3 Tips to Clean Up Your Virtual Life

Spring is here! While many of us dust and vacuum our homes and detail our cars, this is a great time to apply some spring cleaning effort to our virtual lives as well.

1. Facebook: When I first joined Facebook, I befriended everyone to whom I had uttered a word. Soon, I had more than 1,000 friends and I realized that if I were collecting items rather than virtual connections, I would be deemed a hoarder. I felt bad as I removed people from my friends list, but then I started to feel a sense of freedom.

Spring Cleaning Tip: If I see the birthday notification in the corner and I am inclined to write them a message, they stay. If not, they go.

2. Twitter: I had a Twitter account and found myself on it all the time, rapidly firing off snippets of thoughts. Then I thought, “Who cares? What am I actually doing on here?” So I canceled the account. I recently signed back up for it with a different moniker and a clear intention about using it to support my writing and spread word about interesting food and health related stories.

Spring Cleaning Tip: Firm parameters can keep technology useful without turning it into an addiction.

3. Texting: I walk with my daughter along a bike path in town and I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Nearly everyone’s face gazes downward as they poke extremely small keyboards. Texting booms, though my wife and I have the service blocked from our phones due to spam and lack of interest. I’m 35, so I know this makes me a millennial Luddite. But hey, we’re outdoors! A creek flows nearby. Birds careen above. And the scenery is beautiful. Don’t miss out on it.

Spring Cleaning Tip: Does that “LOLZ” need to be sent right now? Or might stopping to smell the roses, literally, create a remarkable day?

I could go on and on. I was on two other social networks for a while and maintained way too many e-mail addresses. As my virtual world expanded, so did my stress. I thought, shouldn’t this enhance, rather than detract from, my life? How are these dramas that appear on my “Wall” serving me?

Computers play an important role in my life as a writer and keep me in touch with many great people. Though I am prolific on Facebook, I’ve had a few people notice that I’ve scaled back my overall contributions there in recent weeks.

This season, let’s plan to put human-to-human interaction at the forefront and to keep our heads in the clouds rather than on the tiny phone screen. The beauty of technology is that the “angry” birds will still be there once the weather keeps us inside and the real birds have gone south.

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