Awareness: 1/21/2018

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and things have fallen off the tracks a bit. I’m still vape free, and I’m very proud of that. This is the longest I’ve been without nicotine since I started smoking when I was 15. I’m currently without nicotine for a little over two weeks.

I’ve weakened a bit in the other areas of this experiment. The phone has slowly been creeping back up on me. It’s the strangest thing. It’s almost as if the very act of being in modern society makes the allure of technology irresistible.

We tell ourselves all kinds of lies to contort ourselves into a posture that is pleasurable for our technological overlords. We say that we keep our Facebook open so that people will know how to reach us. We convince ourselves to chronically read the same developing news story over and over again, seeking out the latest information, in order to piece together story that hasn’t fully happened yet, and isn’t relevant to our lives anyway.

Most people think that Facebook is so convenient that they can’t live without it, that it enables them to reconnect with people who have since fallen out of their orbits, and to keep tabs on what our collective hive-mind is thinking or feeling at that exact moment. They value the messenger functions that allow friends (who don’t have their phone number) to find and communicate with them. But I didn’t give my phone number to those people for a reason, and now I’ve willingly handed over the ability for anyone to reach out and touch me in my own home. Every time my phone vibrates, it could be potentially anyone I’ve ever come in contact with, and that’s horrifying to me.

I decided to deactivate my Facebook today as a rebellion against myself and my inability to stop the re-encroachment of mindless consumption of useless information.

I’ve caught myself falling back into old habits of behavior, and I’ve neglected my writing project here.

My short lived meditation project proved entirely too inconvenient and painful for me to continue for any meaningful length of time. I plan to pick that up in earnest in the future, and maybe re-evaluate how I want to add the routine to my life.

I found Reddit and Google News installed on my phone. I was the one to reinstall them, of course, but when I discovered myself mindlessly scrolling and wasting time one morning while my wife sat across from me, I had a moment where I returned to myself. I had been sleepwalking, aware and unaware of my actions at the same time. It was like the apps appeared on my phone of their own volition, and I was powerless to resist them. I deleted them that day, and I’ve been trying to devise a way to keep myself from redownloading them.

My first idea, and the one that I will try in the short term, is to surround myself with more light reading types of books. My natural inclination is to pick books that are strenuous, difficult, and packed full of mind altering ideas. These books are great whenever I’m full of the mental energy needed to fight through their pages. After a long day of teaching, I’m not able to read them for more than a few minutes, and so I fall back into my habit of reading headlines and flipping through gifs of people falling in hilarious ways. So I went to a local thrift store and grabbed a couple novels (some Michael Crichton and Stephen King books) that still have some literary value, but are interesting enough in plot to pull me along at the end of the day.

For my news fix, I’m going to limit myself only to three news sources: my local newspaper, NPR, and Harper’s Magazine. I’ll read my local newspaper when it comes out once a week. I’ll listen to NPR in the mornings as I make my breakfast and get dressed, and I’ll add Harper’s Magazine into my rotation of bedtime and early morning reading. I’m hoping that Harper’s will give me more of an in depth look at trends in society. They tend to lean to the left, but they publish news, commentary, and fiction. They’re much more literary than The Atlantic, but they seem a little more nuanced in their world view than The New Yorker. I’m going to try them for a couple months and then decide if I want to keep the subscription. I tried reading The Guardian everyday, and I respect their journalism, but I just felt like it was boring and a little more Eurocentric a news source than I’m looking for, and this boredom and frustration eventually lead to my resuming my headline scrolling.

This should limit my compulsory consumption of information. I will be limited, and the sources I’m choosing to consume should be higher quality, and they should be more enjoyable.

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