ or to take a photo ‘for my friends’. But do the images we take have any meaning to us?
Wonderwebby’s 2014 motto for meaningful interaction online.
When consuming content…
Am I reading/liking/sharing this because it’s really remarkable? Or is it just interesting
When creating content…
Am I sharing this because it has meaning for me? (remarkable.) Or am I doing this ‘for the internet‘” (interesting)
There’s nothing wrong with interesting things, but we can make them sparkle
Yes, there’s a good chance I’ll still be sharing interesting moments. It’s important to find wonder in the simple things. Interesting is always going to be there binding busy moments together and providing light relief on intense days. But I’m hoping that I will write, print and post some of those interesting moments to friends and family, so that they sparkle a little, instead of sharing them all on Facebook.
The outcome of resting in remarkable
This year, I want to create. To make. To read. To observe. To invest in my family. To do my job well.
It might not seem like anything significant, but by focusing less on interesting and more on remarkable, I’ve really been able to hone in more on creativity this year. Between my husband’s long hours, working on multiple projects while my three busy boys are at school and then trying to help them with homework and sports before making dinner and getting them to bed…before *ding ding* round 2 of folding clothes or simply crashing on the couch.. there’s not much time for me or my creativity. I’m sure it’s a scenario many relate to, whether you have kids or cats or commitments of any preious variety.
So how has my shift of focus given me more rest and creative freedom?
I’m not striving.
Striving is exhausting. We strive when we work on things that don’t ultimately have significance for us. By blinkering out ‘interesting’ things to share, I’ve found a whole new level of calm and focus.
I’m enjoying what I read
It’s not that I don’t enjoy your status updates. But instead I read a few books including:
Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (finally read it. Clever, interesting characters, read it when we got home from fireworks on NYE til 1.30am just so I could get to the end and find out what happened!)
Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane (readable, enjoyable, storytelling novelty amid a sorrowful setting)
Tim Winton’s Eeyrie (frustrating, immersive, disturbing, insightful, impressive, angsty, still in my thoughts.)
I’m struggling a little to read M.L. Stedman’s The Light between Oceans as I’m not sure I like her writing style, but I’ll keep giving it a go.
I’m enjoying what I watch
Once the kids started school for the year I took myself to the movies to see The Book Thief (beautiful, emotive, lovely, not uh-maaay-zing but still worthwhile) even if it meant I had to stay up later that evening to catch up on things at home.
This week I watched Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (skillful, playful, almost poetic and a delightful performance by Greta Gerwig) and I watched it at home on a WEEKDAY before MIDDAY with the sound turned UP which felt really indulgent, but hey, give a working mum a break ;-)
I’ve been taking photos less often – but I’ve enjoyed taking photos more.
because I hold back and consider the moment first –Is it remarkable, to me?
I’m focusing on moments exactly as I want to remember them.
(Pup and Son, and sunset)
The woman who gathered her umbrella, chair and book
and sat with her feet dipped in cool waters.
I’m making art again
I’m working on some ideas for words and pictures, at least in outline stage for now. But I plan to turn them into something. You know that feeling, when you’re inspired to write stories?
Still, life goes on…
Life continues to be busy, interesting and remarkable with family, work, commitments and important friendships. I still have days when I’m tired and dip my toes into the restlessness of meaningless banter. Overall, I’m happier to be using my “systematic supermarket approach” to neglect interesting things and rest amongst the rare and remarkable instead.
How about you? Do you have a benchmark for your engagement on the web? Or have you cancelled your social accounts altogether?