Disconnect to Reconnect

Welcome to my social experiment. I’m about to unplug. I’m going to put my Facebook page on hibernation mode. (!!!!!)  Is it a bad sign when your gut reaction is to broadcast that very news via a status update? This is ridiculous! Stepping away from Facebook for a few weeks is not supposed to feel like an Epic, life-altering event.
Over the next few weeks my only connection to the online community will be via this blog as I chronicle my journey of disconnecting from social media.  Now, you are probably saying, “Andrea, you are using your blog! That is totally cheating!” Contradictory, well… kind of. (Spoken like a true addict). However, the point of this experiment is to step away from the minute-by-minute, play-by-play newsfeed of our daily lives. I want to reconnect with you off-line.  More on that… later. For now, the blog will simply hold me accountable. (Again, like an addict).
So. What’s this all about?
I was inspired by my latest project, The Vagina Monologues. I could go on and on about all of the warm & fuzzy feelings that manifested as a result of the show. (Or you could read about it, here). The most unexpected part of the experience was undoubtably the unyielding bond that was formed within the cast/crew. Keep in mind, this was a cast/crew of 19 strong-willed women.  Let me repeat that: 19 strong-willed women working together. I prepped myself for the worst. As I spoke to my colleagues about my undertaking, I can’t tell you how many times I got a sympathetic look as they patted me on the shoulder and sighed, “Good luck, that is a LOT of estrogen!”
Well, as the rehearsal process unfolded I quickly realized that all of my concerns were futile. We surprised ourselves to discover that there was not ONE ounce of cattiness or bitchiness throughout the entire process!  How could it be? Where were the diva attitudes? Where were the cliques? What happened to the emotional outbursts, snarky comments  and sideways glares? Gone. Well– not gone. They never showed up.
What did show up? Pure unfiltered love and support. A sisterhood and a community was formed from day one. As I talked to the women about their experiences in the creation of the project, it became abundantly clear that these women relished in the fact that this project provided them with a much needed “real life” community. Rehearsals gave us a place to come together, talk, LISTEN and be heard. We were able to validate our experiences and realize that we are not alone when it comes to many of the issues that we face everyday as modern women.
Rehearsal for The Vagina Monologues, May 2011
In a city filled with millions of people, it’s not uncommon to feel somewhat isolated from the world. It’s easy to get lost in the rat-race and become completely absorbed with the trivialities of everyday life. What was even more clear was the evidence that Facebook and other social media outlets created a false sense of community online. Pseudo Contact. A community that wasn’t transferring into the real world. At any point in time you can sign-on to Facebook and immediately feel connected to 500 of your ‘closest buddies’, but how many of those connections are genuine?
Information overload has paved the way for lazy friendships. (Please excuse the sweeping generalities). Writing “Happy Birthday” on a Facebook wall has replaced sending birthday cards. We don’t need to call a friend to see what they’ve been up to: we can visit their page,  ‘like’ their pictures and comment on their status updates. It’s a way to always feel connected, yet there is certainly a level of disconnect that results as a byproduct. There is a loss of actual face-time.
Not to mention the time wasted! How much time is spent on Facebook? I personally feel as though I abuse the system. From my talks with some of the cast members, it was not uncommon to hear guilty admissions of Facebook addiction! What would happen if we spent all of that time actually engaging with our ‘off-line’ network? Nourishing ourselves by fostering these relationships face-to-face.  What happens when we disconnect? Is there a chance that we can reconnect? A challenge was born.
Over the next few weeks I am going to challenge myself to temporarily  disconnect from Facebook and Twitter. I’ll journal about my adventure and hopefully some inspiring art will come out of the experiment. My experience with The Vagina Monologues was a testament to the power of women working together for a good cause. Theatre was the perfect vehicle. They empowered each other; volunteered their time; formed new friendships; created meaningful art; raised awareness and gave back to the community. They inspired me every day and I’m anxious to discover what will happen in my attempt to disconnect, in order to reconnect.
Social Networking. Connectivity. Real life. 24 hours until I unplug…..
Stay tuned.