About right…


The New Yorker Magazine

I carry my phone around with me as if it were an oxygen tank

I carry my phone around with me as if it were an oxygen tank. I stare at it while I make breakfast and take out the recycling, ruining what I prize most about working from home—the sense of control, the relative peace. I have tried all sorts of things to look at screens less often: I don’t get push notifications or use Facebook or watch Instagram stories; on my home computer, I have installed a browser plug-in called StayFocusd, which turns off Twitter after forty-five minutes of daily use. On my phone, I use an app called Freedom to block social media for much of the workday. If any of my digital chastity belts malfunction, I start scrolling like a junkie, pulling myself away just long enough to send frantic e-mails to the apps’ customer service with subject lines like “Freedom not working!” …

Nearly three-quarters of Americans have taken steps to distance themselves from Facebook. Entire families try to observe a “digital Sabbath.” Parents seek screen-time alternatives to the Jungian horrorscape that is children’s YouTubeAnd yet a mood of fidgety powerlessness continues to accumulate, like an acid snowfall on our collective mind…

One afternoon, I draped myself on my couch and felt an influx of mental silence that was both disturbing and hallucinatorily pleasurable. I didn’t want to learn how to fix or build anything, or start a book club. I wanted to experience myself as soft and loose and purposeless, three qualities that, in my adulthood, have always seemed economically risky. Nothing is harder to do than nothing,” Jenny Odell writes, in her new book,How to Do Nothing.” …Odell details, with earnest wonder, moments in her life when she was reoriented toward these values. After the 2016 election, she began feeding peanuts to two crows on her balcony, and found comfort in the fact that “these essentially wild animals recognized me, that I had some place in their universe.” …

On the first day of April, I took stock of my digital experiment. I had not become a different, better person. I had not acquired any high-value leisure activities. But I had felt a sort of persistent ache and wonder that pulled me back to a year that I spent in the Peace Corps, wandering in the dust at the foot of sky-high birch trees, terrified and thrilled at the sensation of being unknowable, mysterious to myself, unseen. I watered my plants, and I loosened my StayFocusd settings, back to forty-five daily minutes. I considered my Freedom parameters, which I had already learned to break, and let them be…

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” the philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, in 1654…

Sitting quietly in a room alone is for experts.

~ Jia Tolentino, excerpts from What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away The New Yorker, April 22, 2019


Notes: Essay – Thank you Sawsan for sharing! And publicly highlighting another addiction. Image: Nico Milk

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

For the rest of the week, I became acutely aware of the bizarre phone habits I’d developed. I noticed that I reach for my phone every time I brush my teeth or step outside the front door of my apartment building, and that, for some pathological reason, I always check my email during the three-second window between when I insert my credit card into a chip reader at a store and when the card is accepted.

Mostly, I became aware of how profoundly uncomfortable I am with stillness. For years, I’ve used my phone every time I’ve had a spare moment in an elevator or a boring meeting. I listen to podcasts and write emails on the subway. I watch YouTube videos while folding laundry. I even use an app to pretend to meditate.

If I was going to repair my brain, I needed to practice doing nothing…

It’s an unnerving sensation, being alone with your thoughts.

~ Kevin Roose, from “Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain” in The New York Times, February 23, 2019


Photo: Smartphone by Fernando Assumpcao

Flying North N.E. AA1263. Add, yet another addiction.

 

 

It’s that time again. An updated inventory of Addictions.

  1. iPhone. Like Jenny Erpenbeck’s “Bone to bone, blood to blood, as if (we’re) bonded together.”
  2. Talenti Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato. Heaven in a cup. Sweet Jesus. 3-4 pints a week, minimum.
  3. iPad Pro. Speedy wifi in-flight. Enable online work in both directions.
  4. Sugar. Stonewall Kitchen Sour Cherry Jam. 2.5 heaping tablespoons stirred in with Chobani Fruit on the Bottom Greek Yogurt with Pineapple on the Bottom.
  5. Seat #24 E, Exit Row, AA Airbus A321.  To/fro LGA to DFW. Same seat (or take different flight)
  6. Socks: Ultra thin, over-the-calf knee high. Can’t have hot feet or exposed skin.
  7. Advil PM. Ingest 1/2 pill one hour before bed time.  Insomniacs sleep aid.
  8. Knee pillow. To sleep. Avoid bone to bone contact.

And so here we are.

Dallas, TX. Hotel. Wednesday evening.

I open the Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Earbuds charging case to find the right earbud missing. Major problem. [Read more…]

Running. With Restraint. And With None of It.

What do you excel at?

A) Habitual repeating. (Professional kind)

Consistent, effective execution. Compulsive in following through on commitments. Dependable. You can count on him.

And that’s life isn’t it, the antithesis of what makes you effective at “A”, makes you a disaster a “B”.

