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.

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.

Obligation Vacation

I was listening to episode 71 of the Happier in Hollywood podcast today and they beautifully described the situation I find myself in this past week.

It turns out that I’m on an Obligation Vacation.

To be fair, I rather think I’m in the midst of it’s darker cousin, the Obligation Rebellion.

It’s been a long year in the Oh Waily household and there are still three months to go! Unfortunately I seem to have finally found that point where tiredness, personal expectations, external obligations and reality have all collided and resulted in a mass gathering of tweety birds circling my head.

Truth be told I’m kind of like the human equivalent of Wile E. Coyote at the moment; lots of grand plans that have ended in me hitting the dust.  Repeatedly. And it isn’t pretty.

Unlike Wile E., who displays persistent-to-the-point-of-painful-optimism, I have the ability to tell when reality is saying enough is enough and the time has come to stop ordering things from Acme Corporation.  

For me that time arrived this past week when my brain finally decided, all on it’s subconscious own, to take me on a surprise Obligation Vacation.  I had no idea where we were going and that such a detour might even have a name, until tonight; but I like it.  It suggests a positive outlook and a healthy response to maintaining a balance between obligations and your own sanity.  And it’s definitely more upbeat than Obligation Rebellion which is, truthfully, what overcame me.

For close on a week now I have looked at my rather huge list of obligations and other people’s expectations and have thought, “Nah. Not today. I think I will stare at that blank wall for a while.” 

My rebellious, wall watching holiday has absolutely nothing to do with those folk patiently waiting for me to email, phone, organise or otherwise contribute.  It has everything to do with my tightrope walking act of balancing everyone’s needs, especially my own.  Just like Wile E. Coyote I started out looking and feeling like I’ve got it all under control and then…

Lickety-Splat!

Here I am, on my impromptu rebellion vacation.

And it’s a bittersweet one.  I dislike seeming to be disorganised, rude, uncooperative or otherwise “just not getting the job done”.  It goes strongly against the grain. But, oh the freedom from doing the drudgery !!  I could almost slip in to not Adulting as a full time gig, if it were not for the fact that I am often the only adult in the house.

And that raises the issue of the end of my Obligation Vacation.  There has been another adult in the house during my rebellious vacation – in case you were concerned – but that is soon to change again for a few weeks.  I suspect that my sly and cunning subconscious took the opportunity of another adult being around to sneak in a much needed rest.
Well done Brain, well done.  But next time a bit of warning would be good, or pre-planning at the very least.  I’m not big on unwelcome surprises, as you really ought to know.

That leaves me with the question of how to work Obligation Vacations in to my life rather than have my brain spring them upon me.  It’s one that I will have to take time to ponder.  For now I will remain, mostly, on Vacation. 

At least until Mr Oh Waily’s next trip away.


Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
― Maya Angelou