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overwhelmed: how to NOT survive the internet and a blogger’s confessions

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I have a confession. I’m overwhelmed. I can barely look at pinterest anymore. I pin my own stuff, I hop on to look at the recipes I want to try, and then I hop off as fast as I can. Same with the rest of the e-world. Whenever I see a brilliant idea, an interesting article, a quiz I have to take (what ’80s fashion accessory am I? I have to know), a promise to solve my shoe clutter problem, cupcakes that are just too cute, summer fun for kids ideas… anxiety takes over and I panic about how I can do it all, and yet I also panic about what I’m still missing.

 

The internet used to be, nay, still is, a source of creative content.  I am a creator of creative content. It’s my job. Some of my ideas are better than others. The melting snowman, the sparkly marshmallows, the pizza pops, the drawing on food. This Star Wars snack mix rocks. Those were good ones. Other ideas. Ahem, not so much. Even others, what was I thinking? But still. We all have good days and bad days in our jobs.

overwhelmed_triangleNow though, the content creators are wedged in that tiny corner of the triangle. The internet is flooded with recreations of some hard-to-find and even harder-to-DEFINE original idea. Then recreations of the recreations. Then recreations of the recreations of the recreations. Then round-up sites that only post other people’s creations. Then repins and links and AARRRGH!  I am in this whirlwind too, of course.  My new ideas are inspired by this collective creating and sharing and re-sharing. I repin and make round-ups. I add to the tumbleweed. The internet is so cluttered, is there any  way to have a manageable pool of ideas?  I liken this internet clutter to the clutter in my house and my not-so-uncommon desire to simplify. But whenever I toss and donate stuff, more stuff seems to take its place. And so I buy more stuff to try and organize and contain my stuff, but it just means more stuff.

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Is this how the world felt when Gutenberg invented the printing press? Books and newspapers and written words, mass communication, changed everything, made the world smaller and more accessible. It allowed information to travel in what must have felt like the blink of an eye. With the internet, that information doesn’t just feel like it travels in the blink of an eye, it actually does. I imagine that 15th century denizens may have felt similarly bombarded with ideas and information. I wonder if they got their chemises in a bunch like I’m doing with my underwear right now.

 

As one who earns her income with her creative content, and one who is less than stellar at adjusting to a changing marketplace, to navigating social media, and to engaging readers to keep them coming… I may not survive it. At least, as far as the blogging-as-a-job thing is concerned. And I’m becoming a wee bit bitter and cynical (gee, can you tell?). Anyone who has had to deal with job loss,  lost income and this dang economy knows, it’s impossible not to worry when your job is at risk, and I do need to plan an alternative. But enough about my particular woes… It’s this whole internet thing.

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I’m convinced the information superhighway is changing our biological instincts. It’s not just “fight or flight” anymore. It’s “fight, flight, or stop and capture this on a video that may go viral.” (For example, see here.) My 16 month old can already navigate my ipad.  I didn’t even have internet in college. I used to take the bus to the Library of Congress and do research there (and walk uphill barefoot in snow to go to school?). But I could never dis-connect. Not totally. I can’t miss awesome insights into the world around me (mostly from George Takei), military homecomings that make me bawl, clever memes that remind me other people feel the same way, finding friends from high school on facebook. And that HoneyMaid love commercial. Not to mention the cat that saved the boy. There is much glory and wonder in internetland that I would never give up. The UN has declared that internet access is a human right.  I agree. Access to this wealth of information, to the rest of the world, is so very integral to our lives now, and no one should be denied this. And I would never suggest unplugging.

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Yet, I need some wise words from those of you who have it all figured out. How do you collect ideas without getting overwhelmed but all that exists? Bloggers, how are you surviving the changes? How do you manage the internet? Do you ever disconnect?

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. Posted May 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I loved books as a kid. I purchased art and craft books & magazines, DIY projects, decorating, etc. I couldn’t afford formal training in art so I took an occasional workshop. So, books & magazines were it for me; until, the internet. I no longer had to wait months for inspiration from a magazine, it was instant gratification every morning. I can use a translator to read about trends in other countries, make a pattern I found the same day, become inspired and actually complete projects. When I saw your “Zombie Marshmallows”, I wrote and asked your permission to make them in polymer clay and you graciously said yes. My grandchildren and I enjoy them every Halloween. As far as time management, I’m retired and have that luxury. As far as gathering too much, yes, I have deleted boards and will probably delete more. I find I access specific boards more than others. Now, I have to go through those books (old friends) and organize my studio. That’s where I tend to be “all over” the place. Thanks for the post. – Marlene

  2. meaghanmountford
    Posted May 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Marlene, I remember! And I was exactly the same before the internet. You reminded me of all the magazines I clipped, the pieces of paper with notes from TV craft shows jotted down, ideas, etc. Clutter there as well. And with the internet, it’s filled with so many creative people’s ideas, it’s like getting a new magazine every day. Every hour! You’re right about the time management part, too. With work and school PTA and 2 kids and the like, that’s my biggest challenge. I simply don’t have any hours or minutes for hobbies. But you also reminded me about the benefit of hobbies. Of just doing something because you like it and have fun. Of course, I tend to, um, overcomplicate things.

