I am writing this from my car as I wait for A at dance (jazz).
I am feeling really content right now and excited about the weeks (and year) ahead. As a wise commenter pointed out, people are worth it, so I did book an overpriced flight* and we (the kids + me – Josh is on call!) will get to spend 3 days in Philadelphia around Christmas. I am particularly excited about A/C/G finally getting some quality time with my niece who is almost FOUR!
*Slightly less overpriced because we are flying back Christmas morning. Which is actually perfect, I’ll be back home for our annual ritual of Chinese takeout and relaxing movie night.
Okay, here comes the aforementioned manifesto.
(I do love a good manifesto!)
I wanted to write more about media. And consumption in general. We have so much information flying at us, day and night. There are so many options to choose from every moment of every day.
Some of it is highly polished and edited. Some of it is raw and uncut. Some of it is trying to sell us something. Some of it is just trying to keep our eyeballs glued to a screen. Some of it makes us feel inadequate. Some of it is art. Most of it is decidedly not.
I left Facebook in 2016 because it had an incredibly addictive and magnetic quality for me, and also it tended to make me feel like garbage. Then, Instagram in 2021 because same.
I have been overall so much happier without these sources of media in my life. I truly do not miss them at all. I enjoy reading blogs (I uses feedly which still works well for me), listening to podcasts, watching (occasional) YouTube, reading magazines and books (on paper, 95% of the time). I like movies and TV and wish I watched more of each of them!
Two sources of garbage screen time do remain in my life. If I printed out all of the media I read in this format, it would make a sizable stack. Neither approach the problematic scale of IG or FB. But I am decidedly better off without them on my phone.
#1: REDDIT. I almost never post on Reddit. But — over the past year or so — I have at times started to become a bit of a lurker. I mostly read: r/advancedrunning, r/hobonichi, and sometimes (ugh): r/blogsnark. Seriously, it’s all bad. Well, maybe except for r/hobonichi. But I don’t trust myself to get on and NOT check out other subs. SO I am logging out for good. And I’m starting now — waiting until January 1st seems silly. (I was about to give myself a loophole but I cannot think of one truly useful thing I learned form reddit so no. No loopholes. Not needed.)
#2: EMAIL. This is trickier. There are absolutely times that it’s helpful to have email on one’s phone. I don’t really want to delete it entirely. I actually don’t use the “MAIL” app, but I have gmail as an installed app. But I absolutely have a slot machine-like relationship with my email. I check it for a POSSIBLE mood boost. And I will do this incessantly when I am in certain moods. I always think the answer is to only have specific “check times” so I think this is what I will work on over the next few weeks with the idea of installing official times as habit in 2024. I also need to check WhatsApp periodically (school threads, sports team threads, BLP-related groups). I don’t find WhatsApp addicting but for me it makes sense to bundle it with email checks.
Thinking: once early AM / once around lunchtime / once mid-afternoon / once in evening (and none after 8 pm). Would I miss much?
What is the point of this?
I have put so much thought into my digital life (I curated the Digital Detox! Which was great, but all of us – myself included – agreed that it was really challenging to figure out where to place these kinds of boundaries and what ‘dose’ of tech served us). The reason I care is that . . . well, I am acutely aware that every single minute spent lazily looking at others’ race reports is a minute I am: a) comparing myself to someone else, usually unfavorably and b) not doing something else that could potentially be more worthwhile. I also just feel like there’s so CHATTER, but just because it’s there doesn’t mean I have to listen to it.
Finally, I think there is something to be said for the idea of fast-paced and emotionally charged media making our brains less able to handle the slower more complex stuff. This saddens me!
What would I rather do instead?
Text with someone (yes, on the phone, but I find this a much better use of the screen time) or talk to someone. Read a book. Watch a TV show. Research stuff for upcoming travel or to do around town. Declutter an area (wishful thinking but . . . you never know). File my nails. Be aware of my surroundings. Just freaking SIT THERE for a second.
This was also my motivation to start tracking media consumption. What did I spend my hours listening to? What did I decide was worthy of time and attention? What do I want to share with others (via a blog post etc)? I think being more mindful of what I read / watch / listen to will be interesting and helpful.