thinning the herd

Hi, stranger.

Prepare for a brain dump.

The last few weeks I have felt disconnected and uncomfortable with the internet and social media at large. I guess it started in Santa Barbara. I got a break and then I didn’t want to come back. It’s just all too easy. It’s too easy to get sucked in, caring about things I don’t need to be caring about. It’s too easy for me to avoid the things that are truly important to me with stupid time sucks. Which is kind of a problem, since a big part of my job is my participation in my blog and other online outlets. I need to have balance in order to have a successful business.

But I find myself spending too much time reading the words of a lot of people I don’t know, and some that I don’t actually even like. Because it’s so easy to do. Because there are things to procrastinate. Or there are people who I know that read them, and so I think I need to as well, in order to keep up. I mean, hey, I don’t want to miss out. WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING REALLY GREAT?! Even great in it’s ability to irritate me or get me running to Jeff to tell him about this crazy thing I read online? It’s crazy town, completely bonkers, and I go through these phases every once in awhile where I actually see what I am doing and I cut it all out. I start thinning the herd. I delete people from my bookmarks, I streamline the amount of people I follow on twitter and facebook, I wonder what the hell I am even doing talking about my own life online.

So that’s the space I am in right now. Wondering what the hell I am doing here on this blog, and what the point of all of this even IS.

I am a photographer. My blog is my main source of getting my work out into the world, and hopefully getting people interested in it, and me. I want that part of my job to be honest and sincere though! I don’t want to manipulate people into liking me. So there is the biggest issue. In order to appeal to the masses, you have to be slightly bland, and definitely thoughtful about what you write, so as not to offend ANYONE. It’s fence sitting at it’s supreme. This feels manipulative to me. I hate it. I want the space to be free and be myself, no matter how ugly or offensive that might be. Yet, I know my husband, who works in a typical office environment works the same way. There are a few people he can really talk to. The rest get the surface stuff. This is what happens in a professional environment. It gets dicey with that statement, because I am unsure how “professional” I want to be. Professional sounds cold, but it also sounds smart.

I am also a writer. I have been my entire life. Beginning with punching out stories on my grandma’s typewriter in elementary school. My childhood goal was to be a young adult fiction writer. So there is a part of me that is still that girl. That still wants to write. The best writing is the writing that comes from a deep place. The kind that connects to another person’s deep place. That isn’t necessarily “professional”.

I am a mother. I love the aspect of sharing. When I was a young stay at home mom, my ONLY source of connection and understanding was through the friends that I had online. Since I could hardly make it out of the house, I depended on them to help me through the days. They were there on hard days and celebrated with me on good ones. They still are. I love the ability to share something in my life in order to connect to other people with the same problem/issue/obsession/etc. It has a way of opening life up and making it bigger, at the same time making the world seem smaller and more connected. When you share truth online, it gives people space to breathe, to know they aren’t alone. Ultimately it does the same for me.

I work from home. Social media is my lunch with coworkers. It is my smoke break. It is my 2pm meeting. Maybe I am taking too many breaks?

I am a current events/pop culture junkie. I absolutely LOVE knowing everything that is happening right this second, anywhere. When shit goes down anywhere in the world, @CNNBREAK let’s me know on Twitter. And if they don’t, someone else will. But maybe I don’t need all of that information in my head. Maybe my head is so full of it that it can’t remember to go deposit those checks at the bank or to force myself to get outside and exercise. I don’t know.

I was talking with a friend recently, a friend who isn’t online. ANYWHERE. If you googled her name it is quite possible the only hit would be this blog, because I wrote about her. It was interesting hearing her perspective. She is out in the world, man. She has real life, in person connections with people every day. Good and bad. We were laughing about social media – about how she just doesn’t care about what other people are doing. And she certainly wouldn’t make or have the time to comment on it. This was not said in a selfish way. It came across as perfectly normal. I mean, I have interactions and connections with people online everyday. Does having them online make them less real? Does it make hers more meaningful due to the simple fact they are in person? All of this made me think – why do *I* care? Do I care? Am I normal? Are we normal? All of us who are constantly checking our smart phones for updates? Are we going to regret all this screen time? Or is this just the way the world is now, and if we don’t keep up we will be the same as our parents who couldn’t understand how to work a VCR? Or how some of our parents still don’t know that you can google ANYTHING to find out what you need to know? If we step away from it all will we be lost?

What works for my friend wouldn’t work for me. I can see why she doesn’t need to be online. Why it doesn’t work for her. However, I am an introvert and I have a child who keeps me home a lot. I work from home. More than half of my job is spent at a computer. I have built relationships with people I have met online. Some of these relationships are my most cherished, and the longest friendships I have been lucky enough to have. I don’t want to stop giving to those friends or being a part of their daily lives.

