Tag Archives: social media

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.

The List of Love

I spent this past weekend in the Columbus, Ohio area for some lifting-related shenanigans. One thing I’ve found with traveling, is I get really reflective during my trips. There’s nothing miraculous about the fact that travel changes your perspective – it’s been written about countless times on the power of seeing other places to broaden your worldview. What’s interesting is that I think this occurs regardless of whether you travel to the other side of the planet or just a few states away… at least, if you are open to it.

During my trip back home to Connecticut, I received a Facebook message from someone that completely caught me off guard, but really in the best possible way. They hit me with a series of extremely kind compliments, just as an observation of what they saw of me and how I live my life. Now, the details of what they said are immaterial and, quite frankly, listing them out just really amounts to me giving myself a high-five for being awesome… and not in the typical snarky way I like to do in not taking myself seriously, but in a fashion that feels braggy.  (Is that a word? “Braggy”? No idea… but I’m running with it).

Upon this person telling me that “you have your shit together”, I said “I might need to remind myself of that, then, on occasion”.  This is a big understatement. Like hyooge. I am inordinately hard on myself – hell, a lot of us are.

The response – “I’ll give you some help.  Name me all the things you love most.”

OK, I am down for this – I like to have a little bit of a thinking challenge, certainly as I am sitting in an airport waiting for my next flight.  I began by thinking of this in order and working my way down.

I started typing back via FB Messenger “My family, especially my nephews and nice. My closest, true friends.” At this point I was thinking over what #3 would be… my health or the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have had in my life… what else would I put in there?

Before I could finish the response back, this note was sent to me:

“How long would it take for you to name yourself?”

I sat there for a minute or so, just looking at that message. I understood the words, how they were structured and all of that good stuff drilled into me from an early age about how English grammar operated. However, I honestly did not get what was being said.

That’s when it hit me – the notion of putting myself on that list was never, ever going to occur to me. Seriously. For all the bluster I like to create with my grandiose self-compliments in my writing, they are done so over-the-top so as to actually be self-deprecating. But to really and truly put myself on a list like that? Yeah, no… would never happen.

The crazy thing is that despite how narcissistic the world can seem these days with how social media creates a look-at-me environment, I think most people are in that same boat. If I may play truly amateur psychologist for a brief moment, whenever I see people going deep down the rabbit hole of self-aggrandizement, I cannot help but see someone who is putting up a brave front in an effort to convince themselves that they deserve that praise. They are trying to make themselves believe it far more than they are trying to make their audience believe it.

2015-10-24 15.42.33Hence why I post this picture, profanity and all (yeah, sorry about that Mom)… because in the moment I took this a year and a half ago, I felt what the shirt said and felt pretty-darn-fantastic about myself… without any sense of guilt over that fact. While I share it with you, the photo was really more for me and enjoying the fact I had that moment.

I will never be the person who boasts about himself – I am just simply not wired that way and I am glad for that fact. I do hope to work on that for myself, quietly, in the background and with as little fanfare as possible.

I share all of this because so much of this blog is to, hopefully, give you something to think about in my own personal challenges. In any sense where this blog is about advice or coaching or guidance or counseling, it is only that in so much as I am trying to lay bare how I am fighting to achieve the same things I speak of. I have an inherent distrust of people who speak from a place of self-claimed expertise without any sense of struggle. It feels horribly inauthentic to me.

Rather, I prefer to show you how I am putting in my own work… even if it is to allow myself an occasional self high-five.

Inspiration. Aspiration. Perspiration.

If you’re into fitness and you spend even a casual amount of time on any social media platform, you’ve no doubt seen a ton of things like this:

#fitspo

Inspiration posts like this flood the Internet, typically coming from well-intentioned souls. They’re usually described as fitspo (shortened for fitness inspiration) or really, #fitspo. Because, sweet mother of God, if you can’t hashtag it, what’s the point anyway? You might as well stayed quiet and keep your messaging to yourself.

I personally don’t think there’s a high degree of efficacy in #fitspo messages, partially because most of the messages aren’t particularly illuminating to me. I mean, I love me a good quote that captures my imagination – I’m all about it. But most #fitspo?  Ehh…

But the real driving issue I have with many of these is their tone of “Let ME tell YOU what’s good for YOU.” I think they miss the mark on inspiration, especially because there are few people walking the planet who can speak from a place of perfect authority to direct anyone. We’re all beautifully imperfect creatures so anything that smacks of “I know best for you…” just rubs me the wrong way. Like, every freaking time.

But aspiration? Ahh… NOW we’re getting somewhere! Aspiration still seeks to uplift while coming from a place of humility because the person offering up the guidance is on the same journey.

That’s impactful. That’s powerful. That’s compelling.

I try like hell to accomplish that in this blog because I am so very far from perfect. I know that seems hard to believe with my chiseled good looks, Adonis-like build and buttery-smooth charm, but it’s true. This blog, at it’s very essence, is seeking to help/counsel/coach others as I work through the same challenges as my readers. If you can avoid some kind of struggle based on my own missteps, then that’s a huge win for me.

And maybe the most important beyond aspiration is perspiration or the quiet act of putting in the time and work to do and be better. Great quotes or great speeches give me goosebumps, but I find the person who quietly leads by example to create a much longer-lasting effect. Don’t talk about it – be about it. I am just so intrigued by those who find their passion, put their heads down and get at it.

 

This, of course, makes me look at some of the stuff I do on social media as well. I post up videos of myself lifting in the gym, hitting some personal best, etc. I still wrestle with the notion that it can easily be a narcissistic endeavor.  “LOOK AT ME! DOING THINGS! WITH WEIGHTS! IF YOU AREN’T DOING LIFTY THINGS, YOU’RE NOT HARD CORE AND AWESOME LIKE ME!” Thankfully, I typically do it to keep myself accountable since I have a lot of friends who will critique what I’m doing if something looks off. Keeps me grounded, honestly.

So that’s my hierarchy of authenticity: Perspiration > Aspiration > Inspiration.

Hopefully it will be keep me pointed in the right direction – I sometimes need a road sign or two along the way, you know.

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.

CameraZOOM-20120119182157969

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.

The Zen of Baseball

-1078677918

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.