Tag Archives: Facebook

Disconnect To Reconnect

As the sun shines and the wind blows on this chilly Sunday in Connecticut, I stand at the cusp of Day 5 of Lent and my social media diet. This diet is comprised of no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for the 40 days of Lent…and I will confess that list clearly does not include Snapchat since I find it silly, fun and not nearly the level of distraction that those other apps prove to be. It’s my social media diet, damn it and I will do it how I wanna.

This isn’t my first ever foray into doing this kind of social media clear out for Lent since I also did this with just Facebook several years back. Not surprisingly, the first few days are the most interesting and the most telling.

It’s funny to begin to truly notice how often when a moment of delay, boredom or small time gap in my days occurs, I reach for my phone for instant distraction before even realizing I’m doing it. It’s only as the phone effortlessly slides into my hand from my pocket and I get read to click the Facebook app do I then realize… ohhhhh, right. I deleted that sucker on Fat Tuesday.

Or the moments where I have a thought that pops into my head, whether an observation about the day or something utterly silly to share for a mild guffaw…and I remember that I won’t be doing that.

And even more importantly than the idea of I won’t be doing that, I begin to think “Huh…why do I feel the need to always do that?”

By virtue of writing this blog post for others to read, I clearly am not against the sharing of thoughts and ideas to the world at large. Heck, that’s something I enjoy doing quite a bit…but the reasons behind all of this do matter. Am I doing it because I have something to say, regardless of whether there is a defined response? Or is there a desire to have someone validate my ideas? Like most things, it’s probably a combination thereof.

The time away from these social media platforms is spurring me to reconnect, live and in-person, with my family and friends to a great extent. If for no other reason, this alone makes it worth it. Sure, I could have done this while keeping up my steady stream of inane babble on Facebook about Lord only knows what, but there is something impactful about combining the time away from one with the concerted effort to be more connected with the people I care about. This has been lunches, dinners, phone calls and any a number of ways of being with important people and truly present in those moments without a temptation to check what else is going on out there.

And as the photo suggest, I’ve also found a lot more time to read and catch up on news straight from sources and without the argumentative precursors that have become the norm in my Facebook feed the last year.

I encourage anyone else thinking about this to try it (and this article from the always excellent Eric Barker at Barking Up The Wrong Tree has research-backed ideas). The hardest pull is a combination of fear-of-missing-out (the weird acronym of FOMO that prompts an eyeroll from me every time) or thinking you will lose touch with people. You won’t – you just adapt to a different way of connecting. (But the irony of the fact that when I post this blog it will automatically post to my Facebook page is not lost on me.)

And perhaps the greatest thing I am noticing in this period of time? That maybe… just maybe…when Lent comes to a close for 2017…that I will stop, look around and realize the fear-of-missing-out was just a fear…and I should have been far more concerned of missing out on the important things right in front of me…not on my phone screen.

Those Five People

A common piece of guidance that people mention a lot is you are the company you keep. It’s meant to be both a reflection on who you are based on the choices you make of friends, associates and colleagues, but it’s also about the influence those people you spend so much time with have on you.  It’s summed up nicely by Jim Rohn as follows:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

(Side note – If you are one of those high-minded goobers who get twitterpated over the idea of ending your sentence in prepositions, y’all need to take a deep breath and reassess your priorities. You should also read this.)

From a macro level view, this advice makes sense, provided you take it as general guidance to be reflective on who gets your precious time.  We should all be mindful of that since, let’s be frank, some people get far too much time from us who simply don’t deserve it.

However, the thing that’s always struck me in a weird way about this phrase is when it’s used as advice, it implies you then have complete choice over who those people are.  We often cannot choose our coworkers.  Are you going to upend your career every time there are less-than-awesome folks in your immediate work groups?  Every workplace has them in some form or another and while you shouldn’t settle, you also probably shouldn’t think you will eliminate those kinds of people 100% of the time.

And what about your family, especially if you are a parent with kids?  I don’t think protective services is going to cast a kind eye in your direction if you sit down with your middle schoolers to tell them they need to go away because they are seriously harshing your mellow, bro.