The community I have built here on this blog is also very important to me. I want to give to you guys, too. I want you to know I appreciate the time you spend here, and I want to do better and better by you every day. Maybe some things need moving around. Maybe I need a work space and a personal space. Maybe I need to stop worrying about being bland and just mesh the two a little better.

Maybe I need to experiment with focusing outward a bit more. I want to use my screen time in a beneficial way, and not a compulsive one. I want it to work for me, with me – not against me. The people I look up to, the lives I see being lived that I want to live, don’t have a whole lot of internet time going on.

I don’t really know where I am going with this. But I’d like to say this: if you have noticed me being quieter online, cutting my friends lists, or having shorter blog posts, everything is okay. I am just working some shit out.

My job is attached to a computer.
I don’t want my life to be.


Join the Conversation


  1. I was online a lot when all I had was the computer. Now that I use a smartphone, it really has become compulsive. But I look around and see that it seems compulsive for everyone! Funny how so much so-called “connection” actually keeps us feeling empty and unconnected.

    Clearly, you need to write to express who you are without worrying about being off-putting to your photography clients. Your best posts have always been the ones where the real you and your real struggles shine through. I think it sounds like you need two separate blogs

  2. I live a very isolated life- partly by choice- I really don’t like most of the people in the town where I live. We struggle with money, so I can’t do the things I want to do with others, I don’t have a work visa, so I don’t have people I work with. So to me, the Internet is my window on the world. I keep in contact with friends and family that way. I have my acquaintances; people like you, who I like to check in with now and again. I have my blog, which is my way to share with the outside world, my art, my craft, my kids with their family who are all on the other side of the world. I have an etsy page to try to make some money to justify my existence, and I reluctantly have a Facebook page to keep in contact with people all over the world. Many people use fb as their only means of communication, which drives me nuts, as I only check it now and again, although I constantly feel I should be promoting my art work on there. I have a routine of checking my fav blogs in the morning, just as I check the newspaper headlines. I don’t feel controlled by these things, but I know that if I got serious about trying to turn my art into a business I would be. And maybe that’s part of what holds me back… Good post, Tara.

  3. I wish I had read this yesterday. I left for work and hadn’t posted. And I left the house frustrated and nearly in tears as a result. I’ve only been blogging 3 months and feared I was screwing it up. Instead of focusing on living life and building up my family, I was more concerned with not displeasing some followers who for the most part are complete strangers. I didn’t survive cancer to add more crap to the daily to do list. I survived to live life. And on that note, I’m linking to this and then getting the hell off of my computer. Cheers and blessings for an awesome weekend.

  4. So well said. This is part of the reason I don’t have a smart phone, it drives me batty to hear people saying that they NEED one. I absolutely do not want to be reachable/connected at all times, heck I barely remember to turn my phone on, and the battery always dies before I remember to charge it. That said I am about to enter the information edge with internet on my phone because we are moving house and I don’t know when we’ll be connected again. I love the internet and social media, like you and others said it was and is my connection to the outside world. But balance is important, and I think a lot of us struggle with finding that balance. The important thing is that we realise we need to find it and we are working towards that.

  5. I can’t read 154 comments before commenting myself so my apologies if I repeat what someone else has said ;) Basically, you said it yourself, you need ‘balance’. Only allow yourself to check social media at certain times of the day.

    In other words, allow say an hour in the morning, 30 mins at lunch and maybe an hour in the evening. You’ll feel more in control, and that’s what I suspect is worrying you now, you feel it’s controlling you. x

  6. Yup. I spend quite a bit of my time alone at home and my best friends live ridiculously far away, so I really enjoy the interactions I have with people online. I am trying to make sure I get out more too, though, and make connections in person too. Balance. Necessary, but so tricky.

  7. I agree 100%, but try to stay positive especially because of my older kids. I know they don’t question the medium as much, and I suspect it’s because it’s so pervasive in their time. I think we all have to find out what works for us and our age, and sometimes that’s messy. And teach them and remember ourselves, how full and deep and satisfying it is being WITH, IN PERSON, the people in our lives. Slower and real in a good way, even when it’s not going our way.

    I wish there was more honesty online. Sometimes what’s left just seems like one big social symptom that you want to run away from. Sometimes it seems like the chutzpah or whatever that we have to muster to keep sharing online is isolating in itself.

    Anyway, I appreciate the honesty in this post! I hope you find the life and involvement you are looking for!

  8. Hi Tara-

    I’ve recently just found you have started reading your blog/tweets and i like you a lot. Something in this post really made me want to reach out to you and tell you that i think you should NOT appeal to the masses. The masses are overrated, the masses are dumb, the masses are laaaame. I don’t think it’s productive to try and win over everyone because in doing so you’re not honestly expressing who you are; you’re filtering.

    i think the more you put yourself out there in the most honest way you will appeal to a certain niche; you will appeal to more people similar to you. AND wouldn’t you rather work with people who are similar to you and really appreciate the honest you? this may sound silly, but there are not a lot of photographers that i follow that would use a curse word in a blog post *gasp!*or retweet Megan Amram, that was awesome!

    suffice to say, i think you’re great, don’t filter yourself… and eff the masses.

