On Mangoes and Quitting Twitter

Moments ago, Jill asked if we’d been enjoying the bag of mangoes she’d given us last week. I said yes. Nearly eight of them were still in the fridge as I waited for them to ripen before slicing the precious flesh off them and sucking every last bit off the seed.

These beautifully and diversely colored fruits are merely one highlight of South Florida flora and fauna that I’ve fallen in love with. While driving around Pinecrest, it’s easy to spot mango trees, new fruit growing high up in their branches, still purple and green with a whitish sheen. Jill has been scavenging mangoes from a neighbor’s house, in the yard and from their tree. She processes them and packs them neatly into small bags to freeze for year-round consumption. I just greedily eat them, sometimes all to my self, one at a time, cutting delicately around the skin, the sweet juice running all down my chin.

For the first time since I’ve had a smartphone, I’ve nearly used all of my data for the month. This resulted in cheering from Jeff, who laments the fact that I can so frequently be found face down, fingertip to the screen with a furrowed brow, flicking through my Instagram feed or uploading a photo instead of paying attnention to what we’re doing or he’s saying. To a degree, having a smartphone has given me the attention span of a gerbil, too often preoccupied with my digital distraction. But with Verizon’s warning this week, “You’ve nearly exceeded your goddamn limit of data, you cellphone junkie,” I refused to pay overage fees. Little do many folks know there is a feature to turn off data and allow Internet access only with a wireless signal.

With this engaged, I have to walk next door or sit on the often hot bus during the day to pick up Internet. Most of the time, this works swimmingly, especially with a fan. I can better focus on the task at hand, whether writing for personal or work interests, without the omnipresent Facebook or Instagram updates. I’m always surprised at the ease with which I can find words, swirling thorugh my head and coming to the world through my fingertips, hitting each little key on my dirty laptop keyboard that still shows traces of spilled red wine and years of built-up grime. Glamorous, no?

Hands sticky from the mango I just devoured, I walked over to the bus, cell phone in hand, to check my e-mail. Surely someone had contacted me about some of the jobs hanging in limbo from last week. Surely they had, on this gray but bright Monday morning. I connected to the League’s little wireless signal, too weak to make it too far on most days, and checked my email. There, along with a bunch of trash, was yet ANOTHER e-mail from Twitter.

“Laura Jane, these seven Chattanooga companies and 14 internet marketing companies have tweets for YOU!”

When I was working in internet marketing, I think I used to open these e-mails, semi-curious about what was going on in the Twittersphere. Keeping up with Google’s latest updates, breaking news about Facebook search or eye-catching teases to read some SEOmoz article about the latest link blah blah blah was a required part of the job. Of course, along with industry news came funny news stories, Chattanooga bars and restaurant tweets, more articles than you can imagine about productivity and second-to-second updates about that day’s traumatic weather incident/play-by-play presidential speech/photos of food/friend taking a dump. At the end of the day, as many readers and internet marketers can relate, Twitter, just for personal purposes, can be a beast to manage and keep up with. Even keeping a near-steady eye on my unorganized and unruly stream took too much time during business hours, and I usually neglected it on nights and weekends.

Back on the bus, as I scanned the few e-mails I received this morning, I quickly deleted the e-mail from Twitter, it’s attempt to re-engage me in the ever-flowing stream of too much information. Can’t have my click today, Twitter, and can’t even have my open rate, suckers. (Though yes, I do see the irony in dedicating nearly 700 words of drivel to the subject.)

These days, I feel delightfully distant from the non-stop internet world. In fact, I don’t think I’ve signed in to Twitter since leaving my last job. And though my boyfriend detests my interaction with social media and Google maps navigating, I’ve cut back, especially this week by turning off my data. It’s amazing how long your battery will last when you’re not constantly bombarding the home screen for likes on Fbook or Instagram, or checking the weather/email/blog site.

It’s also amazing how much more I appreciate the sticky sweetness of the local mangoes in my fridge, sitting and waiting in a plastic grocery bag. They’re like precious gems that we savor in small pieces, ripening at different times so we’re allowed only one or two every few days. Their soft creamy flesh, sweet fragrance and oddly shaped seeds can’t be captured through a photo on Instagram, a tweet or even a Facebook post. Nor can their slow pace of ripening be measured by a clock; trust me, I’ve eagerly tested a few.

It’s easier to forget about the fruit and be slightly surprised whne I open the door and find a perfectly ripe one waiting for me. No need to check them day in day out, like being caught up by the Twitterspehere, abuzz with a lot of fluff and nothing.

I’d prefer measuring time by mangoes, their seeds piling up high, and the impending end of their season in South Florida drawing near, any day. We relish in each sticky cutting board and knife, each strand of pulp stuck in our teeth, and each sweet treat… all a luxury.

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