On breaking up with my phone – week three

Life

I am on week three of this experiment and I have a lot of random thoughts about it. I will share them here.

I have reached a point where I can leave a room and not have my phone attached to me. In fact, I have ditched my phone as an alarm clock and I keep it in another room at night to charge. Since I’ve done this I have slept better.

In general I am feeling happier and more at peace. I also feel more resilient. Before I started this, for awhile I’d lost my desire to do things that I like to do.  I didn’t really think it was depression. It was just a general sense of ennui. That is starting to lift and I’m finding my interest in things coming back.

The thing that I’ve liked about this program is that I don’t have to cut social media entirely out of my life. This has been really nice because I like checking in on what my friends on FB/IG/Twitter are up to. But it feels easier to place boundaries on it when I’m only doing it on my PC and not my phone. Though, I do feel like I could work on limiting my Social media visits even more. I’d like to limit my FB and Twitter visits to once a day or less.

The only two apps that I’ve deleted from my phone that I miss are Instagram and Strava. When this whole thing is over, I will reinstall IG, but maybe only focus on my photography account for awhile before diving into my personal account. Strava is nice because it gave me useful running stats that I’m missing. I don’t miss Facebook or Twitter or any of the others.

I decided on some ground rules for using my phone (and this comes directly from the book). I am not going to use my phone when I’m around other people. If I’m hanging out with another person, my task is to hang out and enjoy the company of the other person. If I am going to check my Instagram feed I’m going to set aside some time when I can look through it and enjoy it. Multitasking never worked for me. Also: no phone at the table while I’m eating!!

Yesterday I was working at the Mt Hood Farmer’s Market, representing the library booth. I didn’t have much to do except greet people coming and going. So I did a lot of people watching and I noticed the people in the other booths had their faces buried in their phones. Then later on when I was at the grocery store I noticed  that two kids  were wandering around the store staring into the phone. I’m totally not writing this to be judgmental because I am one of these people, I think we all are. It just struck me as odd yesterday when I noticed it.  There is this world happening right here, how on earth can  the phone be more interesting than what is going on out here in the real world?

I decided to stop using the website Goodreads entirely. A couple of weeks ago I went to edit some of my book information and Amazon was totally in-your-face trying to sell me books. I mean, it wasn’t even subtle. It bugged me. They are comodifying my reading and are so blatant about it. So I’m done. I’ve been keeping track of my reading in my Hobonichi anyway so I don’t really need it. Making this decision, I feel this intense sense of relief. I can just read a book and not share what I’m reading with the world, unless I want to. Wow. It’s weird how that makes me feel so free. I had no idea that the website had that effect on me to begin with until I felt the freedom from it that I do now.

The book is now instructing me to take 24 hours off from all screens. So no texting no email, no computer, no television, etc. So tomorrow after my run (because fuck that, I’m not turning off my music during my run), I’m cutting myself off from the Matrix for 24 hours. I’m kind of excited to see what I accomplish.

A note about the featured image: Almost exactly a year ago today I went on an unintended technology break when my phone’s battery died while camping. I spent 24 hours away from a screen of any kind. It was fucking fantastic. I took the featured (pinhole) photo during that time and I had to guess as to what I thought the exposure time should be. I think it turned out just fine without having to using the Pinhole Assist app!

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On Breaking Up With My Phone

Life

On a whim I picked up the book “How To Break Up With Your Phone.” It was on the new book shelf at the library and I thought I’d thumb through it just for laughs. It turns out, the book is really good.  As I read through the first half of the book I slowly realized that I am, indeed, addicted to my phone (as most everyone probably is these days). I decided I’d give the author’s 30 day plan to “break up with your phone” a try. Let’s just call it an experiment. To see what happens. To see how it affects my mental state and general mood.

I am on day 8 today and I already feel like a new person.

About 3 days in she instructs her readers to delete all social media from the phone. Don’t even think twice, just delete.

You know how when you pull a band-aid off and you know it’s best to just yank it off as fast as you can and it stings badly for a few moments but then it’s all fine? That’s how it felt the first day I deleted everything. I felt this moment of panic and then a sense of emptiness and then I realized that I would be OK. Deleting social media from my phone didn’t kill me.

She doesn’t say to, necessarily, delete social media from your life. Just delete it from you phone. So I’ve been checking in on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter a couple of times a day from my PC.

I also downloaded an app that monitors how much time I spend on my phone and can figure out how many minutes/hours I’ve spent on specific apps. The app is called Moment for those interested. The day I installed the app it stated I had spent 4 hours on my phone that day! And that was just from “momentarily” checking social media to fill in the empty spaces during the day. Four hours!

