Not Really New Year’s Resolutions

I’ve started my year of dedicated reading.  I’ve been enjoying Watership Down by the late Richard Adams. This book had, until now, always eluded my TBR (“To Be Read”) list in spite of it’s standing of a well-loved classic. When the author passed away on Christmas Eve I decided to make that first on my list for 2017.

I’d never really been attracted to novels featuring talking animals. I suppose years of having A.A. Milne read to me as a child, whether or not I liked it, kind of turned me off.  As I’ve grown older I’ve been more variable in my tastes.

At Christmas I had decided to have reading goals for 2017. I had never been attracted to “read as many as you can” type of goals. It seems to me to be more of a stunt than a vehicle for genuinely enjoying literature.

So, for this goal I decided to read a vaguely unspecified number of books (For the benefit of Goodreads I said “12”) but  my goal is mostly to improve my reading habits. My previous “bad habit” was that I would start a book, and whether or not I lost interest, I’d get instantly attracted to starting a new one only a few chapters in. Thus, leading me to have a year of only partially read books.  What’s the fun in that?  I also am not someone who can focus very easily on more than one book at a time.  So this for me, is an adventure in my recreational life.

I will abandon a book, unfinished if I am not enjoying it, though.  That will be my only reason to stop.

So, I have been taking my time since January first, and am 25% of the way through Watership Down. I bought the Kindle version for $5. Which brings me to my next subject in this journal entry, one of the reasons I have chosen e-books over printed books (for the most part), the acquisition of less “stuff”. A journey towards minimalism.

This is also a year of “culling”. Again. Not really a “resolution”, but something I’ve been half-heartedly working on for a while.  Today, I managed to recycle and donate a few bags of things and it is a good feeling.  I have been leaning towards minimalism for a long time. I’ve never felt at home around a giant pile of clutter where I never really “know where it goes”, and as my children have gotten older I’ve gradually been encouraging them, too.

I came across a post in Becoming Minimalist which addresses some of the myths surrounding Minimalism. I agree with the issues raised in that post.  I have no intention of depriving our family of the things that we clearly enjoy, have actual sentimental value for, and or actually use.  But looking around I’ve seen so many items whereby just looking at them makes me exhausted. And yes, I am lazy.  Or am I? I get a lot of energy when taking care of things that mean a lot to me, my knitting, my keyboard, my guitar, but anything extra and I just want to throw it across the room.

My children have actually gone a step ahead of me in the summer. As one of my daughters was getting ready for college and embarking on a new phase of her life, it gave her a chance to reflect on which things she wanted to take with her, keep here at home, and just either pass on to someone else, or throw it out.  She set a very good example and was inspiring to me.   I am looking forward to taking more and more action in having fewer unnecessary things. so I can focus on the possessions that mean more to me.

Happy New Year!


Over a Year Later and Deleting Facebook Account Again.

Over a year ago, I deleted (not just de-activated) my Facebook account. This lasted for six months. Not because I “missed it”, but because personal circumstances (a family member passing away, and my other relative was primarily there) had me re-creating an account for the purpose of re-establishing a connection. This initial connection has over the past year evolved into us actually connecting regularly and often by phone and text. This family member now no longer really uses Facebook anymore and I prefer our established connection, to the initial Facebook one.

Over the course of the past ten months, my increased discomfort has led to me renewing my last year’s “New Year’s Resolution” and purging the platforms which were not serving a valuable purpose for me. The instant gratification and attraction is kind of magnetic. Which I think is Facebook’s design, to make it hard to “quit”.

It’s like a food that looks delicious, then you take a bite, and after your plate is empty, you feel yucky, but you still want to go for seconds, because the initial taste bud reaction was “more-ish”.

Then, the time I have wasted, by my own choice, has left little room for me to get to my books, and my piano practicing. For the next two years I’ve agreed to be the pianist for my church, and I’m intermediate at best, and need to brush up.

