I took a 40-day sabbatical from Facebook, Twitter, and all other social media recently because I realized I was spending too much time chronicling the moments that make up the dull day and reading friends and strangers do the same rather than actually living and participating in my life. If I hadn't reached that conclusion on my own, Eric Bibb's "Painting Signs" would have beautifully, delicately told me that very thing.
"Painting Signs" was written in 2001, before we were all on Facebook and before Twitter even existed so this isn't a new phenomenon in human behavior and the song is not a heavy-handed lecture about technology and its evils. That said, take a few minutes and read your Facebook and Twitter timelines. Count the number of times you read about someone "vegging" in front of the television, "chilling," trying to decide what to do with their day, talking about last night's game, listing the daily agenda and complaining about how they'll never accomplish it all. Now count the times you've done the same. We think we're sharing our lives but we're not really sharing anything at all. To quote Lennon, "everybody's talking but no one says a word" and Bibb describes it as "peeping through life's blinds... painting signs."
I questioned whether or not I was really learning or gaining anything while away from social media and there were times I seriously thought about junking my experiment but something subliminal happened while I was unplugged that I didn't appreciate or understand until I returned. I don't spend as much time on Facebook or Twitter now that I've returned and I'm more selective in what I say or share. It feels good but I realize it's only the beginning!
My life may never bring fame or fortune and I may never stop painting signs altogether but I'm aspiring to live a new song, thinking like Dylan. I want to paint my masterpiece by making my life into one, connecting, learning, listening, and keeping the important things important.
soul on strike, sorry closed, gone fishing, back next week, under repair, out of order, help wanted, dead end street
losing weight and losing my mind one day at a time, in the mirror face growing thinner, fooling myself but no one else, peeping through life's blinds, skipping dinner, what I was really doing: painting signs