So now I have a 4 hour void to fill every day. It’s kind of nice! To start, I’ve been catching up on things I’ve neglected, like editing photos, and blogging. I actually read for an hour everyday last week. I organized my closet and books yesterday.

But I think the best thing so far is that I feel so much better mentally! As the book states, when we scroll through our endless feeds we experience a plethora of emotions as we see posts from different people. As a one of those Highly Sensitive types, this was making me insane. Today I feel less insane.

 

On Twitter and The Moment.

Random

My husband sent me a link to an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times, written in 2010, about Twitter and how it affects us and the way we interact with the world around us. There were many questions raised in the article. Raf was interested in the idea that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media encourages the commodification of self. My reading of the article touched on some thoughts I have had recently about social media: this idea that it takes us out of the present moment and causes us to experience that moment differently.

Orenstein makes an interesting observation that would seem to indicate that the act of tweeting a moment makes it clearer:

Distilling my personality provided surprising focus, making me feel stripped to my essence. It forced me, for instance, to pinpoint the dominant feeling as I sat outside with my daughter listening to E.B. White. Was it my joy at being a mother? Nostalgia for my own childhood summers? The pleasures of listening to the author’s quirky, underinflected voice? Each put a different spin on the occasion, of who I was within it.

However, she goes on to question that this distillation was less about her observation of the moment and more about how she wants others to react to her moment. Interesting thought. Do we  build a facade with each tweet or Facebook status update? I think we do. Some of us more than others. And we all build that facade in different ways. For example, I get a little bit irritated by my friends who post a laundry list of all of the fabulous things they did that weekend. Because of this I try to “be more authentic” in my updates by posting both the good and the bad. But I am just as guilty as anyone else because my carefully constructed facade is about me “wanting to appear more authentic” than those who want to “appear to have fabulous lives.”

Then there is this idea that social media takes us out of the present moment. It has been something I have thought about  a lot. The other day I was scanning my Instagram feed and saw a photo that a friend took of lunch out with a group of girlfriends. Two of her friends had their eyes glued to their smart phones. It made me think about myself and how often I do that very thing when I am hanging out with my own friends or my husband. Looking at this photo made me realize how this act of checking our phones to see what is happening on a website is kind of ridiculous. There is a person, a flesh and blood person,  standing in front of me, interacting with me and I am looking at a machine so that I can connect with other people who are elsewhere.

This is not to say that the friends I have made online are very important to me and the time that I spend interacting with them online is important to me, as well. I have had some of my favorite moments interacting with my friends online. Everyday I am amazed at the the world we live in and that I can have these interactions with people from all over the world. It’s pretty fantastic and great.

However, there has to be some kind of balance. I shouldn’t sacrifice the moments I have with those in front of me for moments I have with my friends online.

Exhausted museum vistors When I went to Paris I couldn’t figure out how to make my phone work overseas. It was very frustrating because this meant my GPS didn’t work either. We spent a few moments wandering the streets not really knowing where we were going (we found an old-school street map as soon as we could). In the end, however, I am very glad I was cut off from social media there, at least during the day (we had wi-fi access at our hotel). I was prevented from tweeting every single thought in my head. Instead I was riveted to every moment I experienced there. This was a new and faraway place and I am not sure I will ever be able to go back. I knew this while I was there and so I made the most out of all of it. Everything I did there was totally in the moment. I experienced the crap out of Paris. I remember everything with clarity. If my smart phone was working and tempting me to tweet these moments, would I still have this same clarity? I don’t think I would.

Thoughts on Facebook

Thoughts and Opinions

It seems like every few months I go through a period of time where I want to cut myself from the tether that is  Facebook.  Today is one of those days. I have a love/hate relationship with the social media website. Well, love might be too strong a word. Maybe it’s more like tolerate/hate. On the one hand, I really like how it connects us to each other. I love some of the conversations I have had on there. I love that I can connect with my nieces and nephews and brothers and sister and friends and acquaintances.  I love connecting and interacting with people.

However, lately I have logged onto Facebook and have felt bad after my session. Why is this? I guess, if I were being honest with myself, I would say that this is probably some kind of reflection of myself. Facebook is just a website. It can’t make me feel bad. It’s an inanimate object. I determine my feelings.

This is a nice thought.  However, I can’t deny the feelings I get sometimes when I log on. I am not alone, according to a Stanford study.

How does Facebook make me feel? Inadequate. Invisible. These feelings cause me to overcompensate by feeling the need to overshare. Then I look at this reflection of myself  and I dislike it very much. Self-loathing.

