What Is Normal? (My Way of Announcing Blogging Time-Out)

I remember the best Out-of-Office note I have ever received – musing on not being able to get back to me as quick as normally, and culminating in the philosophical question:

But – what is normal?

Probably this is one of the hidden, leading questions that have driven this blog ever since I started it in March 2012. Is it normal to blog regularly? Is it normal to have ideas on a regular basis? Is it normal to follow more and more virtual conversations – not only on WordPress but on other social networks as well?

Nassim Taleb’s books have reminded me reminded of antifragility being grounded in burst-like patterns. At least this is the way I would summarize it. A mundane example is the alleged positive effect of irregular physical training – such as long walks alternating with extreme workouts – both unscheduled.

I would like to continue ridiculing those home-story-style articles about famous persons (One day in the life of…) who manage their lives in such a swift way and who are able to add utmost regularity to the universe’s imponderables. Who get up at 4:00 to mediate in their Zen-like garden, take the first important business decision at 5:00 – such as acquiring a hot tech start-up in passing – by firing off an e-mail on your smart phone, drive their kids to school at 7:00 while having a conf call with your VPs … etc.

Thus I would embark on an experiment I have pondered about for a long time – I owe to these two posts(*) that finally make me pull the trigger. Pull the trigger… what a metaphor. NSA, did you hear that? And I go into hiding. A non-blogging sleeper cell.
(*)Interesting though: In the future of this post, both of these blogs are offline)

I will unplug myself from social media in the next 2 – 4 months. (This is an estimate in terms of order of magnitude – 100 months)

Don’t panic.

I won’t disappear, I will follow-up on your blogs – but most likely more randomly than I did in the last months, and I will respond to comments.

I will resort to something like a monthly update – as I can’t bear a number of zero posts per months in the blog’s archive. WordPress is still my favorite network.  Probably I will appear more radical as a Facebook, Google+ or Twitter user, as a monthly tweet is like not tweeting at all. I have been on these networks now for less than a year and after intense participation. In contrast to other social media users with erratic posting habits I will rather leave an OOF message and clean-up.

Facebook users: I have deactivated posts to my timeline, and tightened the who-can-see-what settings despite or because my birthday is looming. I need to retain some level of integrity when ranting about liking and sharing confessional automata.

There is no particular earth-shattering reason for that – or this is exactly a reason in its own right: I want to challenge myself by unplugging, by reducing input. In a weird sense I am reconnecting with my very first post about my social media denial.

I will even reduce my frequency of devouring books – sorry for that, Amazon.com – or probably I don’t want the NSA follow-up on my Kindle collections.

I am moderately busy, I have some other deadlines, but nothing that couldn’t be handled, and I could of course come up with some posts in the way the social media experts recommend: Recycling content, old posts – and I should have kept some articles in my stores of things to be posted when I have run out of ideas. But I even haven’t run out of ideas.

Since this might be the front post of this blog for some weeks, I would like to add self-serving links to related posts that I do not recycle now.

After a break I am rather sure I will continue to write about:

My most recent posts have told me something weird and I need to think about that:

Probably I over-emphasize aspects and arguments for the sake of those arguments. I am not at all that concerned with the Evil or Corporate or the Devastating Effect of Gamification, for example. Actually, in the moment I could not care less about these in real live. It is rather my blogging avatar who has seized opportunities. This avatar is adding a filter that enhances contrast, for the sake of entertainment, or for the sake of making an argument. Any hyperbole and sarcasm comes in handy.

Nevertheless, it does not feel like dishonesty though.

And this is not at all meant self-critical – I like these posts more than my balanced ones.

I just need to think about that, and by thinking I mean the thing that goes on in your unplugged brain when you are not talking or writing. Probably exactly when you force yourself not to talk or write.

You get ideas from writing and interacting with others, but in the other hand there is a chance of getting trapped in a social media bubble of like-minded people. Finally it is a matter of available time – I admit I would not read blogs I strongly disagree with.

I feel the last sentence in this post should be sticky and remarkable – and exactly because of that I will not add a final statement at all.

I have stumbled upon these in the garden recently. I am convinced the universe wanted to tell me something, and I will decode it.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. bert0001 says:

    I have an island of time today and the past 4 days.
    I will see whether I can keep up again with 2 posts a week or not :-)
    (Besides, your last line is a statement as stateful as any other – but I’m sure that’s exactly what you wanted to do)

    1. elkement says:

      Currently I “plan” for a monthly update (probably 2 posts per month) until September – I enjoy the silence. I really consider this an experiment.

  2. rcs says:

    Social media is not the evil, it is the signal to noise ratio; the people still matter. Unfortunately you have to follow a lot of frogs before you find the princes and princesses. The harlem shake or the grumpy cat make no ripples in the timeline, and the universe will not be any lesser a place without them in your life. However the mischievous gleam in the eyes and hearts of the special ones are things I look forward to and enjoy. I will miss you, and hope our paths cross again

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks for commenting – it is always interesting to see previously disconnected conversations intersect!
      I don’t consider social media evil, there was no particular event or negative experience. My social media (any network) experiences so far are very positive.
      I just have noticed – again – that I need to agree with Nicholas Carr’s theses in his book The Shallows. I thought I can balance it all but I really feel my capabilities of deep, concentrated reading are negatively impacted by spending too much time / too much creativity or energy on networks that demand skimming diverse content, ad hoc replies etc.
      Probably the solution is as simple as reducing my engagement on those networks that I consider most detrimental. Currently I would say these are Twitter and Facebook. WordPress is my favorite network, and I prefer Google+ to Twitter and Facebook.

