The Phone Zone – Lessons in Reduction

Greetings and good evening….

As is often said, “Where did the month go?” Three more days until we enter in the last quarter of 2018. It’s just after 9pm and it was a long day at work – two hour meeting followed by coming up to speed on various aspects of the current mission I’m working on, via a lot of reading. Top that off with the fact I should have gotten my tail in the bed earlier last night.

In any event, those of you that have been following my many blog posts this month, Darrenkeith and I have been on an accountability journey regarding this sabbatical we’ve both taken from Facebook, Instagram, and a few other social media sites (save Twitter), waxing philosophically as we go. As said earlier, what I thought (in the beginning) was spending too much time engaged in social media turned out that the result of that was the lack of putting my phone *away and out of sight*. I’m convinced now that is the crux of the issue – an issue that I’m glad became clear during this sabbatical. I’ve read and shared a few articles with you on the subject already and came across one that I shared with Darrenkeith this morning. It was interesting because it involved a handful of subjects who sought to deal with this particular issue in their own, separate ways. I’ll share a link to that article below. I’d be interested in reading your comments on the article. in addition, there is a podcast that I recently listened to that provides fantastic insight and balance on the exact topic of this blog post, it talks to considerations of persuasive technology.

Suffice it say, I’ve come up with a number things I plan to put in to play in hopes of dealing with the same, in a way that I hope to prove beneficial. That said, if I am a lot slower in getting back to you via text, Messenger, Twitter DM, and the like, as Jermaine Jackson sang “Don’t Take It Personal….” (it truly isn’t)… just attempting to return to a time, long, long, ago (LOL) of less distraction from mobile device-ism, less “device dopamine hits” and more movements towards being in a “tech-less” moment and goals achieving state.

In a few days, I’ll reactivate my FB account and deactivate my personal Instagram account but keep two music production Instagram sites for branding purpose – the only difference this time is that neither FB or IG apps will be back on my phone. All (what I continue to be) my best photos will be seen from my Flickr account from here on out. The pleasure of blogging from my own “theater” has returned this month, so be on the lookout for this relationship:

content creation > content consumption
(where content = blogposts/music/podcasts/photography/code/film score music and video)

Come 1 Sept, the rubber (of the sabbatical) meets the road (of reality) – let’s see what sticks after a month off.

Thanks for bearing with me….

:::oceans of rhythm:::

Fresh!

References:
1. Tech Titans Dish Advice About Phone Addiction – Great Escape – Medium
2. This World My Life – Darrenkeith
3. “Persuasive Technology” from Let’s Know Things – A podcast about context and the news.

NP: Lovely Standards/Amel Larriuex

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 12 – 12 Aug 18

Greetings all…

The weekend is gone that quick…what else is new? It was a good one nonetheless, outside of my broken sleep patterns via trying to see the launch on Saturday morning. It was a success this morning at 3:30 am or so (I didnt wake up for it, but will be checking out the replay when I get to work tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a shot of the Delta IV heavy lofting Parer Soar Probe into space, courtesy a Twitter post:

Question…how many of you are into tracking your quantified self? I’ve been using an app called Gyroscope, the free version. I primarily use it as an add-on to my Apple Watch fitness track data. Gyroscope has some great features and a privacy mode, but as with many apps, I often wonder how the collected data is being used. The quantified self movement was very big some years ago and a friend of mine on Twitter is actually featured on Gyroscopes site as an avid user of the paid app. We had an interesting discussion about what he thinks about all the many types of quantified data he shares. In short, I’m still not certain if I could go to the extent of data sharing that he (or many do), even though we have our “always-on” mobile phones. From my understanding, the whole aspect of tracking one’s quantified data is to make improvements to yourself over time. It’s the data aggregation aspects that still don’t sit 100% well with me, though I admit there is lot to be seen from such data over time. Id be interested in your thoughts.

On the productivity front, I came across another interesting article that I was discussing with DarrenKeith, my brother in podcasting, blogging, and tech. Ironically, I received the latest Fast Company in the mail yesterday. There is a sidebar to an article in there that speaks to the subject of this article – Why productivity isn’t the only thing your smartphone is stealing from you. I think there are points in it we all can relate to. FB and IG are creating ways to cause us to spend less time on our mobile devices and there are a lot of apps that are made to do the same (although that whole approach seems like an oxymoron – spending less time on your phone my checking apps that help….that are on your phone….ok.). Then there is this approach of changing your mobile phone’s colors to grayscale. Supposedly this is less appealing than the colors we adore (there have been studies) and as a result, we’ll want to look at them less.

My solution – just put the phone down.

Have a good week.

