Friday, January 30, 2009

Cleaner, Leaner, and "Better!"

Yes! YES! YES!!!! I have just finished with the day's unusual work: I put everything on pause, and just deleted - deleted - unsubscribed in the virtual world. I deleted close to 2000 stored messages from Gmail. When I turned to Facebook, I found I was a member of an astounding 210+ groups! I am down to about 140 now. My unread emails counter on Gmail was reading 516. As I am about to turn in for sleep, it's down to a cleaner 67. Over the weekend, I intend to make my virtual world a new place, ready in alignment with my life priorities. 

Internet overwhelms me now. The social networks are too buzzy, and my email is too stagnant. IM has too much talk. Clearly, I was in need of a personal policy. I was rather unaware that I even had an issue until on November 21, 2008, I attended a talk on the Attention Economy. The subject of the talk was the two-word summary lesson I walked away with. 

Earlier I had written on the subject of Attention itself, partly irked by the constant barrage of "political opinions" of the layperson who insist upon being taken seriously and start petitions and protests at the drop of a hat (missile?). When you're in Karachi, Pakistan, there's no power for 10-12 hours a day, you've got work to do and the city can face unpredictable security situation - this kind of dishing out of attention on the frivolous is not just a luxury, it is obscene. Attention is currency. Either we're spending it right and prudently, or we're wasting. Speaking of the Internet being too "full" for attention, shortly after the seminar on Attention Economy that suddenly alarmed me to the Attention Crunch coming - I found support in Seth Godin's warning

So I wasn't getting crazy and edgy for no reason. I couldn't stand another Facebook soap opera episode, another friend-of-a-friend bringing their problems to my home-office dead in the middle of when I am writing yet another article for Triple Bottom Line. After all, how many times can I go over the same stuff that I graduated from back in my teen years? Same information. More of the same information. And then some. 

I had to let some people go. And only when I gently (or not so!) detached in the virtual world did I realize the oddity that I was living: hey, since when does it entitle a person to delve deep into my private life with their private petty affairs and "political" activism which, pray, is no more than forcing people to rally around Facebook applications? 

I often take great care in inviting people to event, putting them on a group mail, or tagging them in a note. I have hardly ever forwarded emails in my 11 years online. I usually do not promote my blogs or spam others with requests to promote my stuff. Unless there is a national emergency - even during which, I have attempted to maintain calm and design rather than stir hysteria. 

But I did still sense that I could be doing the same at some level so to begin with, I have started practicing economy and selectivity with my words. Above all, since I do tend to write a lot, I have figured, finally, that this is my talent and I better clearly consider it my calling. I am still not over the wordiness and the long explanations that wormed into my DNA at some point. Yet this realization that words could be my gift to life as they are life's gift to me - this simple realization! - has allowed me to bring many sweeping changes in my life. Creativity is a priority and just when I wanted to word an explanation of the events, along came Better  by Merlin Mann. He's said it all. Attention Overload is a de facto universal phenomenon. 

And sweeping it is! I have been cleaning my room out for weeks now with long breaks. It's full of my papers and art and what-not. I have sharpened my priorities and opened a Facebook Page to organize content, contacts, and conversations. I feel happier engaging with my loved and dear ones as the public noise is walled off. Tonight, I have deleted much from the inbox and I am certain - much more from my attention. 

That's it! Hallelujah! 

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