Going Dark / Day 1 of 365

I have an unhealthy relationship with social media.

Using social media should be simple; login, use it for what it was designed for, and logout. The difficulty is that I don’t logout anymore – mentally or digitally.

I’ve never considered myself a heavy user of social media. I only pull out my phone a couple times a day, I don’t have any games installed, and I don’t even have Facebook downloaded.

Despite this conviction, I almost always collapse on my bed and open Instagram when I get home from work. It’s usually followed by Facebook. Then sometimes I meander to Reddit or YouTube – and an hour or two disappears.

Responsibility

I started to notice the personal impacts of social media when I moved across the country in 2013. I used Facebook to stay in touch with my long-distance friends. Over time, I realized that I was spending too much time online – I’d scroll so far through Facebook that I would arrive at posts I’d already seen. Despite this, I’d continue to scroll through the content again to see if there was anything new (there wasn’t).

A couple times, I deleted all social media apps from my phone until I felt comfortable without them. To avoid push notifications, I tried only opening the social media through Google Chrome. I’ve even fasted from my phone by turning it off for a week. Each time I’ve always gone back to using the apps.

It’s both fortunate and unfortunate that I’m the only one responsible for this. It’s easy to say, “just have enough will-power to stop” or “if it’s that bad for you, delete them and move on”. I have the power to do that – but for some reason I can’t make that leap, nor do I want to in the long term.

Big Picture

Social media has ingrained itself so deep within our culture that despite privacy concerns, known associated psychological health issues, and the visible obsession we have with this technology – we still use it.

Though, the point isn’t to escape like a hermit into the mountains. The internet has revolutionized communication, and we shouldn’t step back from innovation. But when the innovation has become so addictive, and the technology so psychologically manipulative, we need to take a step back and evaluate where we are going.

Psychological Warfare

Leaving social media isn’t difficult from a technical standpoint – most websites only take a few clicks if you know where to look. Instead, these sites focus on manipulating you into using their flashy apps and they make themselves appear as though they are the only way that friends can stay in contact.

Take Facebook for example; prior to deactivating your account, you are brought to a page displaying 5 profile pictures of your friends. The screen reads: “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” Below that, it says “Your __ friends will no longer be able to keep in touch with you”. Then, above each friends picture, “_(name of friend)_ will miss you”.

Other sites remove features if you don’t use their dedicated app. Instagram doesn’t allow users to view “liked” images in a browser. Facebook doesn’t allow you to view messages on mobile in browser – you must download their Facebook Messenger app.

A whole blog post could be dedicated to the ways that these sites psychologically manipulate you. The point is; you can live without them, despite what they say.

Starting a Project

For the next year, I’m deactivating my social media accounts and abstaining from using social media and similar websites.

Although there are other strategies to lessen use of social media, I feel like I’ve exhausted many of them. I’ve removed the apps from my phone. I’ve taken weeks off and left my phone at home. I’m used apps like “Offtime” to monitor my app usage. Every time I come back to the addiction.

My intention is to spend more time “Going Dark”. I’ve borrowed this expression, which loosely means, “To disappear; to become suddenly unavailable or digitally out of reach” (source). I’ll use this express to describe completely disconnecting (i.e. turning my phone off or leaving it at home, being unable to be reached).

My hope is to develop a healthier relationship with social technologies. During the fast, I want to focus on other aspects of my life that have been neglected – I have a stack of books I need to catch up on, my photography has taken the back burner in the last few years, and even my writing is… well, it needs work.

Too long; didn’t read (or conclusion)

I have an unhealthy relationship with how I use social media. Sometimes I spend hours scrolling through memes and old content when I should be doing other things.

Social media can be psychologically manipulative. Just try to leave it and you’ll see the passive-aggressive nature of some of these sites.

Although social media has potentially harmful risks associated with it, ultimately I’m responsible for correctly using it.

To work on my relationship with social media, I’m abstaining from using it for one year. I’ll continue to blog (without a schedule, definitely not daily). Though, I plan on ‘going dark’ (disconnecting completely, leaving my phone at home and turned off) every now and then.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’m working on building this website. If you have any questions or want to say “hi”, feel free to drop a comment below (no WordPress account necessary).

Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?

Yes.

1/365

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Another Beginning

I read somewhere that it’s good for the heart to break. When we experience loss or pain, we crack away at our hearts. Eventually, after we’ve torn enough walls down, the core is exposed. All that’s left is love.

Over the last month, my life has changed dramatically. Expectations about the coming months and years rapidly dissolved. My heart was continuously shattered. Relationships I thought were building crumbled, places I had settled in my mind suddenly began to expire, and the presumptions I had about the coming years painfully disappeared.

