I’ve been listening to a podcast conversation between James Shelley and Patrick Rhone in which they discuss Patrick’s decision to go ”nonline” - defined as:
”No longer found on, made available to, or primarily accessed or contacted through the Internet.”
It doesn’t equate to offline, which implies someone has disconnected completely, just that they won’t be leaving physical traces, such as tweets or blog posts, or engaging in online conversations. A “read only mode” is the great way it’s described.
Patrick explains how he misses the early days of social when status updates meant status updates, they were about what you were doing, where you were - even the clichéd “what you had for lunch” posts.
The argument is that these, as boring or banal as they might seem, are an insight into you as a person and what’s going on in your life. Not retweets of what someone else is doing or saying.
Interestingly, journalling has taken over for him - the analog equivalent of these old status updates - and I can see the obvious extension from one to the other.
Patrick talks of the importance of looking back in order to reflect and remember, something we don’t do on social networks and rarely do, in any proper sense, on blogs.
I always refer to my blog as an ongoing conversation with myself so am often referencing old posts but usually as evidence to back up what I’m currently thinking.
Is that always the most constructive thing?
What I have been doing, however, is going back through the write365 project posts 1 on a regular basis to see what I was saying as they were often intensely personal and reflected my state of mind at the time.
And I think it all ties in with my struggle over pen and paper - not just what I’m writing but how.
While flicking through some of those old posts (they were all written offline and saved to Dropbox) I came across one called “Self portraits” in which I wrote that we...
”are telling our stories day by day here on social networks. The difference is most don't actually realise what we are doing or understand the potential significance of it...”
”We paint a self portrait over the course of months, years...”
”Our self portraits can only be judged on the paint we have used, the brush strokes and techniques employed, the settings we have placed ourselves in and, ultimately, whether we have signed our work. So, what story do we want to tell? What impression do we want to give?”
Listening to James and Patrick immediately connected, reaffirming the idea that a big problem online is that we are frequently telling the wrong stories.
We can tell the stories we think other people want to hear. We can tell skewed stories as we are often not truly honest with ourselves. We tell other people’s stories rather than our own, without comment, without opinion.
What use are the wrong stories and are we doing ourselves a disservice by telling them?
It’s something I’ve been conscious of for some time but only recently decided to really take proper action on.
I’m tired of telling the wrong story.
- The write365 project was my take on writing something, anything, every day for a year. I aimed for an average of 300 words but with no restrictions on what it was about. This was conducted on Google Plus so is no longer available online as I deleted my account. ↩