So the question is what to do in those situations since we all likely have some of those Fab Five who aren’t that fabulous or don’t add positive value to our lives.

I think it’s one of three approaches:

  1. Replace those people if you can. (And that’s a bit IF).
  2. Reduce the amount of time you do spend with them.
  3. Increase the positive content you bring into your own life.

It’s #3 that I have been thinking about the most because while it has it’s shortcomings, I think there is often more value here than people may realize.

If there are people who occupy time in your life that you cannot simply get rid of, you can still proactively bring good things into your life.  I am continuously surprised by the extent to which reading the right things, listening to the right things (lectures, podcasts, etc.) and spending the right time (prayer, meditation, quiet time, etc.) can blunt the effects of negativity.

It’s better to have the right 5 people, I do think, since I think their impact is hard to match, but given that we live in a time when we have more options available on the kinds of information and content we bring into our lives, why wouldn’t anyone fill their gray matter up with that as much as they can?  Because even if you cannot choose those 5 people freely, you certainly can choose freely that content in your life.

In fact, this is a big part of my upcoming social media break for Lent because I am finding the amount of negative I get from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is high (drama, negativity, habitual need to check for updates and likes and mentions and comments while not spending enough time being present with the people right there in front of me) and dwarfing the positive I receive.  I would even argue that, for most people these days, one of those five people may be a social media presence… or perhaps Facebook as an entity is one of those five.  It has been for me.

So assess the people most in your life and think about if they portray who you are and want to be.  That’s good for any of us to do… provided we do it without a sense of smug superiority like we are a queen choosing suitors for our clearly much-desired attention.  But remember we can each make more subtle shifts to change what the daily content of our days can be.

Come Ash Wednesday on March 1st, mine will change quite a bit.  Time to see where it goes.

Thoughts, Musings and Ponderings – January 21, 2012

As the snow falls here in Connecticut and renders most activities for the day moot/cancelled, it gives a gentleman like myself a few moments to sit back and think about… well… just a lot of completely random things.  None of these seemed of sufficient weight to merit a full post on their own, so I decided to mash them all together into a beautiful pastiche of fun.  Oh yes my friends… pastiche.  You will only find such quality vocabulary right here at Fierce and Mighty.  Let’s begin.

If you don’t understand that text messages and e-mail lack context and tone, you are hereby banned from using them going forward.

I really don’t get this when it happens and I never had.  If I were to go back in time to when instant messaging was all the rage and AOL dominated the Interwebz (let’s say around 1995-1997), this would be the first time I noticed this trend.  When it’s just words on a page, it’s incredibly easy for the tone of the message to get lost.  This is why smiley faces, LOL and its ilk became so prevalent… it was some kind of attempt to include the subtle textures of tone that were missing.  Seriously.

Fast forward to 2012.  When I see people have a rift driven between them in their friendship based solely on text message exchanges or by the fact someone didn’t respond to their text message, I want to grow hair just so I can rip it out.

I will keep it simple: Until it becomes a trend and proven otherwise (beyond a reasonable doubt and all those good lawyer-ly standards), give your friends the benefit of the doubt, for the love of God.

There is a fine line between valuing your own time and being a complete slug.

I am beginning to seriously wonder whether I need to reassess my life when I have a cleaning service and I have now begun ordering on-line refill cleaning supplies for them to use.  I think that says something about me and while I’m not sure exactly what that is… it can’t be good.

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Smart efficiency? Or abject slothdom?

Everyone is (seemingly) having a better life than you… at least on Facebook.

I read someplace recently that social media can have a negative impact on self esteem because you are often inundated with all of the status updates and photos of people having fun/doing great things/traveling to amazing places. Despite the fact that it is a collection of different people, there seems to be an easy slip into thinking that EVERYONE is having AMAZING experiences every single day… and you are just sitting on the couch like a lump, wondering why your DVR failed to record the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother.