As I began to look at what I struggled with, I realized that I stopped expressing myself. Somewhere I ceased to do what I was passionate about. For that reason, I’ve returned to blogging for another year.

This round, I am removing the rules from the other years. I will say whatever I need to with as many, or as few, words as I want. The goal is to write everyday but I won’t hold it against myself if I skip writing occasionally. Subject matter will vary and the medium may change. While I enjoy blogging, the point is to express. Some days I may write, while others I vlog or paint.

I want to tear down as many boundaries as possible; I want my heart to break open. Above all, I want to share this passion with you for another year. So here’s another beginning to 365 more glorious days and all that may come with them.

Page 1 of 365

Ad Infinitum

It’s been over a month since I completed a writing 365 project. Since then, I’ve only written a couple of articles. The amount of time I spend on this site has dramatically reduced and I want to change that. For an entire year I sat down each day and wrote. Many of the posts were useless and junk but there was consistency.

Yet, doing another 365 project wouldn’t be satisfying. I don’t want to write daily as a goal or a challenge. I want to write simply because I’m passionate about it. There is no visible endpoint to that. I can’t say that I need to write daily for another year because I know that I want to keep writing past that.

There are other artists, whom I admire, that have done 3 or more years of art projects. Their passion is incredible but I feel like I’ve been measuring myself against them. If only I created as often as them, then I will feel content. But this simply isn’t the case. My passion cannot be measured against another’s. Then it’s not true passion, it’s envy or desire to be like them. This is why I cannot do another year of photographing or writing.

That being said, I will be creating more. It won’t always be on this blog either. Sometimes it’ll be taking pictures or YouTube. It may be scribbles on Twitter or a few pictures on Instagram. I can’t promise consistency on any medium but I can say that I will be creating more.

Also, as I sifted through 2014’s blog posts, I realized that I don’t really write about my life. For the most part, I tried to remain relatable to others. What I did write about myself was cryptic. It’s hard to talk about my life sometimes because I’m not sure if other people will understand it. My hardships feel different from other’s.

My perspective on myself changes constantly as well. Some days I feel like I have it figured out. Why I chased after that boy or how volunteering at that one event changed the course of the next six months. Other days I feel like everyone else is smarter than me and I feel like a child in a room full of adults. This makes my writing incredibly inconsistent.

Regardless, it’s important that I write because it makes me work on myself. It challenges me to reach out to other artists, to look at myself from many perspectives, and to focus on accomplishing something. This writing, whether it be hideous or fantastic, is my work. I own it as a piece of me. With that being said, I don’t see an end to creating. It’s like the blood that flows through my veins; coursing through every facet of my body and nourishing my soul.

While I can’t promise where we’ll go or what we’ll do, I hope that you’ll join me. I don’t know who you are or what your intentions are but I hope you choose to share yourself, to be completely you, to be unadulterated, and to share that with the world. That’s my intention with this site and I hope you’ll be here with me.

With that being said, have a wonderful night and I’ll see you again soon!

 

Day 1

Creating Content

As I sit in our dorm’s community room, I can’t help but look at the others in here who, like me, are scrounging for the free internet. There’s four of us sitting here in each corner of the room, all staring at our computer screens. Two of the guys are watching videos while the other one is playing an online game. They sit entranced by the content that they are viewing and it makes me think about this generation.

With how much focus we put into ingesting internet media, what is our output? The average viewer on YouTube doesn’t make videos. People view so much more content than they create. Think about how many people you’re following on Twitter, Instagram, or how many friends you have on Facebook. What is your view-to-create ratio?

I don’t want to suggest that ingesting media is bad but I can’t help but wonder what we’re contributing. Social media is incredibly interactive and you now have the ability to contact the content creators you admire, yet most people don’t interact with these people. Instead we just wait for more content.

I think that the underlying feeling is “why create in a world full of creators?”. Most people think that they don’t have anything to contribute and therefore they don’t try it. Our generation, in reality, is closer to the stars than any previous generation, yet we also feel the most powerless towards them. You could FB message, Tweet, Instagram, or comment on YouTube to almost any star and maybe get a response.

I don’t have an answer on why you should create or why I create. I just do. Sometimes the content is great, sometimes it’s incredibly boring. But it’s interesting how we live is such a free world but we’re so paralyzed by everything. It’s like sensory overload and too much to handle.

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21/31 Blogtober

There’s a few days left before Blogtober, this is why you should join in!

October is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than to blog! While I’m already writing daily, I want to challenge you to blog for 31 days straight. All you will need is a few spare minutes and a cheerful attitude.

Below I’ve included a few details about the event:

Why do this project?

Blogging is a great way to record your life and express yourself. It’s also a fun way to decompress after a long day. Writing has given me a greater perspective on my life and helped me both set and accomplish my goals. I encourage others to write because it gives you time to contemplate your days and focus your energy into one product.

