Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Tag: social media

Why I do not miss Facebook and why just one resolution

It’s been many months since I deactivated my Facebook account. I do not miss it, and as much as I would like to, I cannot delete it fully because there are people I care about who are for now communicating only via Facebook messenger.

The social media rundown

Be as it may, the bad noise is gone. By that I mean the tsunami of fake information and rants spreading like wildfire leading to nowhere but high anxiety, and the countless posts of what should be private information. Oh, and there is also the marketing, incessant and shameless, which I do not miss. That is to say, I do not intend to return. Ever.

This month I am also taking a break from Twitter. Again, the noise can be too much at times. It’s different noise and I like being connected to like-minded people and their worthwhile words and ideas, but breaks are good. They make room for thinking and most importantly, they clear some much-needed space for other pursuits. Or more of the ones we always say we need (more) time for.  

You may be wondering about the other platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn. I am for now set on a weekly post on Instagram and a weekly review of a few informative accounts. Since I am also keeping updated on a few science and self-improvement podcasts, any extra time on the same would mean a higher risk of falling into virtual rabbit holes which there are many. As for LinkedIn, I use it as the name implies: to link/connect with other professionals and/or professional groups.

Yes, our relationship to social media is a complicated one.

Thinking space

One resolution and a few steppingstones

It’s that time again: the yearly opportunity to start on something new (or pick up that dropped self-improvement project) to improve quality of life. I am not much for a laundry list of resolutions because I know it’s easy to get amped up and then drop one too many, but I do like a fresh start towards one or two long-term goals, and I know consistency pays off. So my one resolution is to be consistent on whatever I embark on.

For example: I want to be able to take part in the next polar bear swim (January 1, 2022) so my steppingstone is a daily cold shower (starting at 15 seconds and working towards two minutes). Since I already have a morning routine of breathing and stretching, I can pin this one on. And don’t let the 15 seconds fool you. That’s where math fails: 15 seconds under cold water does not equal 15 seconds of warm water shower. Still, cold water exposure has many virtues, and I will expand on that in a later post.

My next one and the big news I hinted at a couple of posts back is that I will be starting on a new path after spending the last year and a half studying for it. I have become a certified nutritional consultant (CNC) and that means, among others, that a new website with science-based nutrition information will be launched soon and, most importantly, that I can embark on a journey that I long dreamed of: disease prevention through healthy nutrition.

A long-term goal if there ever was one. The steppingstones in this case: reading, writing, and keeping up-to-date with the latest research on nutrition topics I will highlight in regular blog posts.

Credits

My inspiration to work on building good habits comes from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (Penguin Random House, 2018).

My inspiration source for minimizing social media presence is Cal Newport, author of many books on focus and productivity, including Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (Portfolio, 2019).  

The inspiration for embracing the cold showers is provided by Wim Hof, also known as The Ice Man (and that says is all, though he does more than that).

A refreshing book I discovered this past year and enjoyed reading was Ultralearning – Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition and Accelerate Your Career (Illustrated, 2019) by Scott H. Young. Never stop learning!

On that note…

Dogs know

If you have books or people who inspire your journey towards a more balanced life (I know that may mean different things to different people), please feel free to share. Knowledge is delightful, more so when shared.

Here’s to a good year and here’s to being present, curious, and kind. Most of all, grateful.

The Case of Missing Innocence – A Sequel

Last night I attended Jesse Miller‘s talk about kids and social media: the good, the bad and the ugly. As expected, ugly can get uglier with a click and Miller explained how.

The topic is as heavy as it is complicated. The recurring refrain was the one that seems to be the only viable solution, yet somehow the hardest to apply: dialogue. Children love to talk and they have a hefty amount of common sense which gets diluted with time.

If there was ever a time when parents have to hold on to their kids for dear life, I’d say this is it. The ever expansive social experiment of already gargantuan dimensions keeps on growing and the risk of losing ourselves and our children in it grows with it.

Children are barely prepared for life when they make their debut on any social media, that is a fact. Miller emphasized that. Children have the means to understand tech, they have the firing synapses that allow them to understand how the internet works and, thanks to their parents and a killer set of nag-plea-implore-till-you-get strategies, they have access to the latest in smartphone innovation.

But, they miss life experience. And it shows, sooner than expected. That’s where the parents come in. Ideally, through open dialogue that happens regularly rather than when the unthinkable happens, which is why last night’s talk took place to begin with.

