Category Archives: misc

facebook free february

For the month of February, an Irish NGO issued a challenge to quit Facebook. Just for the month (though you can go longer if you’d like). The idea behind it is to examine your connection with social media (vs the real world). The hope is that, for the month, a person can reframe their relationship with online and outside, and maybe fill those now-vacant hours with other activities (going for a walk, a show, dinner; learning a new hobby; writing?).

I’m not one of the people who think Facebook (and other forms of social media) is a menace, though I can certainly see how it can be addictive for some, or a replacement for “in person” interaction for others. I can also see how it can create a skewed perspective of the world (a la internet trolldom). Of course, the things we see in others are often the last things we see in ourselves, so I could be fooling myself when I say I think my relationship with social media, although very deep, is healthy. Nevertheless, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, are useful tools for me to stay in touch with friends from around the world. They are also great sources of information – either through links posted, or through status updates/tweets/photos from people “on the ground”, as it were.

Of course, social media’s big drawback in all of this is that you curate your feeds. You only see what you wish to see, and if you don’t wish to see it, you can unfriend, unfollow, block, mute, etc. In some ways, I can see how this can polarize further our societies, and also how it can translate to “real life” in the sense that people can find it so easy to turn away from things they find unpleasant or distasteful. Of course, we do this all the time, turning off the TV or not reading the newspaper, but the difference with social media is the social aspect – it is a conversation with others that is being turned off, not a one-way push of news.

I do think social media can be a means by which “offline” life could be bettered. For example, social media could be a place to learn to skillfully manage conflict such that could be applicable in real life, but unfortunately, it becomes a way to tune out. It also becomes a way to hide behind anonymity or firewalls and not have to take responsibility for, or face the consequences of, hateful or offensive speech. People say things on the internet that they would be unlikely to say to another person’s face. The internet free-for-all, while a great equalizer for free speech, also becomes a breeding ground for hate. I suspect that in coming decades, we will learn to harness the strengths of social media for better in-person interaction, but for now we’re just children with new toys and we’re still trying to figure out the rules.

So, I’m 8 days in now on my own social media experiment. I’ve stayed off Facebook this time, though I’ve been tempted to log on and see what my friends are up to. One thing I realized is that I can use this time away to have some more personal interactions with people, so I’ve started reaching out to people to set up skype calls. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I seem to have a lot more time to watch Netflix and read. For the former, I’ve made a queue of interesting documentaries that I hope to check out in the coming weeks. But on the reading front, I managed to read 2 books since late Jan to now, and I’ve got a whole list in my Nook app to still check out. I also bought a book recently (actual tangible pages to touch!) and I’m excited to read it too.

I do miss talking to friends, and there are a few who I know are going through difficult times and I regret not being there to see how they are doing. I could do it on email, but sometimes the collective approach of the group is more comforting. Of course, this “ban” on Facebook is not absolute, and I could always go back if I wanted to. But for now, I’m exploring the possibility of taking this time for myself, and seeing to some personal needs.

One thing I thought would happen though – I thought I would have more time for writing. I do seem to be getting more work done, so maybe I’ve filled some hours with that, and I am spending more time on Twitter (something that should be addressed too, though Twitter fills a different niche for me). But I haven’t been blogging more, so I think it’s time I turned my attention to that.

Tagged , , , , , ,

a lot can happen in a year

I have to get the hang of this posting frequently business.  I thought that I would be lazy on blogging because I had nothing to say.  It turns out, the busier you are and the more you do things, the less often you blog.  I’m not sure if it is because of the time commitment, the attention span, or something else.

A lot has happened since the last post, and since before then too.  In fact, a lot has happened in the past year, which lends credence to the whole “a lot can happen in a year” cliche.  Because, you know, it’s so true.   Let me serve as an example.

This time last year, I was sitting on a beach in Kerala thinking about which book I wanted to read next and whether I’d wake up early enough for morning yoga.  I had a “routine” of sorts: wake up, maybe take yoga, grab a late breakfast (kerala coffee, whole wheat toast with pb, maybe fruit and yogurt, or even an omelette), sit on a terrace, watch the ocean, check some email, window shop, dip my toes in the water, take another yoga class, rinse, repeat.  On March 2nd, I left India for Malaysia, where I spent 3 weeks in Borneo pretty much doing the same thing (minus the yoga, plus more alcohol).

That was my life, basically until late May.  I did return to the US in early April, but, with no job as yet, I headed back to Asia for a couple more weeks – a last hurrah maybe – before finally returning and settling into the 9-5.  And so, right around Memorial Day weekend, I started a job, which, for the second half of 2010, basically consumed my life.

But it wasn’t the only thing – the end of the year was also marked with the entry into a yoga teacher training program, which proceeded to eat up any leftover free time I had (after work sucked most of it).  What a change from counting coconuts in palm trees from the second floor terrace of a beachside hotel.

The beginning of 2011 saw the end of teacher training, which I suppose means I am now a yoga teacher.  It also saw more long work hours, and in a few days, will see the move back into a permanent home of sorts.

And I’m leaving out a couple of trips to Ireland, two other moves, and a gym membership that I definitely do not make the most of…

So, in a year I went from wandering aimlessly for several months around Asia, to taking on an important and intensive work committment, to moving and moving again, to starting and completing yoga teacher training, to the beginning of a nest.

A lot certainly can happen in a year.

Tagged , , , , ,

reverse culture shock

I’m not actually sure what that term means, but someone asked if I was experiencing it upon my return to the US.   Well.  I haven’t been gone that long.  But a lot has changed in America, most notably in politics.  There’s this whole lunatic fringe now, which I suppose might have existed before but has some how gained some sort of legitimacy.  From outside the US, Americans looks a little crazy.

And then some things haven’t changed at all.  We still eat the most disgusting foods (and too much of them), we still buy way too much stuff, we still love our professional sports players.

I did come back before tax day, so I do get to take advantage of the freebies that many places offer to “ease taxpayer woes” (because a free doughnut will go a long way for that).

Other than that, there’s really not all that different from America and the rest of the world.  Today’s headlong rush into globalization is shrinking the culture gaps, especially as American culture continues its pervasive spread overseas.  It’s really not that hard to come back and re-assimiliate…. except of course, I will definitely not be able to go to the spa nearly as often as I used to.

Tagged ,

happy new year

I have 6 days left in Mongolia, before I depart for a few months of travel and then head back to the US.  Time flies!  All travel posts will be here.

Tagged