FOMO

A couple of days ago I did the unthinkable. I deleted a social media account.

You will probably know that I recently deleted my Facebook pages for this blog and The Pukeko Patch. I thought that was a pretty decent first step in my self-styled “slow retreat” from the increasingly unpleasant world that this section of the internet has become. But I wasn’t feeling the same bravery around my own personal social media accounts. There was a lingering sensation of FOMO.

If there was ever an acronym that should be considered an onomatopoeia word, then FOMO is it. I’m sure it’s the scratchy little sound that comes unbidden from the back of your throat as your finger wavers side to side over your keyboard just before the final plunge to hit “DELETE”.
The fight between your thinking brain and your fear of being ‘an outsider’ concludes with a little whimpering sound….

FOmo……

And then the deed is done. In the press of a button it’s over.

Well, in fairness, I have thirty days to recant and all will be well in my little corner of the Twittersphere but I have no intention to do so. In a remarkable turn of events I was able to ditch the social media platform I probably spent the most time on, Twitter, with very little trauma and only the tiniest, scratchy FOmo… sound.
For me the hard #SMexit will be the deletion of Facebook.
Yes, I did just make up a hashtag for this process.

So what prompted this act of unwarranted bravery?
Well, an episode of Alan Alda’s Clear+Vivid podcast is the culprit.
I’ve been dipping in to it on occasion and enjoying it. On last week’s show Alan was interviewing Jaron Lanier who is a founding father of the realm of virtual reality, and sounds quite the character in addition to that.

As part of their conversation they spoke about Lanier’s new book, “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now“.
Here’s a link to his webpage relating to it. The cover of the book succinctly sums up the ten arguments. I found most, if not all, of them are accurate in my experience.
It was while listening to that conversation and weighing up some of their comments with my own observations that I came to the conclusion that it was time to gain back some of my life.
– Infinite scroll anyone?!?
And some of my hope for humanity.
– No more reading comments from bots or real, but vitriolic, people with no empathy can only improve my mental health!

My next challenge is to do the same with Facebook. I have some ideas about how I’m going to go about it, so I’m ever hopeful that I will vanquish the biggest of my SMexit foes. I just need to work up a bit more courage and do it.

Wish me luck!


More reading / watching: How we need to remake the internet

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2019 Word Theme

Around this time last year I decided to do a Happier Podcast “try this at home” tip. That tip was to choose a one word theme for the year. My 2018 word was Balance.

It was meant as a reminder and a goal for the year but that didn’t pan out so well. My year was really quite unbalanced, as was my life in general. But that’s life, isn’t it? A box of chocolates where sometimes you get the gooey centres and sometimes the hard nuts. And you just have to hope that you don’t break a tooth.
I don’t consider it a failure though. Balance was always on my mind. It just took me most of the year to figure out how and what I was going to do in order to get some balance back. And it’s taken even longer to get that plan up and running. That’s the other thing about life – some things you have control over, other things you have to let run their course.

This brings me to my choice for 2019.

Drumroll please…

My theme for 2019 is “Mindful”.

It’s a pretty self-explanatory word, but here’s what it means to me in this context.
I want to make more thoughtful decisions in my life. I want to pay far more attention to everyday things in my life. I don’t want to drift, spin or fritter away my life on autopilot. I want to be more appreciative of my life, while actively crafting what my life will look like.

I’ve realised that I have slipped into patterns of behaving, thinking, doing and saying things that are largely unchosen. Once upon a time I would have decided that they were fitting for me, but not recently and not by the person I currently am. Let me provide you with a gratuitous analogy.

Imagine, if you will, a person who continues to wear their favourite knitted outfit from the 1970s throughout their life.
<< Shudder >>
It could be a totally unconscious decision. They liked that poncho when they bought it. They looked trendy and gorgeous. It still fits. It still keeps them warm, so why change it?
Then a friend who loves them drops some badly needed fashion advice, or they suddenly notice what they look like in the latest family picture – stuck in the 1970s while the rest of the family looks normal.
This is the point where they realise that hanging on to their earlier choices is not so great. It’s time to review, revise and kick out any 1970s nonsense and bring their wardrobe up to date.

This is what 2019 is for me, metaphorically speaking.
Out with the old, unconscious choices, and in with more awareness and mindfulness.
It’s time to “Mind the Gap” – the gap between where I’ve drifted to and where I actually want to be.

How about you? Do you choose a one word theme for your year? If so, what did you choose for this year?


