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Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Helloo! Happy Autumn, or if you’re in the UK like I am, happy fog!

Basically, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live in the UK and haven’t watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail a thousand times like I have, here you go:

Except we don’t usually get the summer bit ūüėČ

Anyhow, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged¬†for two reasons:

1) I’ve been¬†to the States twice since August, and up to Scotland shortly after, so I’ve had little time to write let alone blog *about* writing.

2) As much as I love reading all the wonderful content out there, not just about writing but about people’s lives, their adventures, their struggles,¬†how they¬†handle and overcome those struggles, most of the time I don’t feel a great need to blog about my own.

When I do, I post something, but lately I¬†feel strongly that¬†what I add to the¬†bulging-at-the-seams interwebz needs to be meaningful, even if just in a small way. I don’t want to post about how much I wrote or didn’t if it doesn’t matter to anyone but me. I guess I don’t know exactly what my blog should include at this point, but along with the updates I share with #WIPMarathon and other writer buddies,¬†I want it to say *something*, even if it’s just, “This is what I learned this month.”

Which brings me to this post’s point. Yesterday I read about Essena O’Neill‘s departure from social media (I’d never heard of her until yesterday, but that’s probably because I only look at friends’ Instagrams¬†and don’t even know what half the social media websites/apps are these days). Regardless, it struck me hard. This¬†young woman is wise beyond her years. She’s realising *now* how crazy the internet has made society, and she’s saying no more. She’s trying to use it for good, now, instead of¬†subsisting on the number of likes and views she gets in a day.

If you haven’t seen or read about her, check this out:¬†http://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemcneal/a-teen-instagram-star-is-editing-her-photo-captions-to-show#.jcbbylpyk

It comes a few days after I was up in Scotland, sitting on the train from Croy to Edinburgh. I was alone, just taking a book to wander Edinburgh for a few hours and get some ideas down in a coffee shop somewhere. (Edinburgh is great for inspiration, in case you had any doubt!)

Anyhow, as I was staring outside my window watching the beautiful rolling hills and general gorgeousness that is Scotland zip past, headphones on and¬†Radiohead tickling my eardrums, I noticed the guy across from me. I didn’t really look at his face (in that way you try not to make eye contact with people on public transport for fear of making them uncomfortable, LOL). But I noticed after a minute, he put his phone down and stared out the window, too. I could see his reflection in the glass¬†and for about five minutes, both of us just watched the world outside, despite the ever-tempting “let me check my Facebook / texts / Instagram / news feeds / Twitter / emails” compulsion we all have these days.

And you know what? It was bliss. Two humans, watching beautiful scenery go by, not touching our phones. And it struck me as sad, that this is a rarity that I would even *notice*. But it convinced me I need to do it more.

The point I took away from Essena’s message, and from her new website,¬†letsbegamechangers.com, was her¬†new simple life goals:

  1. Being truly honestly happy and content in the present.
  2. Having a positive impact on other people and the world.

These are mine, too, but sometimes I have to step back from¬†the circus that we carry around in the palm of our hand and remember it. Being present is what’s most important. Time is our¬†most valuable commodity. We’re never going to get it back. So I’m trying to remind myself, are these 20 minutes scrolling through social media as important as making eye contact and conversation in real life, or sharing the same view of¬†a gorgeous countryside?

Don’t get me wrong; I will be forever grateful for what the internet offers.¬†There is an ocean between myself and my family and dear friends and all the places and things that are familiar to me. Were it not for Skype and Facetime and email and instant messaging, I wouldn’t know what was going in there, I wouldn’t get to see my Mom more than two¬†times a year. I wouldn’t trade that capability away. And I’m thankful beyond words for the friends and writing partners and beautiful people the internet has allowed me to meet, and stay in touch with as I¬†work from my writing cave! SO grateful! And Pinterest! Holy story inspiration!

But there’s a line between making the best use of those capabilities, and zoning out as I¬†scroll past what everyone else *says* they’re¬†doing and eating and feeling. It’s nice to see what my friends and loved ones are up to, but that’s where it needs to stop. I’m going into the new year with the goal of spending¬†less time¬†with my eyes on my phone. I know it’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

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