I don’t like the facade, the fake person, we create in order to look good to others. I wonder if this is just human nature but in real life it is easier for us to see through because there is body language and other, non-verbal ways of communication. It’s just easier to see through all of it in person.

I kind of want to just let it all hang out on Facebook. Instead of writing about all of the awesome things I am doing I want to post every mundane, boring thing I do. I want to talk about how crappy my day was. I want to talk about how, instead of going running like I planned to do, I was lazy and read my book instead. I want to be the totally imperfect person that I really am. Not the fake Facebook facade that I have created.

I am trying to reconcile my feelings. I wrote most of this post yesterday when I was feeling down. Today I am feeling better. Obviously those negative feelings are there in the undercurrent and they surface on those bad days. I want to take a look at them and figure them out.

I would really like to hear your thoughts. How do you feel about Facebook?  Do you like it? Hate it? Are  you one of those who has deleted your account? If so, why? What made you cut the thread?

Google+: initial thoughts, reactions, and a rant.

Thoughts and Opinions
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been on Google+ now for a week and have some opinions about it.  I will refrain from posting anything about Google+ on Facebook and Twitter anymore because I kind of feel like there is lukewarm reception to it. However, I do have some opinions and since this is my little corner of the intertubes I thought I’d post them here in case anyone was interested in my opinion.

So far I really like it. I am liking it a billion times more than Facebook. I am not sure if I like it better than Twitter yet.

I will come clean and say that I hate Facebook. I hate it with a fiery passion and I’ve hated it for a very long time. I hate it’s CEO. He is everything I can’t stand in a human being and when I look at his picture I, seriously, want to punch him in the nose. But that’s kind of beside the point. I really have always very much disliked the lack of privacy on Facebook. And Facebook’s attitude is something like, “Privacy doesn’t exist. Deal with it.” I have always disliked that when you post something on Facebook everyone on your friends’ list sees it. Maybe I don’t want my Christian friends seeing my posts about Zen Buddhism, you know? Maybe I don’t want my conservative friends seeing my liberal rants. Maybe I just don’t feel like fighting that battle. Because of this I tend to censor myself on Facebook. And, I don’t know. Maybe that’s o.k. But it’s also kind of boring. I like to let it all hang out sometimes. I like to speak my mind. But I also don’t want to offend other people. So there’s always been that weird dichotomy over there.

There is also this weird “worlds colliding” feature of the Facebook social experiment that has always made me VERY uncomfortable. I don’t know why. But I’ve just never liked it at all. I like having my professional life separate from my personal life.  Call my crazy. I have set the privacy levels so that certain people can’t see my wall, but that isn’t ideal at all. First of all, it excludes people. I don’t like excluding people. Also there are times when I do want those that I’ve excluded to see what I post but there is no easy way to allow them to.

I’ve stayed on Facebook, and will continue to stay on Facebook, because my friends are there. My friends are what make it tolerable and I would really miss them if I jumped ship. (most of)The people on Facebook are awesome. Facebook as a company and social networking site sucks.

So now Google+ has come along and guess what? They address these issues! And it is awesome. It is a breath of fresh air for me. Seriously. I saw the initial video where they introduced the “circles” feature and I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. This is what I’ve wanted from Facebook all along. For awhile I thought FB was going to do this because there is the ability to sort your friends into lists. But the process is so clunky and useless and unusable.

Circles are awesome. Very easy to use. Friends can belong to more than one circle, which is nice. For example, I have a “knitting” circle and a “library world” circle and a few of my friends belong to both as they are both knitters and librarians. I have a “friends” circle where I can post  personal stuff that the rest of the world could care less about.  I can post photos and updates about my knitting projects to my knitting circle and none of my other circles will see the updates.  I can also filter my stream so that I see only the circles I choose which makes the reading experience so much better. I don’t feel like I have to censor myself anymore because I get to choose who reads what updates. AND I get to choose what I read at any given time.

The one complaint that I have with circles is that I wish people would use them more effectively. I have quite a few connections on Google+ now and most of them are people I don’t know. I got hooked into the children’s literature world  which I’m very exicted about as a children’s librarian. It will be a good way to keep up with stuff going on in that industry. However, it is a very tight-knit online community and they are very freindly with each other (kind of like the online knitting community is). Some of my connections post personal things to all of their circles, thinking that everyone that follows them would be interested. However these personal posts really need be relegated to thier “friends” circle to keep from cluttering up the streams of those who are more interested in professional development.

This is a long post. And I kind of have more to say about it. I think I’ll cut it short for now and continue this on another day. There is lots more to say!