You might have noticed that I spent very little time writing here last year. This was a conscious decision on my part to spend more time on things that I felt were priorities, one of the largest of which was the research portion of my PhD.
Since it is a new year, I thought I’d spend some time reflecting on other technology related resolutions that I’ve seen around the web as well as a few of my own.
Selected 2015 Social Media News and Resolutions
In the past few years, dozens of high profile celebrities who decided to quit social media (or who don’t use it in the first place). I think these are helpful reminders of how difficult it is to handle social media.
- Resolved: Follow more people you disagree with – TIME magazine says that most of us just follow little groups of people that parrot our own views.
- Essena O’Neill quits Instagram claiming social media ‘is not real life’ – a beautiful young Austrialian model reveals what it takes to project happiness
- Louis CK quits twitter because it makes him depressed – “It’s too instant, I don’t think the speed helps dialogue”
- Alan Jacob’s Reorientation of Social Writing – As a public thinker and writer, he seems to be taking a step back from responding to everything.
- Non-Social Media Users Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Cover Glamour‘s ‘Social’ Issue – the title says it all on this one. Remember, two of the best comedians around don’t use social media.
- Why we post: the Anthropology of Social Media – A great looking course from University College London that starts February 29, 2016 (Leap Day!)
To me this doesn’t show that social media is inherently evil, but that it’s incredibly hard to moderate even for those who make a living at it. Just as our abundance of food and lack of physical work makes it hard to regulate our bodies, internet news and social media make information and social reaction challenging to regulate. And while I applaud those who make bold decisions to fully quit something, I am personally more inclined to look for small, but important changes I can make that will help bring my life back into balance.
A few resolutions of my own
Rather than start a bunch of things cold turkey on January 1, I started some of my 2016 social media resolutions in late 2015.
Facebook Changes – For the month of December, I decided I would not post anything myself, but I would check Facebook on occasion to like and comment on things from my friends and family. What I found was that I pretty quickly started feeling like I had really hilarious stuff that I wanted to post and see how many people would like it. Instead, I would tell my little jokes to my wife (and occasionally to twitter). I also found that I checked Facebook less often which tells me that a major reason I was checking it before was just to see notifications of responses. By focusing on responding, I was also able to notice when a friend who lost a loved one and respond to them off of Facebook.
Speed and Mindfulness Changes – In 2015, I’ve experimented with some mindfulness practices, using apps like Calm and Headspace to work on exercising my mind’s ability to focus and slow down. Although I’ve been inconsistent at it, I think doing this even intermittently helps me be more patient and less frenetic. I also find that when I do it in the morning before my family wakes up and then follow it with a brief scripture reading, and some daily planning, the day is much smoother.
Phone Changes – As I reflect back on my recent phone usage, what I am most embarrassed about is where I’ve wasted time. Downloading a little game to fill a few spare minutes turned into falling right into the trap of modern game design which is largely based on addictive patterns. I have also watched myself teeter into overconsuming certain feeds of information (Google News, funny meme sites, etc.). I had considered switching to a dumb phone but for now, I’ve attempted reset my phone to be primarily a tool that I use to perform tasks it’s really good at (podcasts in the car, depositing checks in the bank, directions and maps, workouts, air travel, etc.). This means removing any news type apps and avoiding web browsing. Also, I dropped and cracked my phone at Christmas so it’s become a bit more dumb all by itself.
Paper tasks – A common habit among key people I respect is that they have at least one area of their lives where the go more “analog.” Digital calendars are wonderful and powerful, but I know several people who find paper calender much more manageable. I personally have tried dozens of task apps, but I always come back around to sticky notes. At the beginning of each day, I transfer incomplete tasks from the previous day’s stick note to a new sticky note and then keep that on my laptop. Recently, I moved this all to a small moleskin-like notebook which I plan to use more of and use fewer sticky notes. There are lots of great techniques for this (GTD, Bullet Journal, StrikeThru), but I’m not quite disciplined enough to do any of them 100%. However, I do enjoy a walk to our local Starbucks (my phone tells me its 0.32 miles away) taking nothing but the notebook to work through what’s important.
If you have resolutions or small adjustments you find helpful, I’d love to hear them in the comments!