Interestingly enough though, many parents commit their children to the unforgiving forces of social media very early on. The perspective offered by Miller was an eye-opener for many I hope. Parents dump folder after folder of family photos on Facebook and Instagram; instances of their children’s life milestones, from the trenches of potty training to the glamour of graduation, and everything in between.

Many children who are now tweens and teens – the high risk category for offending, are becoming offenders or victims – have had a camera pointed at them since they can remember. Miller aptly points to the obvious: What are they going to do when they are given their own device? That’s right: Click and post.

The question that is always left unanswered in my opinion is this: Why do we feel the need to share so much detail with strangers? I am challenged by the notion of friendship of Facebook, I said it before. How did we become comfortable with the idea of sharing life bits? Why do we allow hundreds of people, Facebook friends, Instagram or Twitter followers, peek at our life events while still insisting on pulling the curtains at night?

There were a handful of take home messages last night, such as:

  • Establish some good boundaries that will allow you to set a good example (no touching the phone while driving for example, no phone at the dinner table, and disconnect during family time)
  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of sharing personal details with hordes of strangers (a couple of high school kids in the audience confirmed that many of their peers take photos of their driver’s license and post it online)
  • Everything (or almost everything) that one posts online stays somewhere online. Scary to think about now that so much of your life is out there? That’s the point. Privacy is no longer to be expected.

There wasn’t a lot of talking about the sensible topic of inappropriate ‘selfies’ (the word of the year in 2013, and yes feel free to cringe) which caused an uproar at the South Kamloops Secondary School, but these share the same fate with the rest of things shared: They’ll be somewhere out there long after one wishes they’ll be gone. what’s worse, they become grounds for cyber bullying, shaming and, as seen over the last few years, they can push young people to commit suicide.

A chilling fact shared by Miller last night was the high number of views Amanda Todd’s You Tube video got after she died. In the millions that is. Sadly ironic, she was trying to attract attention to her case so that bullying would stop. It didn’t, until she took her own life.

‘Trending’, another strong social media term, makes no distinction between good and bad. if it gains audience it trends. Children should not be expected to make fair judgment calls about the content they see. Social media where information, questionable or not, piles up like a hundred avalanches a day, will keep being what it is: A repository that may or may not contain your child’s life bits, photos and opinions about life.

That’s why parents need to step in and provide guidance. it’s a learning experience for parents and children, but clumsiness makes both parties endearing to each other rather than resentful, so indulge. let loose, show that you’ve never done the social media thing before but maintain the one thing every parent should: That you know more about life and that puts you not in the friend seat but the parent seat. it’s a privilege and a challenge, and believe it or not, children know it and expect it.

For now, it comes down to this: boundaries and common sense have to be there. They have no expiration date because no matter where you are in life, if you make them your allies, you’ll be on solid ground.

I left the room last night with a lot of questions, and with an enhanced perspective over an issue that has been with me for a long time now.

in 2012, following Amanda Todd’s death, I left Facebook. I did not want to be a bystander. I knew, just like I know today, that children younger then 14 are allowed on Facebook when they should not be and that is akin to allowing them to drive long before they have the skills or maturity to do so. I knew, just like I know today, that in some parts of that virtual space someone is being bullied and someone might just decide to end their life to stop their suffering and the public shaming.

More than a year after that, I made my appearance on Facebook again, with the sole intention of sharing my writing, which, I was told, might just be a shame to miss if the issue is worth sharing.

My personal page though, which I need to have in order to have an author page, has been stripped to almost nothing. I took down the few photos I shared back when I thought Facebook to be a connection tool with faraway family and friends because I find no reason to share life bits like that. Sure it takes effort and time to maintain correspondence with those who matter, but then again, such efforts are nothing but an illustration of our caring for them, and the other way around.

I don’t expect anyone to share my beliefs, and I also fear that pending lack of engagement on the said platform over issues that I write about and I consider important, I might opt out again.

The thing is, there is a lack of strict boundaries that troubles me. One could argue that the plethora of social media platforms makes the denial of one almost insignificant. True. But I would like to take one of the messages from last night’s talk and solidify it: Do as you expect your children to do.

I have an open dialogue with my sons. To a fault, one could say. Yes, that close, and I am nothing but grateful for it. There is nothing we shy away from when it comes to talking and debating. To listening. I want to keep that alive: the openness, and the gratefulness attached to it.

But I also want to set boundaries that I hope will inspire my sons to think that in all the craziness of hurried, privacy-robbed times, our living space maintained enough common sense to spill into their decisions as they grow up.

One could hope.

 

 

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