I’ve come to realize that moving on from the past is healthy and a normal process of life. The structure of social networks like Facebook tends to discourage that process. I grew up in the pre-internet days, where, when I moved away, or a friend moved away, we’d remember them, but our contact would diminish over time as they settled into their new life in their new surroundings. It is a healthy and adult growing up process that people drift in and out of our lives. It’s also healthy to get away from the middle-school mentality of peer pressure and manipulation.

Even over the past year, my initial reasons for wanting to opt out of Facebook are not only still there, but have increased in their intensity. Facebook has been relentless in their efforts to get me to download their “Messenger” app, even sending me boldfaced lie “notifications” as clickbait.

My values have changed. Seriously changed. What passed for entertainment when I was younger now no longer really leaves a good feeling for me. My values are now unrecognizable to even the me of last year.

So after reading a recent Reddit post, (coincidentally, or maybe not so?) about why people have deleted their Facebook account, the memories of why I was initially motivated to delete it last year were re-articulated resoundingly by over 5000 responses all which overlapped my experience, and I decided, it’s time for me to seriously make choices:

The forms of contact which will be embraced, received, and in reasonable time, reciprocated by me are as follows (in order of preference):

  1. Texting – I realize and respect that not everyone has a cell phone. I was a late adopter myself, but now appreciate the directness of a text message and being able to know immediately who it is from, and respond accordingly.
  2. E-mail – Everybody who has a Facebook account clearly has an e-mail address. It’s a no-brainer to add me to their contacts and just send me an e-mail.
  3. Old-fashioned Telephone Call – Anyone who knows me, knows I’m generally not a “chatter” on the telephone, but phone numbers are still a valid form of contact.

The length and detail of this post might leave the reader to assume I think I’m someone important. And, perhaps it’s time I did feel that way. It’s time, after nearly 50 years of doing it “everyone else’s way”, that I had the self-respect to be myself and conduct myself on my terms. “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission” applies here. I now no longer give people that permission.

I like to feel like an individual, and I like treating others as such. When I contact someone, it is for a dedicated purpose, and I’d like to feel the same human contact towards me. I don’t want my individuality diluted in a sea of constant “newsfeed”. I go the extra mile to connect to someone who I am actually thinking about, and I don’t think it’s “entitlement” to expect the same from anybody who seeks to be a part of my sphere of influence.

And I think the “detail” is necessary. Facebook is huge, so huge that it seems to be the default for nearly everyone. I hear people in passing who have just met saying “Add me to Facebook and we’ll keep in touch!” There’s a big wide internet out there, and yet a large percentage of the online population seems parked on Facebook. It’s almost like a person isn’t really “online” until they have a Facebook profile.

So this in a nutshell, is a major change I once again want to make as 2017 approaches.  I plan to use this blog, which I pay for every year and yet let it sit idle, this year, and plan mostly to journal books I read, and piano hymns I am working on learning.


Happy New Year!

My first post from the Android app.

I’m wanting to get more into two things: podcasts and reading.

What better way to re-start these two interests than by listening to a podcast about reading?

On occasion I had watched the Book Riot videos on YouTube,  and listened to some of their podcasts.  So I started up Podcast Addict on my phone (I like this app so much I ended up buying the ad-free version) and discovered that for over 20 episodes they have a newer podcast called All the Books.  The link takes you to their archive so you can download it on any device you wish.

I enjoy listening to them talk about up coming releases and ideas for my ever growing queue of TBR books.  I use my library card for both digital and physical copies. 

I also am thinking of starting a diary for my books.  Nothing fancy, just loose-leaf in a duotang, or a scribbler.  Titles will often pique my interest and then of course life will boldly interrupt my daydreams. I like to keep track of where I first heard of a book,  why I’m interested in it,  and then the results.  I do use Goodreads for the social media side of things.  But it’s good to have a place to ramble about random nothings, too.

