Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been experiencing problems with my website, which has been extremely slow in loading.
My initial reaction to this was an interesting one. I lurched from total despair and giving up blogging altogether, to the nuclear solution of starting again i.e. a new website etc. Having played with these extremes for a while I decided to take a long hard look at my digital life. Through this process it became abundantly clear that I was:
- stuck in a rut; and
- obsessed with the digital life
My mini digital disaster had presented me with some stark findings and an opportunity: an opportunity to change.
A friend in need
When I first noticed that my website was having problems my heart sank. Looking back at that moment it is clear that this is the sort of reaction that would come from someone who was attached to their website.
I did all the usual things: contacted my hosting service, Googled the problem etc. My hosting service said that it was nothing their end and sent me a couple of very long emails that might as well have been written in Russian, describing what I could do to try to rectify the problem. They also said that they had tested the site and that it was loading fine their end.
I also found some useful posts online and decided to implement some of the suggestions: the main one being to install the plugin W3 Total Cache. That however was an interesting exercise in itself as trying to install a plugin on a site that takes forever to load throws up its own set of challenges. Eventually I managed it though, and I think it helped.
Finally I posted on Twitter and G+ asking for help and out of the mist rode a knight in shining armour in the form of Raam Dev.
Raam offered to look at my site for me, and I am grateful for his assistance. Thank you.
Nothing obviously wrong was found – good news.
In the meantime a couple of other people had also contacted me to say that the site was loading fine for them. So I checked again and the site loaded. The problem had disappeared. ‘the spartan penguin’ was back!
Thank you to each and everyone who tested out the site and got back to me, and to those who retweeted etc. my call for help. That’s the power of the internet in action.
Regeneration and experimentation
Not knowing if my website was dying or not, really got me thinking about my digital life. The realisation that I was a) stuck in a rut, and b) obsessed with the digital life, was a salutary one.
During this time I did a lot of writing: a lot of writing with a pen and paper. I started to look at my life, including my online life.
I realised that I had been sleep-walking: sleep-walking in a schedule of writing every Saturday morning, posting every Tuesday, spending an hour or so on the internet every day, updating Twitter, updating G+ etc. It had all become a habit, an unconscious habit.
So I began to question, question everything.
I started with my online life and asked myself:
- why do I post every week?
- why are my posts all roughly the same length?
- why do I feel the need to update Twitter and G+ daily?
- what would happen if I didn’t do these things?
The answer to the first three points was obvious: habit.
The answer to the final point was more interesting, and frightening: I don’t know…..
So I’ve decided to throw away the schedule, to rip-up the ‘rule book’ and to experiment.
Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be trying different things: posting less frequently, posting more frequently, writing articles for Ezine, posting more/less mini-posts on G+, engaging with Twitter, not engaging with Twitter. All to see what happens.
The key for me is my message. There are many ways to ‘get that message out there’ and I want to explore and experiment with them. That feels exciting and liberating, whereas being stuck in a digital rut did not.
So what about the obsession? The internet and all that it entails can be incredibly addictive. I have fallen foul of that to some degree. In addition to detaching from the rut and routine, and exploring and experimenting with my work, I have decided to take a more holistic view of my life.
Spending hours online takes away from other activities. The online life should complement, not take-over. Already I’ve begun to take steps to address this by:
- arranging meet-ups with friends
- planning activities with my wife
- reading more books (the paper kind)
- journaling (with a real pen and paper)
- limiting my time online
I am learning to let go, to engage holistically with my life.
I am learning to give equal weight and attention to everything that I do.
I am choosing to experiment and experience.
The simplicity of this approach is that it’s fluid: there are no self-imposed expectations, or deadlines, or schedules. My work will flow and I will learn.
This ties in really neatly with the work I’ve been doing on my manifesto. The lessons and experiences of working with the two, and turning them into one holistic package, excites me.
I feel the change. I am rediscovering and charting new territory. Regeneration is in the air.
And all because of a technical glitch: a technical glitch that led to my asking some important questions.
So now it’s your turn.
What are you questioning today?