This morning on the tube, a woman with a bad spray tan and an even worse attitude took umbrage at my presence behind her in the packed tube carriage and began jabbing me – hard – in the back with her bony elbow. Tempted as I was to rise to this provocation, I instead plastered a serene smile on my face and went back to my Kindle. Life is stressful enough without letting complete strangers on the daily commute take further toll on the mood.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m mentally preparing myself for going ‘offline’ on Sunday, or because my stress levels are sky high due to the pressure of organising a fundraiser for a hundred people tomorrow night (or maybe both), but I’m actually looking forward to switching off, physically and metaphorically, for a few weeks. As well as being interested in what effect this online hiatus will have on me, I can’t wait to create some quiet space to relax, to write and to dream.
Because lately I’ve felt my old adversary anxiety begin to rear his ugly head. And I know from past experience the only way to elbow him off the bus of my subconscious is to take a step back from life, see the bigger picture and realise that most of the minutiae of daily life (Facebook statuses and tweets included) simply does not matter. My world will go on turning without social media. It’s just a shame I can’t turn off aggressive people on crowded tube carriages for a month too…
This Sunday I will be embarking upon a 26.2 day sponsored social media silence*, as part of my Rome Marathon fundraising effort (for which you can sponsor me here, should you so desire). Those of you who know me will know that the social media element of this challenge is arguably going to be harder for me to endure than the marathon itself. It’s no secret (how could it be?) that I’m rather fond of Facebooking and prone to the occasional tweet and Instagram photo opportunity. Indeed it could reasonably be posited that I’m one of those annoying people who live out their lives in the public domain, as if my life offline would simply not be worth living. Well, I’m about to find out if that’s the case.
Whilst every passing second bringing me closer to the moment I go offline is raising my blood pressure and anxiety levels, I am also intrigued and even a tad excited to see how I fare without the crutch of online interaction upon which I have come to rely. Will I, for example, see a sharp increase in creative thinking and productivity that will lead to my writing my very own Magnum Opus? Or will I (more likely) end up rocking in the corner by the end of day one, repeating 140 character tweets to myself on a loop and driving myself mad because there is NOBODY TO SHARE THEM WITH? One thing I’m sure of is that I’ll quickly feel annoyed by everyone around me who is engrossed in their smartphone, just as when I gave up smoking I found being in the company of smokers intolerable. So that will be fun for my boyfriend, friends and colleagues (and will, quite frankly, serve the bastards right for forcing me to do this in the first place).
To surmise: There may be tears. There may be withdrawal. There may be shattered relationships. But by God will there be some good writing material**
*which means no engagement with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or this blog (waaaah)
**either that or (most likely) some dangerous new TV series addictions
It’s quarter past eight in the evening. Outside the wind is raging almost as much as the commuters who were forced to endure today’s tube strike, and will have to do the same tomorrow. Only tomorrow’s nightmare commute will be wet as well as windy, for the weather reports speak of more torrential rain and flooding on the way. It is February. It is cold. We Brits are not, it must be said, at our best under these conditions. And yet we know them all too well.
I’m sitting in a state of panic-induced inertia; surrounded by ‘to do’ lists with a thousand thoughts careering around my head, like rockets let off by mistake at a fireworks display. In this state it’s hard to think in a rational way; what to do first, where to start. So tonight I’ve taken a new approach and lit a candle. Apple pie scented. As I type this I’m watching it burn, the wax becoming molten, like lava: My own Vesuvius. But when will it erupt?
Life is like a Sudoku puzzle; you reach a point when you think you’ve got it sussed, and then you realise that you haven’t and have to start all over again. So many questions, yet so few answers. So many options, yet so little time. I sometimes wonder if the God in whom I place my faith of there being an afterlife is watching us from Heaven and laughing at the tangles that we get ourselves into, weaving thread upon thread into impenetrable webs; fortresses of our own making.
My hands are cold.
Still, the candle burns.