Doug

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 10 – 10 Aug 18

Hello…. and the weekend is here! In a way, it’s been a long one (work wise I guess), but Friday did get here kinda quick so I guess they cancel each other out. I’m sitting in Starbucks, with a cup of ice that is displacing 14.5 oz of Teavana Craft Iced Tea – Peach Green Tea. I’m sorta working/sorta decompressing with some me time before heading home. I’m debating getting up and leaving my warm bed at 2:30am to go to work for the social event they are having to witness the launch of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft. The launch is scheduled for 3:33 am on a Delta IV rocket, courtesy of United Lauch Alliance.

Why is this launch special? It’s the first mission I worked on since returning back to the satellite/space exploration business. Though I didn’t work on it nearly as long as the other missions I’ve been working on for the last eight months, the company I work for built this spacecraft for NASA. So, that said, I may just do that. The second good part is that I get a crazy early start to my Saturday! LOL. We’ll see.

No articles to share today about the social media sabbatical. I did have a short chat with a friend who says she is thinking of cutting back a bit. I’m just gaining daily insight everyday overall. This isn’t the first time I left FB, but it is the first time leaving both FB and Instagram for this long together.

Anyway, that’s about it. If this is the first post you’re reading about the title subject, feel free to start at 1 August to catch up, if you’re so inclined.

Have a good weekend….
Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 9 – 09 Aug 18

Greetings all…

A fair amount of things are on my plate at work, but I kinda fell back today to spending a little too much time on Twitter. I gathered a lot of resources with respect to the #100DaysOfCode campaign I’m involved in, but nonetheless, I’m bent on maximizing the insight I can out of this sabbatical. I was telling DarrenKeith that after nine days in, I’m starting to realize it wasn’t necessarily the need to kill the habit of constantly scrolling social media solely…now I’m starting to see the component also involves how much I keep checking my phone for way more than making/receiving calls. That, in itself, is a factor in the grand scheme of this experiment.

I found another article today that addresses this very same mindset…and some of it, no…a lot of it, walked right down my street: Why productivity isn’t the only thing your smartphone is stealing from you

There are tons of articles out on the interwebs like this, yeah, I get it, but there are a few points here that really resonated with me.

1. Dopamine has us hooked on tech.
We receive small shots of dopamine we receive every time we open a notification…check for text replies, scroll the net, etc. Instead of letting the mind be quiet or think on or of other things, or even being bored (*gasp*), human nature sets in, feening for that rush.

2. If you work a 9–5, I would go as far as to say that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to leave your smartphone out in your car and only allow yourself to check it during lunch and then again after work.

I tried this – even bought a Trac Phone to have my calls forwarded to me at my desk during the day. I have to say it did work, and I began to see this next point, owever, after the timeframe I bought ended, it was back to taking my phone into the building.

3. As you spend more and more time away from your phone, what you will find is that your focus sharpens, your quality of work improves drastically and your creativity runs wild.

Here’s a prime example. I will admit that I have always carried my phone everywhere I went – even into the rest room for that “breaktime” where I could check social, etc etc. Over the last two days, I stopped that. Today, I went down the first floor, taking the stares, and clearly got the vision of something that is going to help me better achieve the solution of a problem I’m working on. Had I been getting that dopamine shot as usual, I might have missed that opportunity.

My desire is to go back to #2 in order to minimize the effect of #2 so I can widely realize #3.

Time for some coding.

peace,
Fresh.

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Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 7 – 07 Aug 18

One week, people. This is the longest I’ve gone without Facebook and Instagram together. In this one week, I’ve learned some things, been enlightened, etc. One of the things I HAVE noticed it is this – it’s not necessarily ONLY the time spent aimlessly (sometimes, that is) scrolling social media BUT the time spent on the phone doing it. The more I have the phone on me, the more prone I am to scroll these sites, eating up my time. By habit, I still pick up my phone to do it when it appears I have idle time (which, in reality, I rarely do), only to remember those apps are no longer on my phone. That said, the habit not to do it (because I can’t) is slowly starting to form.

I don’t access FB or IG at work, so I’m starting to realize I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would. At least, what I believe will happen is, whenever I do go back to using either site, the habit will be formed that I will spend far less time on them – at least that is the desire. In light of things, over the past two days, I’ve been thinking about this:

Instagram, my personal feed to be specific, is what I am thinking of deleting. It’s strictly where I share photos BUT what is it netting me? Instagram has some fantastic photography, don’t get me wrong, but it is really more of a social media site and a branding tool. *I* am not a brand. Yes, I’ve found content worth reposting and hope that my content is worthwhile (I’ve been told by a follower that my positive contributions to his feed) as well. I get that, and I appreciate it, but again, what is it netting me? How is it helping me move forward in attaining any specific goal? I’ve told many of my disdain for certain aspects of IG – bot followers, bot friend requests, having to delete followers that post things I really don’t care for: viral videos, overkill memes, etc (none of which I can control), but I still love the beauty of photography, without the social media mess that comes with it. Filters, yeah they have their place, and one is not forced to use them, but again, they are another feature that I can live without.

