Dear Facebook, here are some new rules

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Dear Facebook,

We’ve had this love-hate relationship for a while now. Just last week, I threatened to break up with you for good. I’ve tried so many ways of quitting you, only to return, IV needle in hand. It’s those bite-sized bits of information and affirmation you’ve got at your disposal, just enough of a hit to make me think I can’t live without you.

I’ve spent so much of my last 11 years plugged into your feed, much of it mindless scrolling. I’ve let you simultaneously command my attention and destroy my attention span. There is always something going on with you, never a breather to pay attention to anything or anyone else. I have trouble reading more than 20 pages in a book without you popping up in the back of my mind. I can’t get through a 30-minute sitcom with my son without wondering if you’ve doled out another like or comment.

That’s where the problem lives. I want my attention back — and you don’t have any intention of letting it go. Your sole purpose is to make it all about you.

2019 is going to be different. I’m reclaiming the intention in my attention.

You probably already know this, but I removed you from my phone. I’m sure it was a bit of a shock to know that you were no longer living at my fingertips, but I have to say it feels better. In just a few weeks, the urge for instant gratification is starting to wane. I’ve checked in once or twice a day via the web, so the withdrawls wouldn’t entice me into reinstalling you. I’ll consider this first step towards a healthier relationship with you a success.

Yes, that means I’m not going to completely break up with you. I’ve been sorely tempted, believe me, but then I’m reminded of the good things we’ve shared. The friends I’ve made through you. The networks you’ve helped me create. There’s still real value in our connection.

But we’re going to have some new rules (yes, just like Dua Lipa).

  • One: You will not return to my phone. We need our space. No more mindless interactions. Period.
  • Two: You’re no longer going to be the chronology of my life. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found myself in conversation and realize I have nothing to share. I’ve shared it all already with you, and you’ve broadcast it out to the world. The world doesn’t need to hear from me umpteen times a day.
  • Three: You’re not going to be there with me in the moment. I’m going to start living for the experience, not the share.
  • Four: We’re going to spend quality time when we are together. I’m going to use the tools you’ve already provided to see what I need to see and avoid the rabbit holes — and I’m only going to share things I’ve had time to intentionally construct.
  • Five: We’re going to be a positive in the world. At our best, we’ve brought a positive light into the world. The things I share with you will carry that compassion and intent.

I know you’re likely snickering, Good luck, buddy. But here’s the deal. I’m done blindly giving you my attention. I know where the deactive button is and I’m no longer afraid to use it.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the way out of no man’s land

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while now. It’s been swirling in my brain, heart, and gut for quite a while, but every time I feel like I’m close to putting fingers to keyboard, I shy away, worried of the reaction from all sides.

It’s a sensitive topic, you see. A white guy writing to other white guys about being a white guy in today’s society and culture.

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Continue to show up

As I flew out of DC today and looked back down our National Mall, I imagined all the young people that would fill the spaces in between the monuments and buildings in the hours to come. I remembered how Marine One darted over my head by the Washington Monument yesterday, carrying the president to a Mar-A-Lago-bound Air Force One. It struck me that those who create a meaningful life are those who SHOW UP. Not just for the main event, but who continue to work, to learn, to improve themselves, and to give, day in and day out.

I applaud and am awed at all the young people who showed up in our capitol and around the country today. You showed up to the big event. Now continue to show up every day. In your classes. In your communities. In the voting booths. In your own hearts. In everything you do.

Who is authoring your personal checklist?

There’s something about the human brain and lists. We crave order, delineation, and bite-sized chunks of information. A decade of social media exposure has only intensified this natural urge in us. We’re bombarded with bullet points and listicles by which we can judge our lives.

listicles

I’ll often find myself falling into the judgement trap. We’re doing great. We got 8 out of 10 on this one. Our relationship passed the test! But …. wait … that’s only 80%. That’s a B-. That sucks. Nobody wants a B- minus relationship. Here’s another list, we got 90% on this one. Whew!

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Getting out of a negative rut

If we worry, creating more unease and anxiety, we become stellar worriers since our brain is responding, making it easier for us to worry each time we do it, thus creating our default mode living.

While I’m generally someone who finds silver linings in almost any bad predicament, I know I can get stuck in a negative rut (especially when it comes to our current politics!)

We all need a good rant when people and situations challenge us. The danger lives when these rants become our daily outlook.

Why we’re here

Last year, I planted a batch of red onions in the middle of our raised vegetable garden, but they were a complete failure as a crop. At the end of the season, I thought I’d ripped them all out of the soil. But this afternoon, I found one sprouting after surviving our long Illinois winter. Thoroughly impressed with its resiliency, I posted the photo to Facebook.

Soon afterward, I received a comment: “Thank you so much for the vicarious gardening. I’ve had some frustrating health issues the past several months, and your posts really do improve my outlook and make me feel like I am not missing everything. Many, many thanks.”

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