  3. Karen
    Posted May 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Well-written post! Even though I don’t run a blog, I know the feeling of being overwhelmed by TOO MUCH…. While the Internet and technology are wonderful things, the world is NOT a better place when this overwhelming feeling is affecting so many. People are losing their ability/capacity to be alone…
    to have quiet…
    and to engage in the real world wholly and completely.

  4. Posted May 19, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    This is an interesting post! :) I think the thing with recreations is that sometimes the first ‘creator’ in the queue didn’t get it right…or didn’t make it the way I want it or the way that it would suit my needs best, etc., so then you take a good idea and adapt it as such. Chocolate chip cookies were an original idea, but I’d never want all the butter and sugar associated with the first recipe, so I’d take it and ‘healthify’ it for myself.

    I think what’s important in this world is to CITE your inspiration so that the original creators can get credit. I’m primarily involved in the food end of blogging and become highly annoyed when people write as though they didn’t gain their idea from somewhere. That would be my confession. :)

  5. meaghanmountford
    Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I so so so so so so (did I say so?) so agree with you Lauren!! I always try and cite original inspiration for all those reasons. And, I think it just adds to the sense of community online when we credit where we might get inspiration and ideas, even if we change them considerably for our own needs.

  6. meaghanmountford
    Posted May 19, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Karen, I worry about all of those things with my 2 young children. I wonder if they will understand what that even means. I also find that in the last year or so, I’ve been turning off the TV and reading more, not as a deliberate choice, but because I just want to. Of course, um, I’m reading on a kindle :).

  7. Posted May 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m like you – I grew up without computers. I played outside . . . even in college, my undergrad degree was in Forestry. I loved either hiking or reading or making.

    My fear is not about how long this will last or if I will have a job – probably because I don’t have kids, so it would be easier for me than a parent to go back into the work world (no kids to raise or situate). My fear is that I’m losing touch with the “real” world.

    I spend a lot of hours in front of the computer and sometimes I want to push it away because it all feels fake. I was pretty adventurous in my 20s and I miss that time. I’m nearing 40 and things change, but still . . . so I’m making more of an effort in 2014 to read, to hike, and to do the things I used to do. I want to make sure I’m REALLY experiencing life rather than just reading about it on the internet. I want to go to the places and have the experiences in the “cool” pictures you see on viral sites :D

  8. meaghanmountford
    Posted May 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Amy, smack dab right on. I’m 41, and I feel the same about the computer, and yet I gravitate toward it every time I walk by it. Check email, check facebook, etc etc etc. While I was never outdoorsy or adventurous, I have scuba dived and hiked a volcano, and well, that’s about it. But I’m going to use my kids as an excuse to get out there more.

  9. Posted May 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m 26, and I feel as though I’m among the last to know a world (even if it was just ages 0-12) without internet. To have learned regular writing first I remember hating my 6th grade required keyboarding class, wanting to hand write instead. I diy for a sense I connection with making down thing tangible. Then I started blogging about it. At the moment I feel like my blog would be more successful if I spent less time designing and making quality crafts and more time photographing, photoshopping & marketing content that took less time to produce. I’m glad to read your insights! I work with teens who can’t cut a curved line since they don’t have art, they can’t clearly write their names (even in print). I feel grateful to have had at least a few analog educational years. If not, I might have never tried knitting or sewing. At all!

  10. Posted July 6, 2014 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Well, I worry a lot. Then I ask people like you, who seem to have a way better grasp on this than I do. Then I worry some more. Then I decide that all I can do is do my best to do right by others, keep my head down, and just do my thing. I guess now I think of my blog as my journal.

    It’s helped a lot (that and my sweet baby that reminds me daily what’s really important) but when I do have a bad day, I’m again thankful for the friends that I’ve met in this information overload that keep me sane.

    PS-I check out a lot too, lol!

  11. meaghanmountford
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    And this doubles as a great reminder for me I’m not alone and great advice Callye!!

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