I’ve fallen into this trap myself.  I might be spending a bit of time tooling around on Facebook and I see a slew of posts on cool things people are doing and it’s as if I subconsciously roll them into the event of a single person.  Except it’s not a single person.  I am likely looking at a slice in time of 25 different people who are posting something cool they did and it might be their shining highlight of their year, not something that happens to them daily.

While none of us should settle in our lives to some drab, gray existence… there’s also no need to fall into the trap of thinking you are the only one not invited to the party.

The amount you have left to pay on your car loan is inversely proportional to how irrational you will be about getting a new car.

My car is almost paid off.  I don’t need a new car.  My car (2005 Nissan Pathfinder) is great in the snow, lets me crate stuff around (like my Prowler) and while it sucks on gas… did I mention it is almost paid off?

So despite the fact that I am looking forward to having zero car payments, I can barely contain the fanciful thoughts dancing in my head of something like… ohh… you know… this:

BMW 335 in the Fall-10

Completely pointless.  Overpriced.  Unnecessary.  Another vestige of a consumer culture, brand obsession and keeping up with the Joneses.  And completely beautiful.  Damn it.  I wants it.

And yes, these are the random points of nonsense flowing through my head on a snowy winter day in New England.  I know you are now a richer person for having read this.  You’re welcome.

A Little Less Every Day

I feel rather fortunate to have some good friends and connections on Facebook who have a gift for providing interesting status updates or thought-provoking links. It’s one of those areas where I find Facebook can really shine as more than just a nice tool to give updates to friends on how you’re doing and really become an amazing means of sharing wisdom.

I can almost hear the groans from here at positing Facebook as a portal through which intelligence can be shared… especially since so much of Facebook can degrade into really mindless (but potentially fun) nonsense.

An excellent example is this link my buddy Chris posted a little while ago:

The post is interesting in its own right as it peers into those closing moments of life where people finally let down their guards and get honest with themselves and those around them.

However, this post was especially interesting to me since I’ve spent the last few days thinking about the same concept in point #1: the importance of living a life true to yourself and your own principles as opposed to constantly striving to only serve the expectations of others.  In a way, this is a bit of a link to my previous post because being nice does not mean kowtowing to the interests of others in hopes of winning their approval, especially if you compromise yourself in the process.

It’s why I am striving to care just a little bit less every day what others think of me, how they judge me or how my actions can be improperly shaped by opinions or views not my own.  This is a tricky process… umm, but I am guessing you knew that.  No matter how noble our intentions, it can be hard not to be affected by friend, family and colleagues.  Heck, Madison Avenue is none of those things and yet has made a borderline science to influencing consumers into purchasing all manner of goods (whether we need them or not).

I’ve found a few interesting benefits to this practice.  One that jumps most readily to mind is how it affects me giving presentations at work.  I’ve actually enjoyed public speaking to a certain degree anyway… I’m a bit of a ham, when you get right down to my core.  But what’s made it even better is an attitude of “Let it rip…”  In doing so, I find myself less concerned about “Oh my God… but… but… what if I MESS IT ALL UP?!?!?!?  THEN WHAT?!?!?!?  I will be shunned forever!  Looked down upon as a blighted soul not fit for human contact!”  You know… or something like that.  But that has not been the case – instead, it has given me a renewed kick in the pants.  Not bad, right?

But in reality, the most important part is each little step will hopefully bring me that much closer to an aligned sense of living with my own values… and as a person profoundly affected by my own personal values, that is hugely important.  If I feel out of whack on this, absolutely nothing feels right.

And it’s a process.  No one just wakes up one day after a particularly good night’s sleep and is just in perfect alignment.  It’s not something you acquire, set back and think, “Ahh… to live out my days as a consistent human being in all ways possible.  Thank goodness for that extra bit of shut-eye.  That hit the spot!”

2010-02-08 - Snowboarding

So here’s to peering down the slope and taking on the ultimate and most worthwhile challenge: being yourself.  Ride hard.  Fall a few times.  Ride again.  It won’t be easy, but you will never regret it.

Nice Guys Finish…

I recently attended a great strength and conditioning seminar down in New Jersey hosted by one of my favorite coaches, Jason Ferruggia. I’ve always enjoyed these kinds of events because of how much I learn and also because of the interactions you have with the other participants.

