There was a time (before I started this PhD business) that I read blogs. Lots and lots of blogs. It all started when I became friends with a group of women in Birmingham who met regularly to do crafty things and drink wine. Lots and lots of wine. We all started blogging in the days between our meetings about our creations and about our ideas for new crafty goodness. And then before we knew it - we had a pretty loyal following of other women in Birmingham who wanted to play along. One night a newcomer to our group mentioned something about one of our blog posts showing up in her Google Reader.
"Whaaaaat," we all asked. "What's a Google Reader?"
My life changed that night.
Suddenly, there was no limit to the amount of information that I could digest in one day. Every morning I would open Google Reader to my long list of favorite blogs and begin to read. Every blog I read linked me to another blog which linked me to a blog about this which linked me to a blog about that. And wow. Instantly I had a plethora of friends with common interests, a mile-long list of things I needed to buy, an infinite number of causes I wanted to support, and more ideas for improving every aspect of my life than I could ever possibly use. My Google Reader was open all the time, and my world was expanded, to say the least.
A year or so later I started to realize that I was worrying about people I had never even met. I was checking daily to see if Stephanie's husband was coming home from Afghanistan today (or was it next Wednesday?). I was obsessively checking to see if Virginia found a dress for her sister's wedding yet. I was mourning the loss of Julia's dog. All this in addition to my own life and its very real ups and downs. I realized I was spending a lot of energy wanting things I didn't necessarily need. And I began to see my life in comparison to the online lives of people I didn't even know. It was all too much, and it was making me very tired. It wasn't improving or enriching my life at all. In fact, it was making my life much more complicated.
And so, just as quickly as I had opened and built my Google Reader account, I deleted it.
And oh how I missed it.
But over time I found that I was writing on my own blog again, crafting again, and enjoying my free time a whole lot more. After I entered the PhD program I opened a new Google Reader account and built my blog list from scratch. I limit the amount of time I spend online, and I limit the blogs I follow to those related to my field of study. This way I'm less likely to wander off topic into a blog oblivion while I should be studying or writing a paper. Sure, I still keep up with Stephanie and Virginia, and I will confess that Dooce will always be my guilty pleasure. But I force myself to type "dooce.com" into my browser when I want to catch up with Heather.
I have a rule: if it's worth remembering, I'll remember how to get there.
As for this week's assignment:
I love Common Craft. I've used these videos for training over the years, and have found them very effective. I really like the thought of being an explanation specialist. The video that started it all for Common Craft a few years ago is one that explains RSS Feeds in common English. I wanted to share this even though I knew that embedding had been disabled (probably by request of Common Craft), so you'll just need to click on the youtube link that displays after you try to start the video. Trust me. You'll like it. And I pinkie swear that I do know how to embed a video.