After only 31 days, you’ll have something to look back at. For some, this project will be easy. Others will find it difficult because they don’t feel like they have anything interesting to share. Take that as motivation to make your life more interesting. Cook new foods and write about it, go to the movies and write a review, try something new and share it! Blogging can be as simple as punching the keys on your computer, all you have to do is reach for the keys.

Who should join in?

I believe that everyone has something to contribute. Writing is a simple way to get your voice out there and to get feedback. When you write on a computer, you have the ability to read what you’ve written. This creates a loop where you can look at your ideas/thoughts from a greater perspective. You can modify them, erase them, bold them, whatever you want.

By interacting with your thoughts, you can start to understand yourself in a new way. You have the ability to see who you are and how you think. There are many days that I write and look back over what I’ve written with much surprise. Sometimes we don’t know what we know. Every person could benefit by spending just 10 minutes a day writing.

How much should I participate?

This is entirely up to you! When I began this 365 project, I set a few rules for myself. I encourage you to find what works best for your writing/blogging needs. These are some of the rules I chose, feel free to adopt a few of them or modify them as needed:

100 words minimum a day!

Writing at least 100 words daily makes the task easy to do but difficult to B.S.. It only takes a few minutes to write and I’ve found that I usually want to write more. 100 words is a strong enough commitment that I can’t just write one sentence.

Guest Blogging/ Collaborations count!

If you get a friend to write on your blog, that counts as a post! Collaboration is a great way to build friendships and to provoke thought. Everyone has a different perspective and a unique style of writing. Guest blogging helps introduce you to other bloggers and new topics that you could potentially write about in the future.

Video Blogging (Also known as “Vlogging”) is acceptable

Videos tend to be more in-depth that text posts for me. I can usually talk about more information while chatting on the camera than typing away. This option allows you to have more variety during your project.

Posts must be made in one conscious period

This means you must post sometime between when you wake up and when you go to bed. Rather than pushing off your writing to the next day, you must do it. It’s just a simple rule that helps regulate your posts. This one is definitely a measure of discipline.

Where should I post?

You can blog anyway! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are all forms of microblogging. While I encourage you to write on a blogging platform like WordPress.com or Blogspot.com, feel free to write anywhere. Blogtober is about your experience of blogging, no matter where you choose to write. It doesn’t matter what you have to say or why you have to say it, only that chose to express it.

 

Happy blogging everyone!

300/365

 

 

Where do you run to?

Running gives me this rush that is really difficult to explain. Runner’s high makes you feel elated or numb but when I run I get goosebumps. It’s like I feel all of my emotions at once and I channel them through my body. Any frustration, depression, loss, loneliness, happiness, or anything else gets expressed with each step. I feel it so deep that the feeling is almost in my bones. The goosebumps on my arms tell me that the feeling is all-encompassing. Depths to surface, it’s my whole body speaking.

When I am running regularly, my diet also regulates. I eat a lot more food but I expend a lot more energy. I can burn through what’s in my body and replace it. It feels like my body is full of stagnant water but when I run it starts cycling. Making my blood flow makes me conscious of my body and weary of anything that could harm it. I drink things like wheat grass instead of grabbing the soda or juice. Eating healthy clears my mind and improves my mood. Therefore, regular exercise helps me clear my mind and improve my mood.

Using all of that energy is a double-sided coin. If I run in the morning, it wakes me up and boosts my mood for the day. If I run in the evening, it knocks me out for the night. Either way, my mood increases and my quality of sleep doubles. All in all, running makes me conscious of my body and willing to work for it. If that means going to bed early, then I will. If that means walking past the ice cream, then I do.

My goal for this week is to wake up at 4:30AM everyday (Monday-Friday) and run. The distance doesn’t matter because once I get out I’ll run no matter what. I need to find something to physically discipline myself. I know that I can blog daily or do a myriad of other things but exercise has always escaped me. Last year I was exercising 5 days a week (mostly swimming) and it was amazing. I felt on top of the world. I don’t expect running to fix my life problems but I want to work on something. It something I feel like I can do and I’m excited to start. I won’t be excited tomorrow at 4:25AM when my alarms go off, but in the end it will pay off. Running has always done something to my head, I guess we’ll have to see where this first week takes me!

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I work out!

As promised, I went to the gym this morning to lift weights. This is the first time in at least a year that I’ve went to the gym to lift weights. I can’t remember ever doing it regularly though. I went at the crack of dawn 0500 when they opened. It was amazing to get the fresh air so early in the morning and to arrive with virtually nobody there.

It was so relieving and exciting that I think I’m going to go the gym every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, until my body gets used to it. I love the feeling and I’m excited to start going more often. It gets me pumped up inside to have something new to do!

150/365