In one of the Facebook threads following the seminar, a comment was made about me that I could possibly be the “nicest guy you will ever meet.”  I must admit that this is not the first time someone has made this remark to me and every time I have ever heard it, I’ve always had the same reaction: humbled, but with a little bit of a shoulder shrug because I just do not know any other way. It’s how I was raised.

Believe me – I don’t say any of this as a means to brag, boast or pat myself on the back.  Far from it.  I lack the ego to sit around and do that kind of thing anyway.

But it does make me think quite a bit about what it means to be a nice person and the Leo Durocher saying of “Nice guys finish last.”  Heck, as I glanced through the Wikipedia entry for “nice guy” (seriously… there is one) and let me tell you… whoever wrote that, they didn’t look too fondly upon the archetypal nice guy.Marcus Aurelius

I basically chuckle at the entire notion of how someone described as a nice guy is viewed in popular culture.  The guy who never really gets the girl in the end.  The doormat in the office that everyone dumps everything on.  The guy so easily taken advantage of by less-than-true friends.

There are certainly people who fall into all of that, but it’s never fit how I like to see myself.

For me, it’s a fairly simple sort of approach: a combination of (1) the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you and (2) a smattering of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

If you are suddenly finding yourself thinking, “Umm… and that would mean?”, hopefully I can explain.

Everyone knows the Golden Rule.  It’s the simple notion that you treat people as you would be treated.  Clean, simple, concise.  So point #1, check.

The Marcus Aurelius piece is a bit of using the philosophy of the classic Stoics that the actions of others, in the end, are meaningless in terms of how I think, feel, respond and conduct myself.  In other words, I am going to always do my best to act according to my principles and if you are a jerk in return… that’s on you, not me.  I think this approach takes more strength as opposed to less because there must always be a vigilance in not allowing others to change who you are or sway you into acting in conflict with your beliefs.

Does this mean I sit back and take whatever garbage people may look to lay on my lap?  Of course not, although I do notice that some people seem to think that since I seek to treat people well, that perhaps I CAN be taken advantage of.  It’s a bit sad to see and when I catch it, that person will always diminish in my eyes.  But how I handle it is simple: I give people the benefit of the doubt and when I see they simply have not earned it, my interactions with them will taper off over time.  Oh and I will continue to be polite when our paths cross… but I am obviously not going to go out of my way for them.  Nice guy should never equal utterly bat guano crazy.

So feel free to be a little nice today while sticking to your guns. It’s surprising how liberating it can be to be to see the good mojo you get in return.  And if you get a healthy dose of jerkiness in return?  Their lost opportunity… not yours.

Social Networking and the Rules of Engagement

I want to make something clear from the outset: I am not any kind of social media maven. I don’t specialize in building brands through tweets crafted with the guile of Machiavelli and the sparse beauty of Hemingway. I like using a few social networking tools and sites (Google+, Twitter and this fairly humble blog) and find it really great that I am now quite friendly with a number of people I’ve only come to know through these very sites. How can you not be at least a little fascinated by finding people with common beliefs and interests whom you may never meet in your life?

I’ve also come to chuckle at those that, to me, are just getting the social networking all wrong, at least in terms of engagement. It seems the coin of the realm to many who look to climb to the top of social heap is purely numbers. More friends or Likes on Facebook. In more circles on Google+. The uber-coveted number of Followers on Twitter.

But so freaking what?

Somehow why engagement became important is suddenly lost. It’s more like the rules of engagement in a military firefight than in seeking to make connections with other people.

Rules of Engagement

I recently took it upon myself to follow the advice of Chris Brogan and started unfollowing on Twitter or unliking on Facebook any person, business, group, etc. that only engaged in monologues vs. dialogues.

It was profoundly liberating. Less noise. Less fluff. Less people who only follow me if I follow them back. More people I actually want to interact with.