Flickr, on the other hand, is where I started sharing photos prior to IG. It now offers 1TB of storage, shows the EXIF data of every pic you upload, has specific user groups, and has, what I consider to be, better user commentary without the social media branding and foolishness. I’m considering getting a digital SLR sometime in the future, as my love of photography is returning, The current camera I have is a Nikon Coolpix L810. Nice camera that my wife gave me for a gift 4 years ago, but it has a fixed lens and it’s not as fast (mechanically) as I’d like so…

I do have a fitness account on IG which I will keep, as well as two music production sites that are strictly branding tools, but for my personal Instagram, that may very well be going by the wayside. The thought process continues…

I’ve had some interesting discussions with DarrenKeith about the constructs of Facebook and ironically just came across this blog post about a construct called Blogmesh (see the last paragraph and associated link). Sounds promising for those of us that like to blog.

Thanks for the read,

peace,
Fresh

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 5 – 05 Aug 18 – Buh Bye FB phone app

Hello all…

So, for the past five days, I’ve been waxing philosophically about the results, merits, etc, of now scrolling social media. I don’t really miss FB (although I did wind of people in the Apple Watch Fitness Fans Group, of which I am one of the, and most active posting, admins) posting about me in reference to a topic. One of the membes, who convinced me to tell the group I was gonna be AWOL for August, said…”Doug’s on social media sabbatical, LOL” (what’s with the “LOL”? #eyeroll…hahah).

I decided I was going to post everyday of this journey, and I will hold fast to that. What I do see happening is once it becomes more habit and less getting used to, the posts may become shorter, but thats cool. Part of this exercise is really to see what I activities I end up substituting for the scroll time. They’ll be varied, I’m sure, but it’s certain that making time to learning this coding language, Python, will be one. So far it’s going well. I’m developing a project while doing tutorials (the best way to learn is to do). I’ve created a sub page here on my blog for that. I’ll be posting there more, as well as on my exercise and fitness sub page. As my friend-in-sabbatical, DarrenKeith said today, the absence of the scroll, has made blogging refreshing again. Definitely check out his blog – This World My Life

One thing I do know is after five days, I’m certain the FB app will not be back on my phone. Instagram, that’s a different story because it’s used for my music production and film scoring branding (at least for now). The key thing with any social app, overall, is to “control the scroll”

This is one of these short posts, it appears.

Have a great night (or day, evening, etc).

peace,
Fresh

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 4 – 04 Aug 18 – Phone Usage/”Attention Residue”

Ahh yes…Saturday greetings. Hope yours is going or went well. I got up later than I wanted to (if you want to call 8:30 am late). Getting up no later than 7am on a Saturday (a free one, where I don’t have to go choir musicians rehearsal at 8 am), is what I like to do because it seems like I get more out of the day. My body this morning, on the other hand, thought differently. In any event, I got up, with my phone by my bedside, and realized and remembered that I deleted the Facebook and Instagram apps – which means that there is nothing to scroll through as I used to do so many mornings before even getting ready for the day. The Twitter app, however, I still had on my phone for the convenience of posting my #100DaysOfCode status.

I went downstairs, made breakfast (omlettes) and proceed to eat and decided to click on the Medium app to see if there were any interesting stories to read. Once again, ironically, I came across this one: The Benefits of Unplugging and Choosing To Be Present. Of course, this was a must read. Yeah, I know, there are plenty of similar stories out there on this very topic…I get it, but I still choose to read each one I come across, just in case there is a new perspective not formerly mentioned. What I found reiterated in this story is this (because it walked right down my street):

“For everyone else who finds themselves pulling out their phone when they have a free fifteen seconds, this was eye-opening. It seemed as if every free moment, I’d reach into my pocket looking for a convenient distraction. And sacrifice any opportunity for deep reflection. In the words of Dr. Daniel Levitin:

“Every time you shift your attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage a neurochemical switch that uses up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. So if you’re attempting to multitask, you know, doing four or five things at once, you’re not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, you’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.”

I say reiterated because earlier this year, I read one of the most compelling (to me) books on productivity that I’ve come across – “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. I turned my friend, Calandra Branch on to this book as well She read it and can attest to it’s greatness. In this book, Cal mentioned the same thing but in slightly greater detail. In Chapter 1, he writes about what scientists believe the foundation of why deliberate practice works – myelin.

“Myelin is a layer of fatty tissue that grows around neurons, acting like an insulator that allows the cells to fire faster and cleaner…This new science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you cevelop more myelin around the relevant brain neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit to fire more effortlessly and effectively, To be great at something is to be well myelinated…it provides a neurological foundation for why deliberate practice works. By focusing intensely on a specific skill, your forcing the specific relevant circuit to fire, again and again, in isolation…The reason, therefore, why it;s important to focus intensely on the task at hand while avoiding distraction is because this the only way to isolate the relevant neural circuit enough to trigger useful myelin.”