I want to start being a better reader.  All too often I’ll get excited about a book, start it and then get distracted.  I’m excited about finding new books to read. 📚

A Break from Faceook

“It’s not you, it’s me”

As a fall gift to myself, I have decided to take a break from Facebook.  I de-activated my account.  It’s far too early to say how long this break will be.

I will state a disclaimer by saying up front that my reasons are my own.  I don’t think that temporarily or permanently opting out of Facebook makes me any “better” than my peers.  I’ve sometimes seen that attitude slip out from other people who I’ve encountered who have said they don’t use Facebook.  People who like it and enjoy it still live in my household so I’d be lording it over a lot of really important people in my life if that was my attitude. Nor is my decision a “grudge” because someone “did something” to me.  It is not intended to be a slap in the face to people who genuinely care, or a snub at anyone’s lifestyle choices.

Here is an explanation as it applies to my own mindset and experience:

My first is that I acknowledge my own difficulty in time management.  I’ve spent hours and hours reading posts that people have made to Facebook, comments on news stories I follow, and I’ve found it to be a waste of time, rather than “something fun”.

It has never been very fulfilling to me socially.  Like many people, I had struggles in middle school and high school.  It seems that even to this day, I observe the social structure and it’s a matter of cultural appeal whether a person makes it through their school years unscathed, making the cut.  My social anxiety is with me to this day, and I have not found Facebook instrumental to alleviate that.

I work very hard and place a high priority in not offending other people, and therefore, I’ve added friends who really don’t matter much to me (and vice versa I am sure)  for the sake of social etiquette, and then promptly “unfollowed” so I wouldn’t see their posts scrolling through my newsfeed, without unfriending them.  I knew that is how people manage their friendship with me as well, because only a handful of people “saw” my post several years back when I announced my mother passing away or other significant events in my life where I’ve needed support.

I did a search on Google for “I deactivated Facebook” or variations on the theme, and I found many people’s reasoning to ring true for me as well.  Here is one.

There was discomfort with the “friend suggestions”.  There are friend suggestions where there are no mutual friends, and I wonder how many tiers deep of “degrees of separation” Facebook’s coding searches for because there were some names which reminded me of unpleasant situations in the past in the “People you may also know” sidebar.  I found that to be really creepy.

I also found that I had to be an annoying pain in the butt to get friends of mine who wanted to contact me privately to use e-mail or even better, if they also had a cell phone texting plan, to text me, or phone me (talking on the phone is my least preferred way to “chat” but I will do it gladly over using Facebook’s interface.)  I did not want Facebook messenger to host or archive all my private conversations.  My texting plan is unlimited and as it is, I was a late adopter into getting a phone.  If I fill out a contact form, usually my email address, landline, and cell number are the spaces I see.  Facebook is not my phone number. Nor is their chat interface the equivalent of “texting”.

It might seem a little hypocritical that I have a cell phone and like it, and I’m keeping Twitter, and yet want to prune Facebook.  But maybe it’s not. I don’t have to cut off all technology, just the sources that leave me feeling empty inside. But they are not the same thing. On Twitter I am more likely to actually click on the link, and read the news story articles of news sources I follow than to go straight to the comments and read what people say..  I did that all the time on Facebook.  Kind of addicting to read what other people say about the news rather than the news itself.

I used to really enjoy reading, and learning to improve my skills on new hobbies.  I enjoy piano, guitar, clarinet, knitting, and pumping my e-reader full of books.  But 9pm would come and did I do many of those things?  Most of the down time was spent on Facebook, or playing the games, and none of the pages of library books I’d borrowed would be touched.  So for me, it’s really a matter of taking grownup responsibility to facilitate the things I want to do.

There is a passage in the Bible which reads, (paraphrasing) “If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off”.  And it’s true for me.

Again.  This could be a temporary thing, or something I may choose to cut out completely, but this is how I feel at the time of this writing.  It’s important to me to examine my own lifestyle and tweak accordingly to what works for me.  It’s a time declutter.  I’ll have to see for myself how the results are.