I don’t know how or where it happened, but somewhere along the way these amazing tools that enable people to connect with each other around the world to exchange ideas, make new friends, debate interesting topics or just learn something became twisted into a numerical popularity contest. I am guessing that many were looking to cash in on the social networking phenomenon and figured “More people following = more money!”

Except for one small problem… if you have nothing interesting to say, who cares?

I feel like it’s a new kind of Zen koan: If someone tweets to 43,743 followers but none of them read it, did it really happen?

It gets to a rule I find more solid every day: go for the authentic every time and you will come out on the other side richer for it.

The Zen of Baseball

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Growing up, I was all about baseball. It was truly one of my favorite things, from watching games on TV, going to Fenway Park with my family, collecting stacks and stacks of baseball cards or playing one of a thousand forms of the game. They were all good and I didn’t want to go without.As I grew old, all of this faded a bit. It was a slow drift over time, like a fallen leaf on a lake that starts near the shore, but gradually glides further away with each passing moment.

Ahh, but then baseball decided to strike and the bitterness that left in my mouth would last… for years. The game lost something for me at that point. Maybe I still held a nostalgic and naive fondness in my heart that was stung by the labor issues. I’ll likely never know for sure, but I did know that baseball could suck it for all I cared.

Then came 2004 when I became caught up in the improbable Red Sox run to make the greatest comeback in sports history against the Yankees and then finally break The Curse after 86 years. From that moment on, the game began its slow and subtle build back into my heart.

Now in 2011, the game has returned fully to my heart as if it had never really left from those days of my childhood where I wore a plastic Oakland A’s batting helmet and imagined I was Ricky Henderson stealing base after base. Hell, I even ponied up the money to buy the MLB.TV subscription so I can watch all kinds of baseball on my laptop, Roku player and on that powerful sweet iPad 2 I totally plan on scoring.

I think there is a part of me that truly understands why in the world this has all returned to me with a seemingly effortless grace… it’s because I miss the measured complexity, nuance and pace of baseball. It really has hit me of late that what I once thought of as slow and boring in my bulletproof, I-know-everything days of my 20’s is really almost like perfect Zen meditation when watched properly. It becomes a matter of unplugging yourself from the scattered modern lifestyle of uber-connectedness, must check my Facebook every 7.5 minutes and must keep my nose buried in my iPhone to never miss a text. I know I’ve been pulled into all of that and typically left feeling even LESS connected than ever.

Don’t you see it all the time? The classic example is a group of friends, out together, but almost everyone in their own little world checking on what everyone else NOT present is up to… while the moment to connect deeply with those 2 feet away slips by. And without a doubt, I’ve done this too.

It’s to these moments that baseball feels like a perfect antidote… to sit down and just watch a game… not while tweeting or checking out movie trailers on YouTube… but doing nothing but watching a game unfold in its own time.

So here’s to hoping for a learning to appreciate a little more richness through the lessons that the master known as baseball can provide. Time to unplug and play ball.

This Might Not Work

Front Cover PTB 210x300

I’m a little more than halfway through Seth Godin’s new book “Poke the Box” and I’m duly intrigued.  It’s funny because it’s a pretty short book and the text is not densely packed onto each page, but it would be a terrible mistake to think this implies the thoughts contained therein are as thin as the book itself.  OK granted, I read it on a Kindle so there is no thickness to the book to begin with, but you get my meaning.  Sheesh… cut me some slack!  OK, where was I again?  Oh yes… Mr. Godin.

The driving concept behind the book is summed up in one word: initiative.  The secret sauce that makes things go and people stop their hand-wringing to actually START something.  The magic of the book is how Godin goes far beyond just blandly discussing initiative and why it’s important to more of a call to action.  Huh… it’s like an initiative for initiative in a way.  I think I just blew my own mind right there.

I am going to get back to reading the book some more tonight, but 4 little words he stresses in the book really jumped out at me: “This might not work.”

What’s the power of such a simple sentence?  The fact that it’s a pivotal idea you need to get comfortable with… or at least more comfortable with… so you can fully immerse yourself in a mindset of being a starter.