Whether you believe in this neurological correlation or not, I happen to believe its true by experience (he also writes about “attention residue” – when multitask, there’s a “residue” from the previous task that will lessen the attention/focus you will spend on your current task. The key is (as illogical as it may seem to some, is to avoid the facade of multitask (seemingly getting more things done in less time( and create time blocks to do focused work in sequence. Intense focus during a block of time leads to great productivity.

The whole reaching for the phone thing in any bit of free time applies to me. Thinking I was using that time to constantly learn more in my free time is a logical thought, but truth be told, more of that free time (small as it may have been at times) I found myself scrolling and participating in social media. For that reason, this morning, I deleted Twitter from my phone as well.

As a result, what I REALLY noticed in day 4, is that I had less reason to want to carry my phone around with me. It made me realize that it was JUST the social media apps on there, but the need to want to use the phone to connect virtually anywhere besides social media. It was a necessary and revealing thought. Today the phone was with me less and less. As for Twitter, I’l post my coding status via computer only.

I’m learning….

Thanks for the read…
Fresh!

Social Media Sabbatical (SMS): Day 1 – 01 Aug 18 – The Reasons

Greetings All.

Here we are again. Over the last month (particularly the latter half), I began to take stock of how much time I was spending time on social media and what the spent time is actually netting me and allowing me to move forward to achieve the goals (of many sorts) I’d like to achieve. In other words, what’s my return on investment (ROI)? In the grand scheme, I determined that ROI wasn’t amounting to as much as I’d it to be.

How did I come about that decision. I reached it in two ways. The first was noticing how many times each day I looked at wasn’t completed on my to-do list and the amount of times I complained that if I hadn’t spent the time posting, reading, and scrolling my social media haunts (primarily Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), I would have accomplished more on that list.

Sure some of that surfing/reading allowed me to gain some knowledge about some things that would benefit me now and in the future, BUT, it still left me lacking in the completion department.

That said, I decided to get off all three for the entire month of August (the exception being posting to Twitter with regards to the rules of the #100DaysOfCode campaign I’m involved in. My long time friend, fellow geek, and podcaster, DarrenKeith Wyatt, has vowed to take the same sabbatical with me, so I guess you can call us “accountability partners”.

We’ll see how far this thing takes us, day by day, in hopes of providing a true picture and realization of just how much spending time on social media (more importantly how you spend it) can affect (negatively or positively) the forward motion, productivity, and goal reaching you hope to attain

Thanks for the read.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh

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HNY 2017 – Creativity – a way forward

new_way_forward

Greetings readers and Happy 2017 to you. I hope the new year finds (and will continue to) you well. It was an unseasonable 55 degF today and sunny – a quiet day at that, one I couldn’t ask more of.

Interestingly enough, as 2016 was coming to a close, I had a discussion with two FB friends. Our talk essentially centered around the use of FB and other social media venues with respect to things the three of us were doing more of before social media REALLY became big (Note: we are still doing these things in the midst of social media, but not as much as we once did). The three areas I’m speaking of are: photography (digital), music (production and live), and blogging. Add to that a fourth friend who gave opinion on reading FB content which is believe to be “foolishnes” (for the most part). I don’t necessarily agree TOTALLY with that sentiment, HOWEVER, I can truly understand why that opinion was given (which, incidentally, does not solely align itself with FB alone). Of course, this discussion appears to be common as it relates to the new year, resolutions (which I don’t due), blah, blah, blah.

I’ve been blogging since 2007. The original concept for vibesnscribes was two fold – Vibes: (blogging about music, specifically about reviews of the artists and genres I enjoy) and Scribes: general topics that interest me. The latter always took place but the former quickly became more work than I wanted because it took time to succinctly post reviews of what I was listening to in a way that I found complete and satisfactory. Eventually I became interested in podcasting and produced The Sunday Soundtrack. The podcast then aligned itself with the “Vibes” portion of the concept

In any event, the conversation ended up basically summarizing the fact that we will return to doing these (enjoyable) things while diminishing the distractions of these big social media juggernauts like FB and IG. One of us said he is about to leave FB for good, because it is a massive timesuck abd detrimental to the creative process. Personally, I strongly believe that, in the end, spending whatever time one spends on things (social media, in this case) is a matter of choice. Social media, in and of itself, was not designed to become a major distraction, it’s just inherent to be by nature (human nature, that is). When trying to achieve anything, one statement stands true for sure: Starve your distractions – feed your focus. Do what’s necessary to reach the goal. It’s definitely one good recipe for a successful way forward. Your thoughts?

Be well,
Fresh!