B) Habitual repeating, in bulk. (Personal kind. Random, exculpatory list below.)

  • Thoughts. (Swirling, incessant, dark)
  • Doubts. (Many)
  • Food (Binges, sugar, fast food, anything).
  • Running ‘paths’ (Note emphasis on paths and not running, there should be zero inferences to mastery in frequency, distance or pace.)
  • Blog post ‘themes’. (Note emphasis on themes. And no mention of original work.)

How many times can you spout on about the same sh*t? Let’s see. Let’s use metaphors, not your own of course. Because that would take talent, effort. How many times? Richard Powers, “A thousand—a thousand thousand—green-tipped, splitting fingerlings.”

So here we go again. [Read more…]

The Fixer

It doesn’t matter what time of day. My digestif after scrambled eggs at breakfast. A satisfying and necessary fulfiller after lunch. A smooth finisher after dinner. A soothing pre-bed, night time snack. And of course, that something-something between meals.

There it is.

Mint-Chocolate Chip Gelato.

I’m in line at the check-out counter at Palmer’s Market, gripping four (4) cylindrical containers of Talenti Gelato, two pints in each hand. The ice crystals cool the palm of my hand, and I wonder how long it took to ship this gelato from some quaint dairy farm in Southern Italy. A farm that’s been in the same family for hundreds of years. Farm-fresh from cow to these hard plastic cylinders to the freezer at Palmer’s Market, with all of the hand made manufacturing processes in-between. (Gelato, gelato, I find myself repeating gelato and liking it, especially the finish. My lips form an “o” like “o” isn’t this “o” so wonderful).

I move up in line, gently setting the gelatos down on the conveyor. They slide forward.

[Read more…]

Sunday Morning

A few days ago I spent a couple of minutes in St. Mary’s Basilica—it was a weekday—where perhaps a dozen people were kneeling in prayer.

Every now and then someone’s cell phone rang.

Horizontal communication refused to surrender, it kept on battling its vertical counterpart.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay


Notes:

Picture is Worth…


Notes:

 

About right…


Artist: Santiago Vecinoa Concept Artist / Illustrator from Montevideo, Uruguay (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

But I’m starting to believe that this is all madness and that we’re already in way over our heads

IMAGINE IF there were a law decreeing that every citizen had to carry a tracking device and check it five times an hour. This device was to be kept at hand at all times. The law also decreed that you needed to place this device on your bedside table at night, so that it was never more than two feet away from your body, and if you happened to wake up in the middle of the night, then you needed to check it. You had to check it during mealtimes, at sporting events, while watching television. You even needed to sneak a quick peek at it during plays and weddings and funerals. For those unwilling to check their devices at the plays, weddings, and funerals, exceptions would be made—so long as you kept your device on right up until the moment the play, wedding, or funeral was beginning and then turned it on again the second the event was over, checking it as you walked down the aisle toward the exit. Imagine, too, that whenever you went to a concert you weren’t allowed to view the actual concert but instead had to view it through your device, as though every concert were a solar eclipse and you would go blind if you stared at the thing itself. Only if you were holding your device in front of your face and viewing the event on its small screen would you be allowed to experience heightened moments of artistry and life. Such a law would be deemed an insane Orwellian intrusion into our daily freedom, and people would rebel—especially when the law went even further. Imagine that the law decreed that it wasn’t enough to check your machines; you needed to update the world on your activities on not one but several services, posting text, pictures, and links to let everyone know everywhere you went, and everything you ate, and everyone you saw. And when you weren’t posting, the device would be tracking your movements and recording on distant servers where you were, whom you called, and what information you searched for. Of course, these laws aren’t necessary. We do this to ourselves. So we now have to come up with elaborate ways to stop ourselves from engaging in this behavior. There are the restaurant dinners during which everyone puts their devices into the middle of the table, and the first person to reach for hers or his gets stuck with the bill for the whole crowd. There are programs you can buy that allow you to set a timer that keeps you from checking email or using apps or searching the Web for a certain period of time. One of these, in a truly Orwellian turn of phrase, is called Freedom. […]

We also check them too much because we are addicted to them…

We check them because we feel the need…

We check them because we don’t want to miss out. On anything…

I find my little device incredibly seductive…

But I’m starting to believe that this is all madness and that we’re already in way over our heads…

After each one of those tiny dopamine bursts comes a tiny dopamine hangover, a little bit of melancholy as the brain realizes that the thing we crave—to connect—hasn’t really happened at all. It’s like the feeling you get when you anticipate ordering something you love at a restaurant, and do so, and then are told that they just served the last one, and you will need to order something else. A little lift—they have lemon meringue pie—followed by a little fall: not for you. Our technology gives us the simulacrum of a connection but not the real thing.

George Orwell correctly predicted much about our world today.

~ Will Schwalbe, from “1984. Disconnecting.” in Books for a Living


Notes:

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