For those crazy enough, here’s a link to some examples of those metaphorical 1970s knitwear items.
Fair warning: you cannot unsee what you are about to look at.

Dedicate

I haven’t been taking enough care of myself this year, despite having chosen “Balance” as my word theme. It took until very late in the year to find a way to gain outer accountability for this obliger, but I finally got there. Along the way I took an Obliger Vacation that looked a bit like rebellion at the time, and a lot more like it as time went on.

So today I decided to give myself a final gift of self-care for 2018.

From the start of January I’ll be making an effort to spend the full month taking time out to do yoga every day.
I’m no yogi so I’ll be following along with Adriene from Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She is doing a month long series called ‘Dedicate’.
It’s my attempt to nudge myself towards more self-care and further away from imbalance – literally and figuratively.

If you think you would enjoy doing this too I’ve added a link to the invitation on the image below. And if you would like to chat with me about it as we go along, you can always join the newly created Oh Waily Waily Discord server*.

In the meantime, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Holidays. I hope you enjoy time with family and friends, as well as taking time out for yourself too.

And I will see you all next year!


*if you already use Discord just drop me a comment asking for the invite link and I will email it to your comment email address. If you aren’t familiar with Discord but would like to know more this article from Lifewire is a good rundown.

Retreat

Unlike !

It has finally happened.

I have removed Oh Waily Waily from Facebook. In fact, I’ve removed both of my personal blogs’ Facebook pages and have reduced my time online there altogether.
It’s long overdue and part of my gradual retreat from the behemoth of social media.
In truth, if I could remove myself entirely I would. Sadly it is the ‘go to’ place for ease of community building and there are a couple of communities that I still value more than my full retreat.

As I continue to reduce my time on social media I’ve come to realise that there are plenty of things I won’t miss.

I won’t miss the Friends List, most of whom didn’t interact with me or I with them. This is not meant as a slight to those on the list, but simply an acknowledgement that time doesn’t stand still. We may have been mates back in the day but rarely, if ever, see each other in real life or even chat online. Over time I found the Friends List became an obligation to live in the past for fear of offending people with the dreaded “unfriend” button. Then one day I had an epiphany… these people pretty much never comment on or like my few remaining posts and there’s a good chance that I am buried in their 500 friends and will never be missed should I quietly disappear. So I chose to disappear.

Ooo, I’m such a rebel !

Now my remaining Friends List consists mostly of old friends who live overseas, family who live overseas or folk that I still hear from. But I’ve finally decided to ditch the unfriend guilt and continue a regular cull of the remaining list members until eventually it really is down to those for whom this is the best or sole way of keeping in touch.

Another thing I won’t miss is the banality of Facebook posts. I like a good meme as much as the next person, I really do, but my timeline has become almost nothing but memes, Year in Review and “Memories” posts. Once I had installed a browser extension to rid me of the stalking posts and promotional posts it really showed me what was going on, and the memes and memories were pretty much it. There are one or two friends who liven it up with personal, humorous and real life stories, but they are an extreme rarity.
I don’t blame any of my friends for this, it’s what the platform encourages and I am as guilty of it as anyone else. My friends aren’t my entertainment committee, although Jane Austen may have been correct:

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

So perhaps I should cut the platform some slack on that front.

What I will miss is the ability to quickly and easily post something I think would interest others. Things that I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing a blog post about.
But then, I won’t miss the ease of quick posts and dropping links, which I have come to realise has slowly eroded my motivation for thinking and writing blog posts over the past few years. This hasn’t sat well with me.
In real life I’m not really interested in small talk as I’d rather have a meaty chat about the state of the world, the random stupidity and genius of the people who populate it, and what makes up a meaningful life.
Susan Cain describes this really well in the quote below, although it’s overstating my preference for interesting discussions to say I have ‘a horror of small talk’.

Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.

Susan Cain, ¬†Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Although I may also be overstating the idea that I “listen more than I talk” as some of you who have known me a long time in real life* can attest to.

So here we are, retreating back to the blog. Retreating back to the quiet of my thoughts, a blank screen and a keyboard.
Not a meme in sight.

Hopefully we can have some deep discussions together.


*does anyone remember Mr Edmonds from Primary School? About the only thing I recall about him now is the fact that he got me to shut up in class one day by nicknaming me “Parrot”. Not a kind thing to do, in hindsight, but quite probably an accurate representation of my talkativeness.