Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a few winter hours considering things like “focus” and “distraction.” This has been a wonderful winter for pondering anything deeper than “liking” a post on Facebook. In fact, a Facebook post about shoveling snow may have been the genesis for my deep winter thoughts.
A local citizen, occasionally noted for getting up on his “soapbox” on a certain town Facebook page, was lathering up the people about throwing snow in the road. Living here on my somewhat quiet street, I’d not noticed this particular crime against humanity. Before I got the snow scoop, I might have thrown an occasional shovel of the stuff into the downwind of the plow, since I’m the last house on this street and it will just be spread along the edge of my yard. But in general, I’ve been able to keep the snow within my own boundaries.
As the “story developed” other citizens chimed in with epithets of indignation like “that’s awful” and “someone should call the police.” Another citizen reminded Facebook readers that throwing snow in the road is “against the law.”
What would happen next? Would there be citizen vigilante teams roaming the streets of the old hometown, looking for errant flakes of snow? Would these vigilantes be deputized by Chief Brooks and given the power to arrest snowflake scofflaws?
Finally, a young citizen challenged the soapbox strutter with something like “why don’t you go and talk to the people who are doing it? Posting about it on Facebook doesn’t accomplish anything.”
A few months ago, I accidentally deleted the Facebook application on my phone. I decided not to download it again and as a result, I go to Facebook less. I started relying on Twitter for information, but after the Valentine’s Blizzard that blizzled out and all the foolish weather mea culpas, even Twitter felt like sound and fury signifying nothing. Nothing more than the shallow consumption of information, cultural croutons, and binary bits. I’m really not sure anymore if social media has the power to transform our world.
It certainly isn’t a call to action.
After a number of daily meditations while moving my mountains of snow and keeping them within the boundaries of my property, I’ve reached a conclusion. I am giving up Facebook, Twitter, and one blog I read religiously. I’m giving these things up “for Lent.” It may not change my life but it will eliminate three sources of distraction for a specific period of time.
Some more snow fell overnight and I see the place where the plow left its mark. It’s time for my daily snow meditation and mortification.
Stop by any time.