on life, ambitions, and dreams

Being Silent, Unplugging & Going Dark

Everything Goes Dark, Leah Makin Photography

Every so often someone on Twitter or Facebook boldly declares that they are unplugging this weekend, going dark. Usually they’re on their way up the mountains where there’s no cell phone reception. Other times they’re staying in town and just need to mentally unwind. And sometimes they don’t announce it at all and they fall

off the blogosphere.

And it takes awhile before we notice.

Falling off

A friend of mine, Andrew Swenson, recently “fell off the face of the social media earth,” without announcing it (or if he did, I completely missed it). A few of us piped up in between that we missed him. And when he resurfaced, he explained what happened and what he had learned. I admire what Andrew did. He had a lot of things going on in his “real” life and he needed the space to really figure it out for himself.

Being silent & holding back

When someone says that they’re doing this, it is just noise. But when someone just does it, it leaves me wondering what’s going on, what’s really going on in their life. Going dark without letting someone know is like staying out past your curfew when you were in high school; those who care about you get worried.

Being silent online means that something is happening that you can’t quite articulate. There have been a number of things that have happened since I’ve been social-media-ly-social that I have held back from explaining or taken a few days to figure out the right message to deliver the news with. Most of the time it’s about things that don’t matter in the scope of the universe but that matter a lot to me, otherwise I wouldn’t care and would just say it.

That leads to a series of questions—if we are extra social, why do we hold back when life is the most out of our control? Why do we develop these relationships when we’re feeling on top of the world and retreat offline when we aren’t?

Simple: we want people to view us in the way that we want ourselves to be viewed. We are attracted to people who are attracted to us. We want to surround ourselves with safe, positive energy and ideas. It’s human nature. And if we expose ourselves as anything but that then we leave ourselves open for something else—an unknown.

And this unknown is pretty damn scary because it’s our heart that we have bared from our chest and we don’t know how you or anyone else is going to react to it—if they’re going to dance around in it or stomp it out, leaving it and all our ideas pulsing, waiting for the blood to stop flowing and dry out.

If you look across the blogosphere, the “unknowns” we blog about are things that are exciting and exhilarating. We write about challenges that we’re ready to face, how we’re living a life according to our own rules, and how we’re crushing it.

Being affirmative is sexy; being vulnerable with a purpose can be too.

Photo Credit: Leah Makin Photography


7 Responses

  1. Vulnerability is the key to unlocking all of the potential inside us!! That you can stand in your own life and own ALL (good or bad) of the opinions of you, stories about you, looks at you, and still take action toward fulfilling your dreams & goals…that’s damn sexy. Those people who seem to powerfully glide through life are like that. And we want to be like them & never know just what it is that we sense but can’t see. nnThe truly awesome thing I find about vulnerability: that it doesn’t open you to as much judgement as one thinks, it actually opens up lots of opportunities for people to contribute: to your idea, to your project, to your life! nn

    1. Vulnerability comes in many different forms. The one you’re talking about are those dreams and ideas that are absolutely sexy. What I was talking about are those raw feelings that we may not have figured out yet–that idea that is stirring up a funky emotion inside that you haven’t figured out how you, yourself, feel about it yet. That’s the type of vulnerability that people tend not to reveal.nnIn both cases, sharing does open you up for opportunity for others to contribute, if that’s what you’re looking for.

      1. For me vulnerability is letting all of life in, not just when I’ve figured it out, but letting people see the rawness and allowing them to contribute to helping me figure it out. nnThere’s nothing wrong with not having all of the answers, but if we don’t let what’s roiling around in our heads out, we’ll never know there might be an easy answer in a head sitting right next to us.nnBasically, vulnerability is not caring about looking good, and contribution can happen when we don’t care about being right. Both require us to get pride out of our way.

  2. Outstanding post! I “unplugged” for all of 18 hours a few weeks back when I was having a semi-meltdown. I decided to just shut everything out for one evening – I thought I needed the silence to heal. But what I discovered was that my brain doesn’t work that way – my mind was still going a million miles an hour – figety, anxious, words, words, words swirling around. It bummed me out, but I picked up a pen and wrote, and started processing my thoughts and it felt better. I learned something else – I have a hard time being “idle”. I have it on my list to work on though. Sometimes the brain does need that quiet time, even if it is only a few minutes.

    1. I’m the same way — while unplugging and trying to quiet my brain is helpful, switching to all sorts of different “to do’s” usually helps me file away what’s going on in my head. nn”Sometimes the brain does need that quiet time, even if it is only a few minutes.” — well said.

  3. So well said and you are right… so connecting with what I’m playing with right now, too. Thanks for writing this- important to really get under and see how desperately we want to “look” a certain way. Vulnerability is our access to everything, me thinks.

    1. I was inspired to write this post by a number of things, and one of them was your “Flow, Baby. Flow” piece which was absolutely, incredibly amazing. nnI’m not someone who lays everything out when I’m still trying to work through it. I value the comments that other people make and if I’m not sure where I stand, it’s probably not a good idea to offer the opportunity for others to be swayed. But sometimes you have to open up to just be open and say, “things aren’t going as planned, but that’s okay.”nnFor those interested, here’s Regina’s amazing post: http://restoringpower.com/2010/11/flow-baby-flow/

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