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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

One of the biggest differences of opinion that has been characterizing Gainesville lately lies in the split personality of Mother Nature. A literal night-and-day contrast, the weather over the past week has not only confused my wardrobe but has also influenced my decision-making abilities in other areas of life. Shakespeare was onto something with the words, "To be, or not to be?" for that is the question that shall forever remain unanswered in some way, shape or form. Add or drop? Pass or fail? Spend or save? Stay single or swing? Continue or quit? Hibernate or hobnob?

This uncertainty seeped its way into the column you are currently reading. For those who caught last week's edition, there was hesitation on my part to continue writing in a fashion similar to before. As an unattached lady who has temporarily lost her libido, the idea of writing a dating column seemed a tad futile. And so, a compromise has been reached in which this printed space's purpose no longer requires a black or white solution.

Welcome to The Art of Flying Solo, a weekly column that tackles the ins and outs of single life in Gainesville. Topics of boning will not be abandoned entirely, yet like the real lives that all of us lead, sex is no longer the sole focus. C'mon kiddies, let's face it: If even the most promiscuous of us have to take breathers from hooking up, then why should I force a dialogue that lacks genuine substance? I refuse to fake an orgasm, and I will carry that into my writing.

That being said, this week I'd like to call attention to three little words that seem to consume many peoples' lives: online social networking.

These days it seems that you're nobody until somebody friend requests you. I'll be the first to admit that even I get a bit of a high when I see something I've written re-Tweeted into the universe — such an act sends a rush to the brain, regardless of the Tweeter's intent. Spouting off using these mechanisms is fast, easy, instantly gratifying and incredibly self-indulgent. It's no wonder that so many of us are totally addicted to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr-they all harbor characteristics that parallel intoxicating substances. The difference: Online social networking is legal, free and (for the most part) unfiltered. Oh, plus everyone and their grandmother is now juiced into at least one of these outlets, which means the material for jabbering gossip is endless.

All of the above leads me to wonder how life would change if I decided to deactivate. No more Facebook. No more Twitter. No more blogging. My YouTube, Last.fm, Perez Hilton, MySpace and other online accounts are all closed, deleted, gone. This year, if people want to access me, they're going to have to do it the old fashioned way — email, text or even brave an actual voice-to-voice phone call.

As one who has always failed miserably at the act of playing hard-to-get, I have to say that deactivating this portion of my social life has delivered the most infuriating satisfaction I have experienced in a long time. First of all, within a week of leaving Zuckerberg's empire, my phone nearly maxed out on its text message capacity. I'd like to boast that all of this excessive attention was due to some magical, new-found popularity, but the reality is people were just wondering WTF happened to my profile. This makes me laugh for two reasons: 1. The ability to creep was nipped in the bud which probably meant that... 2. Those creepers had to wonder if I had de-friended them (that bitch!).

The verdict? So far, so good. It's been about a month since I went offline. I will have to say that, yes, I am more out-of-the-loop than usual, but it's really nice. The Internet is now completely boring. As a result, my free time has increased, thereby skyrocketing productivity in other areas of interest.

The truth is, if something really significant in my social network happens, I will find out anyway. I will even go as far as to say my lack of online presence has elevated general interest in my real life.

People can no longer draw some conclusion based on a photo or status update, which alleviates a lot of room for drama. On the flip side, disconnecting from everyone else's lives has allowed me to focus on my own.

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