  9. Surfing the internet makes the brain very happy. Those snippets of text and images are like M&Ms. We can become more aware, but be kind to yourselves; we are against a powerful force.

  10. I totally understand/hear your heart here, Tara. I have a personal blog for my random musings and a just keep photos (and minimal talk on my professional blog). I do however think that my clients don’t really get to see/hear my heart by doing this but I wasn’t sure how to mesh the two worlds. I don’t think I’ve done a great job. As a reader/admirer I love your blog and would hate to see anything change, but I understand completely if you feel like something needs to. Hugs and thank you for sharing. xo Molly

  11. Wow! I’m so glad I stumbled on this today. Yours is the only blog I really check in with on any kind of a regular basis. I just like the way you think. I dumped FB and Twitter months ago…don’t miss em a bit. I’d like to weed out a few other things as well. Anyway, best advice I can give on the subject is to spend a little alone time with mother nature. She always seems to help me find the right answers. Love you Tara.

  12. Yes, yes, yes…. I waste so much time reading shallow, insignificant posts. Two of my closest friends are not online anywhere and I am so glad. So glad that I have to pick up the phone or see them face to face to connect. I would hate to have our friendships reduced to facebook posts. But your realness shines through in your writing and photography. For those of us who are online, you are a breath of fresh, clean, sparkling air!

  13. Wow…Thank you. I haven’t read a blog in over a year i believe. Everything you said I*Totally* GET! I know for a fact I have more time on my hands when I stay away from my Mac and pay attention to my real life. Stacy Benintendi’s sister says THANK YOU for reading my mind!

    Take care…I’m sure you’re doing fine. :)


  14. I completely understand Tara and support you 100% in whatever decision you need to make! Even though I am one of those people who you don’t really know… in real life… I always count on you to “keep it real”! I read something the other day that was pretty much saying… just b/c something has worked for a long time doesn’t mean it is working for you NOW… don’t be afraid to change your mind/change course/start a new path… even if others don’t understand your decision. I have faith that you will find what balance is right for you.

  15. hmmm. so interesting that i stumbled upon your post.
    i too have been thinking about this A LOT! i just don’t like social media. i can’t help it. i tried. but i just don’t.
    i feel like i need a facebook page but it would be one more distraction and one more time suck. i have a blog that i don’t make entries to. again…distraction, time suck. i love taking photos and yet i find myself wondering if maybe this business just isn’t for me because i just can’t make myself do the things that everyone is doing.
    i say go with your gut. be honest and be you. i think computers take us away from living life and it’s just all too precious and fleeting to let that happen. i’m a single mom with a 12 and 16 year old — believe me, it goes FAST!!!
    i certainly don’t have the answers but i so share in your feelings.
    good luck.
    and your work is beautiful, by the way:)

  16. Oh my. I’ve read this post many times. Because for some reason, it unhinges me in a good way. It makes me think about our generation, locked into our computers, looking for an answer to everything but finding no satisfaction. I love your blog Tara but I would truly understand it if you decided to stop. And decided instead to enjoy the freedom of just experiencing life without having to relate it to the people you have never met. In a filtered version. When I allow myself a break, it’s always like a calm comes over me and I start feeling again, with all my senses and loving more, in the now. Thank-you for helping me to see this.

  17. i just wanted you to know that i’m inspired by your intelligently written words. As a start-up professional photographer trying to take my work to the next level, the new blog, all the new things I have to learn in photoshop, it sometimes brings me to tears in frustration. All the way with all this I’ve found some fabulous blogs that I just can’t get enough of. I want to figure out this whole social media aspect of photography. But I must say it’s preventing me from being there for my family like I was before. Not to mention the fact that i’d really like to have more time to take more pictures…Hello, thats the idea. I guess I just want to say thank you for writing because it really got me thinking…i gotta work some shit out to.

    Im too tired to proof this so I hope it makes sense. Take care! Youre great

  18. This rings all too true. What am I going to look back on my life and wish I had done more of? Guaranteed, not screen time. Sometimes I feel like it’s an addiction..the constant check of updates..and to what end? I need to check myself and clean up some messes so I can be a better mom, wife and person. Thanks for reminding all of us. (When are we going to meet?!)

  19. this has made an impact on me, but maybe not for the same reasons you would believe. i have felt like i have lost the passion, drive, and personality in my blog and it just becomes a place to post pictures from sessions. how will brides, families, and seniors know who i am, or how i work if i dont invite them into my life? your blog really makes me feel inspired and sometimes i even feel like i am in the car next to you shooting the shit with you… and that is my dream for my blog readers. therefore, today begins a renewed spirit with blogging and photography and i have you to thank. thank you tara.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.