    2. elkement says:

      (I have deleted the duplicate comment)

  3. David Yerle says:

    You’ll be missed! It seems like a good idea though. I probably could use some time off myself and will do this next month, but in my case it will be just because I won’t have time. I especially liked what you said about discussing topics you don’t really care that much about, like gamification. I think this happens to me too: there’s a moment when you just get sucked into the debate and you end up making a big deal of ideas that really don’t keep you awake at night, whereas your everyday worries are buried under your Internet persona. I’ll have to think about this…

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, David! It’s interesting that you picked that statement of mine (writing about “unimportant” things).
      I have not made my mind up – but I think it is related to my non-decision on “writing (something like – in a very broad sense) a science blog” or “participating in a literary experiment”. Or if it is my authentic self writing here or some writing avatar. Probably it was a wise decision of yours to go for a fictional Alter Ego.

  4. I usually post when I feel like it, and my feelings are, if anything, erratic. Currently, you could say I am a pissed poster; whenever I am pissed off really badly about something, I post about it. That’s not because I am often pissed off about stuff. I digress; that probably warrants a post of its own. Anyway, when I began blogging for real last summer (yes, soon it’s going to be a whole year of WordPress for me), there was a long, strong burst, and now, it is rather sporadic. I, too need to gather and form ideas and opinions to write about.

    1. elkement says:

      Yes, “burst” is the best notion for describing it. I believe it is the natural way of blogging – no matter what the so-called experts say about establishing regular blogging habits in order not to disappoint your readers. I think it works as follows – at least this is how I experiences any of my online writing bursts (incl. my first blogging burst related to home-grown web pages that weren’t blogs in a technical sense):
      You have a lot of ideas in your mind, some of them related to things you have mulled about for years. Then you start penning them. You get feedback and new, related ideas and refine yours. But at some point of time – probably related to the simple fact of having limited time for writing and thinking (in contrast to doing and experiencing) you start feeling “obliged” to write or post on a regular basis and you are tempted to “actively search” for content. This is probably how a real journalist feels when he/she is going to churn out something creative or original or new every X days according to a publication schedule defined by others. I think I feel a bit like that now.
      In addition I can confirm the theories described in Carr’s book The Shallows. I feel the effects of spending too much time on distracting social media – such as Twitter and Facebook – do have a negative impact on my capabilities of deep reading.

  5. danielmullin81 says:

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines, it being summer and all. My pace on the blog will probably slow down too. Enjoy your break!

    1. elkement says:

      Ha – I am part of a movement again, or I am clichéd as usual – part of the mainstream ;-) We allegedly modern, leading-edge bloggers have something in common with ancient agricultural societies – we live in line with nature and seasons! Enjoy your blogging break – and new ventures, too!

  6. M. Hatzel says:

    When I finish reading Taleb I’ll flag your attention with a post. ;) Have a great break, and as I said back on my blog, I look forward to hearing your updates. Congratulations, too, on the influx of work and finding a diversity of experiences. Have a great summer, Elke!

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks again, Michelle! I am looking forward to non-regular updates during my break. Having read The Shallows again I think my brain just needs a quite period of re-structuring!

  7. Be empty. It will fill you.

    1. elkement says:

      Very Zen – thanks! I have now spent two days “away” from social media (in particular, the most distracting and scattered things – as scrolling through Facebook messages) – and I feel better in a sense. I have re-read “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr and agree to most of his theories.

  8. Hi there, Elkement! Just as I read your final sentence, thinking it was courageous of you not to go for ‘sticky and remarkable’, my computer informed me that you ‘liked’ my most recent article.
    Thank you for that! I’m happy to see that your time-out doesn’t mean that you won’t be around at all! :-)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks! I really need to explore this empty space now! “Do I exist if I am not blogging (that frequently)?” ;-)

  9. I wish you well on your sabbatical. I hope you also know I’ll be looking forward to your return. You’re, by far, my favourite source of divergent thinking.
    Oh, and by the way, happy birthday for whenever it happens :>)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Maurice … “Divergent thinking” – what a great label – I take it as a badge of honor!

      As a courtesy to other readers I need to link to your most recent remarkable post:

      1. “Subversive” never did you justice–your stuff is so much more than that :>)

        1. elkement says:

          Of course I hope that this post of mine will start a viral movement of social media deniers – making Facebook’s and Google’s stock prices tumble and disrupt economy as we know it. Just as the proverbial flap of the butterfly’s wing. That would be really subversive!!

          1. It would but I’ve noticed it’s already underway. I’m easing back, as are you, and I have noticed that some of the other bloggers I follow are too. Twitter has really eased back…not a whole lot of interesting stuff there either. Perhaps it’s just that it’s summer and it’s time to get out and do the things you described in your post.

            1. elkement says:

              Yes – it is really interesting to see that other bloggers think along similar lines. As I said to Dan – we bloggers are like ancient farmers, we respect nature and seasons. Summer is the time to blog less – and live more :-)

  10. More power to you Elke. Time off is time well spent. You will return from your Zen Garden refreshed and enlightened. D

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Dave :-) I will visit your virtual Zen Farm though in the meantime!

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