I learned that I had somehow forgotten that there’s a real and genuine social life you can access and that it’s a sad thing that once I did, I felt a certain nostalgia for it—having been so digitally oriented for so long. It’s like waking up from a slumber, a stupor.
It has been an ongoing process of far-from-perfection—not immediate—but it gradually took on a whole different tone than have my previous 12 Facebook bans. In those, I really hated being “cut off” and chomped at the bit to get back on. In this case, I became gradually more comfortable, even going days without checking in much (I can see everything on FB, I just can’t “do” anything) and fewer and fewer days doing stream-of-consciousness stuff via another account. And finally, I began to feel some trepidation about the ban being lifted and going right back into the same cycle. First rule of holes: stop digging.
…One person I thought a lot of over that month is Adam “AB” Dada. He’s quite a character but has also been influential over the years I’ve known him (he dropped 57 comments here about 5-6 years back), to adopt a more dopamine stable, low-reward lifestyle. No, I don’t hang on his every word. I don’t advise that sort of thing for anyone and the best “gurus” are actually attempting to get you to think for yourselves in order to save them time. I see his posts when they pop up (and he just came back to Facebook after 6 months away) and I try to have a logic-nugget stick in my head now and then. For instance—and I can’t quote it because I’m not going to bother trying to find it—in one short post he eschewed all of these affirmations and resolutions people do rather than simply saying “no” to yourself and meaning it.
It’s about the struggle I’ve been dabbling at for a couple of months or so, now about three weeks increasing in earnestness, to simply say NO and really mean it. No resolutions, no affirmations. Just no to immediate high reward things. There are so many, now. Then, being bored when you do actually say no and mean it is, evidence that you’re hooked.
So, there are cycles to break.
Here’s a couple of observations I’ve had in terms of saying no to immediate high-reward things.
- There’s always like four things at the ready I could do to avoid something productive. If I can succeed in saying no to each desire in succession, it’s more likely I’m going to do the dishes from last night, make the kitchen spotless and then make a pot of soup, maybe even record it and put it up on my new Kitchen Patreon, write a blog post, go on a hike, or even go on a drive to no place in particular and get one really good photo. And even when productive attempts fail as they often do, that’s information and I’m marginally ahead.
- Have you ever had an inkling to maybe take in a movie, so you run through the selections on Netflix and Prime, and before you know it, you’ve just watched 30 minutes or more of trailers without actually watching anything, so you just shut it off and go to sleep an hour earlier?
Number 1 requires the power of NO and sticking to it until you eventually do something that’s better to do. Number 2 is a natural way of easily saying no because for whatever reason, what’s supposed to be an enticing high reward, just isn’t and boredom does a 180 on you.
The mystery and struggle for me, still, is how to get to the relative perfection of number 2, when confronted with far more common number 1 situations.
…Over this last month—and in particular over the last couple of weeks—the most profound thing that happened over this 30-day ban was that I became increasingly uninterested in politics, public policy debate, philosophy on all levels, social justice, the erosion of the sacred, and et cetera, et cetera.
I think I may have spent too much of my life’s capital on all of that, already. I can’t get any of it back. It’s a sunk cost. More accurately, is that it’s a sunk squandering. Cost often implies a loss of investment, which implies that you had some logical reason to gain in the longer run, and loss can be chalked up to tuition in the school of life and business. And yet, there is something in common. In losses related to investment in a goal, you learn and move on, do better next time. In squandering time and money that could be better employed, you just stop doing that. First rule of holes.
…The world, in spite of digital shrinkage, is still a pretty big place and I’m increasingly coming to the realization that all the political banter I’ve promoted and engaged in over decades is a sort of high-reward game of immediate feedback given internet and the hyper-drive of social media and I really just want to sit across from other people and see, hear, and viscerally feel them, face to face.
AB Dada (edited):
You “cure” your community of disreputable opinions and behaviors by becoming ignorant of them.
If someone presses you to pay attention, change the topic to something light and funny that is more important to you. Do not give shitty behaviors any attention other than to ostracize people when they commit to those actions around you — after changing the topic often.
I don’t pay attention to any of the modern political bogeymen at all, and if someone in my life brings it up, I bring up something much more important to me like the green of my lawn or the lint on my linen shorts. If they continue to bring it up I tell them they’re boring and annoying and if they’re going to talk about useless topics, they won’t be invited back until they behave.
Let’s go throw a frisbee disc instead.
Leaders don’t let followers drive conversations and activities. Leaders who do become followers.
When I read that I was just scrolling through my feed going “ignore, ignore, ignore” and thinking “I hope I can hold out, at least to 90% level” and then this comes along to quicken my motivation to do something better.
I do want to influence people in meaningful and material ways that actually makes a good-shit difference in their lives.
I’m not asking friends and follower to not talk about or post political stuff…it’s your life and I’m not “unfriending” (it’s a word, now) over it, but I’m going to be doing my damn level best to write stuff that can actually make short and long term differences in peoples’ lives.
I’m tired of being angry about stuff I can’t control, pretending to influence where even when influenced, there are no measurable results, and being frustrated over so much wasted energy and potential surrounding my activities when there is so much good to do and help to put forth.
So, here’s an example of how my evolving approach might tend to be different going forward. This would be a better meme, below, if you just cut off the bottom half with the weirdos and the top with the caption. Re-caption it something like this:
Ignore feminism. Instead, go out and tell charming ladies they’re pretty and that you appreciate their beautification efforts in the world.
Focus on where the true power and influence lies. Point out well dressed pretty ladies to your children.
Recycling back, the Facebook ban was really just the impetus to get me mostly moving in a better direction.
What’s the worst two things I did over the last six months?
The first thing was to get myself wrapped up in a substantial texting banter with a woman because she’s smart on an esoteric intellectual level and shares much in common because of crossing philosophical paths.
I flew out to meet her, in spite of her being with another, but considering a switch. I should have known better than to wrap myself up like that. I’m not 20-something, anymore, where it’s just straight-up predatory pursuit at high energy and misses never matter because you’re always moving forward.
The second was to download about five different “dating” apps on my phone and start swiping right and left.
Both were high-reward obsessions. In the former case, I can recall night after night of just texting banter. In terms of the apps, I’d get these “hi daddy” hits from the younger set and even after due diligence would be head down texting for far too long. It’s time and life squandering.
None of that, anymore.
Instead, I try my best to engage with the real life out there for some period every day. Typically, that’s to get out early and hit the coffee shop, the market, or both. Just a week ago I had accomplished 2-minute-plus conversations with 7 people before 9am (my personal best). Only two were people I had already spoken to at other times. I know the names of every person who works at Cafe Bistro, to which I can walk in 10 minutes. I gather little life tidbits about them, follow-up later, which builds affinity and trust. It builds a human social intimacy that just doesn’t analog to digital.
The other thing I do every day is to not pick up my phone for notifications or texts, but to instead, do pick up my phone to call a friend or family member and chat for a while.
This is all still a struggle and I fail every damn day on one level or the other. But I recognize those failures and rather than give up, I just keep saying NO to myself on doing time of my life squandering things, trusting that someday it’s going to stick and keep sticking, up to the point where I begin to wonder what was so enticing about any of it it in the first place.
Ultimately, saying no to yourself essentially means: I have better things to do. Well, then do them. You only have so many hours in a day.