In Love with Who Again?

The following is a guest post from Lindsey Tramuta. Lindsey and I had a great conversation about this very topic a couple weeks ago and I’m thrilled she decided to share her thoughts here on Life Without Pants. Lindsey is the creator of Lost In Cheeseland. She is a Paris transplant from Philadelphia, married to a Frenchman and on a permanent quest to understand the idiosyncrasies of the French. In real life, she is in charge of Marketing & Communications for an online multi-brand boutique. Check her out!

I can’t explain it to him. I’ve tried, and I sense a gleam in his eyes that leads me to believe he is making an effort to understand. Still, my growing addiction is just far beyond comprehension to him.

Oh wait, you thought I meant…? No, I’m not addicted to drugs. Something far worse. I’m afflicted with the same thing plaguing the majority of gen y – the internet. But more specifically, social media. I don’t even like that term anymore, social media, because it somehow implies real socializing. Not to minimize the virtual relationships I’ve developed over twitter, blogs and subsequently through email, but it’s not socializing in the intended sense of the term, especially not in the way my husband interprets it.

What’s the value of Social Media?

The value of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook is undeniable and has been argued into the ground. I can show my husband all of Mashable’s articles about social media and explain to him that these tools really do make us more productive, but no matter what I say or how I frame it, I’m in love with my computer in his eyes. Better yet, I’m more interested in spending my evenings (after a long day behind the computer mind you) reading and tweeting and writing and blogging and wedging myself further into this world that he has no interest in entering. Can I blame him for feeling this way? Absolutely not. I know, however, that it is not about finding other people more interesting or placing more value in people I don’t physically know than in him.

It’s about learning – about myself and others and pulling inspiration from the hundreds of comments and articles posted daily across many media platforms. I don’t think I’ve learned this much about a myriad of topics even when I was in school which has convinced me that there is something to be said for self-education. But at what cost?

I start to feel strange when I haven’t checked twitter, email, Facebook and the blogs I follow. There is a sense of discomfort (withdrawal) that is very hard to describe but it exists. I’m foolishly convinced I’ll miss out on something of colossal importance which is thus the root of the problem. For so long I worried about missing something in the US since I live in Paris, be it with my family and friends or even national events, and now I’m worried about missing something online. The point was certainly not to swap one issue for another.

I don’t want to feel inhibited by the internet…

It has a luring force and community spirit but it does not take the place of outings with family and friends. Internet Addiction Disorder has already been established as a reality and interferes significantly with daily life. I would not say it interferes negatively with my daily life but it certainly occupies much of my time and energy, apparently to the detriment of my relationship.

In January, Matt did a post about how every blogger should have a non-blogger spouse, and I agree completely. In theory, the inactive social media user reminds us that while it’s rewarding to develop relationships made virtually (and important for networking), it’s face-to-face time that should take precedence. So long as balance is upheld with sufficient non-virtual bonding time, the non-blogger should be supportive and encouraging of the blogging spouse’s endeavors. In all honesty, I have yet to find this balance. I know that my husband is overjoyed that I have found my niche on and off line in Paris and that all the reading and writing I do makes me happy, but he feels rejected and cast aside. More than anything I wish he could share the fulfillment and celebrate my successes with me as I would with him.

Passions and hobbies are as important to individual development as they are to the health of a relationship but not when they usurp the time you spend together. I wish he would be more involved in and receptive to my passions and he wishes I would step away from the computer and focus on him. I believe I should be able to do both, the trick is finding that balance.

How have you had to make concessions in your inter-personal relationships vis à vis your blogging and social media use?