Eliminate More Distractions

Consume A Mostly Plant Based Diet (again)

About three years ago, I had an entire year where I ate meat maybe five times and consumed dairy a little more than that. I’ll spare you, along with myself, the political or social arguments -not because they aren’t important, I’m just not sure they’re motivating for me right now. There are too many things going on in the world to worry about and I can’t give a shit about all of them at the same time. Instead, I’ll argue that I felt fantastic. It eliminated some distractions from my life. I slept better. I felt energetic. I’d go to a supermarket or out to eat, and that diet would rule out a lot of options that were unhealthy anyway. This practice saved time and freed up space in my brain to think about other things. I’ll throw in drink more water and exercise daily ‘cause… ‘cause this is a post about new year’s resolutions so I’m obligated to.

Go mostly straightedge

Drinking is fun, as are other things that I won’t mention here because I would never do anything against the law, but I’ve heard.. I’ve heard, there are things people other than me do for recreation that are legal in some states but still against federal law but won’t mention here because I would never do anything against the law that people other than me do for fun.

But.

They’re time consuming and you may not notice that ‘till you stop. So back to the drinking, which isn’t against the law, which I do occasionally do, I can go months at a time without drinking, so I’ll do that again. It isn’t just the time spent drinking itself, it’s also the the money spent on it, and the lower energy level for the next day or two, as well as alcohol’s effects on mental clarity that cost time. The older I get the more valuable time becomes. I just think lately stuff like this isn’t the best use of my time.

Regarding Media Use and Consumption

It felt like in the early -earlier? In the earlier days of the internet before seemingly everyone was on it, there was a rigid line between the things that were participatory, like messageboards or social media in it’s earlier days, and things that were not, like newspapers, television, and movies. As that line has blurred, my media consumption and use habits have gone from unhealthy, to healthy, and back to unhealthy several times. Some of this is my own fault and some of it is Silicon Valley’s.

One example of the way in which that line had blurred is news. I have a digital subscription to the New York Times, and not very long ago, when I would open up the app the first thing I would see said “top stories”, I’d have to click on a couple of things to skip over that and get to today’s paper. This bothered me a bit and still does because if I’m consuming the kind of media we call news, the first thing I should see is today’s paper, or, in other words, this thing we call news.

This situation has gotten worse in that they’ve recently introduced another tab feature you immediately are confronted with called “for you”, news tailored to your interests. I’m fine with these features existing, but they should take a backseat to today’s paper, or, what word am I thinking of again? News. News isn’t supposed to be what I want it to be, news is supposed to be news. Thankfully today’s paper at most major newspapers is still mostly dryly written hard news.

I understand that there are all kinds of incentives for the format and/or layout of news media to change based on feedback, hell, I don’t even think they’re incentives anymore. I think they have to do these things in order to stay alive. And this is one of a seemingly infinite number of ways all of our media landscape is changing, and doing so rapidly.

The internet is filled with essays*, documentaries*, classes*, and all kinds of, well, media on this stuff and I could write all day about it. Are we reshaping the traditional media landscape, or are Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg? What about Newscorp and Viacom? Condé Nast and Hearst? What about their shareholders? What motivates them? Where does our feedback come into play? What are data scientists doing with our stuff? And what in the fuck is a TikTok?

(*see also Jaron Lanier, Marshall McLuhan, John and Hank Green, Jay Smooth, and Anil Dash for starters. Check out The Great Hack on Netflix)

What was motivating your posts or writing ten years ago? What’s motivating them today? Who knows more about you? Your psychiatrist, your significant other, or a data scientist who works for a social media company? Is Social Media just Surveillance Capitalism? When did social media become surveillance capitalism? How come every time I log on to social media I feel like I’m being nudged? Maybe those feedback buttons were the beginning of the end. Before they existed, the feeds there felt chronological or neutral. Will there ever be a sense of feed neutrality again? How has a non-neutral feed influenced my writing? How does youtube’s recommendation engine influence people? What about google’s personalized search results.

This stuff is deserving of it’s own post or collection of posts, but I think the prefacing was necessary for resolution motivation purposes… But in the interest of keeping within the scope of this blog entry’s title, here are some habits I’ve already been cultivating that I will continue to cultivate in 2020 and beyond:

Communicate Better, Express Myself Better, Listen More.

Facebook is too big a part of my life for me to eliminate it altogether at the moment. I got friends and family all over the world to keep in touch with there, and there are public figures I follow that I’m able to enjoy their more intimate writings that I couldn’t currently find elsewhere as well as their professionally published material. What I can do, is pay more attention to how I spend my time and how I communicate with others. There’s rarely a reason to hit a feedback (or “like”) button. If I have something to add or converse about, I can do that in complete sentences, and if I don’t have the time for complete sentences, do I really have the time at all? Probably not. I know those buttons are an unhealthy motivation for my own writing, if they were, I’d have put one on this site… What’s the rub? if they were, I’d have never started this site, or written any of this. There’d be some bastardized version of it appearing on facebook sans italics and headings and whatever else I want to put here that could better express what I’m trying to communicate. For instance, this blog is laid out to look like an old school… late 90s or early 00s blog. That’s deliberate, and my writing this on someone else’s site like Twitter or Facebook, or even Medium or Tumblr, won’t come across that way. I think everyone should express themselves better, and I’m going to practice what I preach. I’m going to express myself more here.