Thursday, September 9, 2004


I was thinking last night about two things. The first is how wonderful the internet is at bringing people together. Cross stitching, and needle arts in general, are not as popular as they used to be. Once upon a time, when women didn't have to juggle two jobs - one outside the house, and the other inside - we actually had a little free time to devote to hobbies, and needlework was somewhat popular. From the 70s forward, women, especially those in their 20s and 30s (the childbearing years) simply don't have time. Moreover, sitting home doing anything hasn't been popular for several decades. Nowadays everyone is climbing walls, working out, surfing, what have you. The number of those practicing the needlearts is dwindling and most needle artists tend to be over 40 (the start of the "finally have time to breathe" years).

Thanks to the internet, however, you can make friends with many other cross stitchers you wouldn't have otherwise met. We can get together and support each other in our hobby without so much as having to leave our homes. It's pretty awesome. I have local cross stitching friends too, and nothing personal, I rather get together "in real life" than online even though I'm a geek. Nevertheless, I belong to at least a dozen online cross stitching groups (if not more) - all of which I used to post daily to.

The second thing I was thinking about is how the internet, wonderful as it is, tends to suck you (and your free time) in. You start out thinking, "I'm going to check my mail" or "I'm going to see what's new in the group" "I'm just going to read the news" and before you know it, you are surprised that an hour (or two or three) has passed. This loss of time begins to be problematic if it continues over an extended period of time and, eventually, burns you out as seem to have less and less time for everything and you don't seem to accomplish as much as you used to - both of which cause constant stress.
The fact of the matter is that we can do anything we want, but we can't do everything we want. Time, once spent, can't be reused, so we need decide how much time to devote to what and try to stick to it. Many people don't have problems balancing their internet time. I'm online a lot because I have been working in e-commerce for a long time now, and for me it can be a problem simply because I am online as many as 12 hours a day, between work and pleasure. Even so, a lot of us are working at computers all day even if we don't work for internet-based companies. I've been staring at a screen daily since 1989!
So, the point I'm getting at here, is that many of us are burning ourselves out unnecessarily. A few months ago, I started using a timer for personal computer use. Not one of those dorky kitchen ones, but on my computer. I spend one hour at a time and when that's over, I walk away. I have a mandatory 20 minute wait before I get on again. If at work, I allow myself a 10 minute mental health break to check my mail and maybe check out a group. Only 1 such break for every 4 hours of work. I feel more in control now and these groups, and the internet, have not collapsed from my absence. I also don't feel as stressed as I used to - I actually have time now for other things. Well, my hour is up, folks. Gotta get ready for work. I will be back later today to post about needlework and current events.


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