We all tend to want perfect and we want it now and on the first try, damn it.  And if we cannot have it?  Well then hell, we better wait and plan and scheme and spend oodles of time creating charts on how when we finally get around to starting… ohh at that glorious moment, all will be PERFECTION.

Except it never is.

This all calls to mind one of my favorite quotes from General George S. Patton: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

Therein lies the truth of it all… that it’s a very rare time where inaction is better than action of some kind, shape or sort.  This clearly assumes at least a modicum of reasoned thought about what action to take, but certainly not the kind of endless procrastination masquerading as deep reflection that a lot of people do… and I clearly place myself into that big ugly mess.

Tomorrow I begin using the season of Lent as my own way to spur on the action I’ve avoided.  I’m giving up Facebook.  I’m spending more time in person with friends and family.  I will struggle mightily to get this damn blog in order.  Heck, I even had my very first blog post go up today on my new work blog,  about which I am endlessly excited, especially because I decided to just push it forward and see what happens.

Here’s to a good 40 day run, made up of what I hope to be a string of single day mini-runs.  It might not work, but I’m starting to get comfortable with that… or at least as comfortable as I can be.

Forty Facebook-Free Days

Every year when Lent rolls around, I try to figure out what in the world I’m going to do for those 40 days that will be meaningful of the season.  As Mom always says, “You don’t have to give something up.  You can do something instead.”  She makes a good point (as Mom usually does), but it always seems easier to pick something to forgo instead of doing something.  This year, I’m looking to do both.  Why?  Apparently I’ve been bitten by an ambition bug.  Nasty little suckers.

Now, I could look to subtly build the message of this blog post through an increasingly clever and layered set of paragraphs, delving into heretofore never seen nuances… umm… but the title of the post pretty much gives the whole damn thing away anyway, so why bother?  So, yup… I’m giving up Facebook for Lent.  I know, I’m fairly cutting edge in my approach to most things, Lent included.  I’m sure I will be a 2011 Time Magazine Man of the Year candidate on this alone.

I’ve gotten a bit of pushback from a few friends of mine, especially those who no longer live close enough by me to hang out with on a consistent basis.  They make a good point: Facebook is the easiest way for them to know what I’m up to given the busy pace of their lives.  I actually agree with that.  I know it can be supremely easy to bash Facebook for any varied number of reasons, but it’s allowed me to reconnect with old friends, family members and just keep up with what a lot of people I know are doing on a daily basis.  Plus, I’ve seen some interesting articles and pretty amusing pieces of YouTube genius as a result of The Book of Face.

So why give it up?  Two reasons, really.  One: I like it and doing so is a sacrifice for me.  That’s sort of the easy one to explain.  Second: I feel like I can make much better use of my time for Lent than addictively checking Facebook on my laptop and on my phone, or reading the updates that come via e-mail.  They are not inherently bad or anything like that, but I know I’ve become a little too preoccupied with the Facebook life and not enough focused on… well… regular life.  The Facebook time is time I could use reflecting on Lent, doing some reading, writing for this terribly neglected blog, finally getting serious about improving my flexibility (seriously) or even just spending time with people… like face-to-face.  You know, like in ye olden days of yore.  And if you are wondering whether I crafted that sentence strictly for an opportunity to use “yore”… damn straight I did.  That word gets far too little use, my friends!

KMK Facebook

The real hope I have is to unplug for a bit and not withdraw at all, but rather to engage in a more meaningful fashion with the people I care most about it.  Facebook should be a tool for that, not some kind of crutch and while I don’t think I’ve gotten to that crutch-like point, I must confess I’ve come to rely on “The Book” a lot more than I would care to.  Hence, I am pulling away from Facebook for 40 days and seeing what it all brings.  I expect a few withdrawal symptoms over days 1-5, but probably smooth sailing after that.

The only potential bummer is actually using Facebook to announce any new blog posts I do.  I will definitely be using Twitter for that and if there was a way to auto-publish to my “Fierce and Mighty” Facebook page, that would be nice too.  If I can’t, then so be it.

Don’t feel bad, Facebook.  We had a good run and I just need some time apart.  It’s not you… it’s me.  I’ll be back… I think.