Category Archives: Technology

Two Sets of Directions and Flippy

Yesterday, I had to go get cups for my second job at Caribou Coffee, because we were running out of large iced cups, and, while you wouldn’t expect to in a place like Minnesota in January, we use a lot of large iced cups. Minnesotans love their cold brew. I had never been to the Caribou Coffee I needed to go, because it is located on the opposite side of the Twin Cities from where I live, and I have no need to ever go there, except to get cups. Normally, I would just plop that address into my iPhone Apple Maps and get there and back with no problem. I panicked for a quick minute, then I used the computer in our weird little backroom, dish room, office area and found the Caribou that had cups and used google maps to find the easiest route. Then I wrote the route out on paper, like I used to write motorcycle routes on my arm in Sharpie marker. Yes, I rode my motorcycle all the way to Florida and back and all the way to Door County and back with only directions in Sharpie marker on my arm. Needless to say, I made it from my Caribou to the Caribou 30 minutes away without incident.

Today, I went to my favorite donut shop, Glam Dolls for breakfast. I navigated my way there with no problem, but they were closed for an extended New Year’s vacation. I was incredibly sad, but my eventual goal was to end up in Roseville, so I could visit my friends at Apple, and so I could grade my students’ work before finishing my quarter three planning after work tomorrow and Friday. As I (very sadly) pulled away from Glam Dolls, I said to myself, good luck getting to Roseville! MNDOT has rerouted the entrance onto 35W from I-94, where I used to use Franklin Street and then cross 5 lanes of traffic on I-94 to exit onto 35W North, and I had to fend for myself, so I just stayed on I-94, thinking that I would eventually bump into something familiar. Just as I had the thought that I might have to stay on I-94 until it merged onto 52, which is way out of the way, exit signs for 280 started popping up, and I vaguely remembered Jack telling me that’s how he gets from where we live to Roseville, so I took the exit and hoped for the best. I am proud to report that I made it to my usual Starbucks without any problems.

*

After a week of being with Flippy (this is what my lovely flip phone will be affectionately called from here on out), I have decided that intentionality is one side effect of flip phone use. Everything I do with Flippy is very intentional. Texts take three to four times as long to write, so I ask myself if I really need to say what I am about to say. Is what I am about to type really worth all of the tapping and strange navigation on the phone? I am much more thoughtful about what I put out there, because what I put out there takes more work. Another thing about being intentional is that I can’t just look things up on a whim, because I have to be near my computer. I wondered, this morning at 4:38 when I woke up for the first time—when is the first official day of baseball season? Thursday, March 28 if you need to know— and normally I would’ve grabbed my phone, looked it up, and gone down a rabbit hole of looking at things. Instead, I wondered it, said to myself, “Look that up later, Self,” and then went back to sleep for another hour or so.

Finally, I am finding that this experiment is doing just what I had hoped. Because texting is so labor intensive, I have made more phone calls to people in the past week than I have in probably the past year. I usually have three people who I call on a regular basis (and if you ask them, they will tell you it is very irregular): Bec, Merideth, and Amy. I rarely call anyone else. In the past week, I’ve talked with my parents (twice), my brother (twice), Bec (several times), and a couple of other people. Already, this feels like the best thing that’s happened to me in a while.

 

Kyocera Cadence; DK Standrick

This morning I tried to activate my new phone, but it didn’t work when I tried to follow Verizon’s instructions on their website, so I called and got help from a very nice and knowledgeable woman who activated it with little to no difficulty.

I am nervously excited.

In a nostalgic moment, I was excited to text with the old key pad, but that excitement quickly wore off when I realized how labor intensive texting like that can be. I figure this will just force me to call people more frequently, since I won’t want to type out long messages one letter (up to four clicks) at a time. Here’s a quick “I’m sorry” to all of those people who, like me, hate to talk on the phone because texting is so much easier.

I can already feel the need for nearly constant digital contact with people kind of sliding away, which is the goal of this whole thing anyway, but I didn’t figure it would happen so quickly. Before when I have quit social media, I got sucked back in pretty quickly, but social media is more labor intensive on a computer than a smart device, so I may have saved myself that temptation this round.

At any rate, I am looking forward to spending my time reading, running, writing, and even watching TV or movies, instead of scrolling. I am really focusing on just doing one thing at a time and giving that one thing my undivided attention. Right now, I am writing. The TV is off, the phone is in my pocket, and I am focused.

I guess my big goal with this is to get back to where I was ten years ago where I can focus, I can remember, and I can relish the time I spend with others. I don’t like my presence with others being split between the screen and the person, and I, personally, haven’t been able to curb that need for digital connectedness without this drastic measure.

Tuesday, January 1 is the real start date, but by then I’ll be  five days off of social media and three days on the flippy, so I’ll have a good head start.

I’m ready.

I’m nervously excited.

*

This morning as I was reading the News App on my iPhone, before I activated the new phone, I ran across a pretty sweet little journal called Trail and Kale, and apparently they started in 2012 when the founders began trail running as a way to stay fit.

I love their site’s format and the way it’s so easy to navigate. The things you’d most like to read have their own categories, then there is an everything category. For example, when you click on “Interviews,” you can see “Elite Runners” or “All Interviews.”

Of course, nothing a magazine, website, or other forum can do to make things easier to find, helps when I am looking for content that I clearly found in another place. Just before I started writing this, I was thinking about an article about Darbykai (or DK) Standrick in Canadian Trail Running, and I could have sworn it was in Trail and Kale, so I spent half an hour looking for it there.

But, it wasn’t in Trail and Kale, so here I am now, explaining that silliness to you instead of making my point, which is that most elite athletes now have a social media presence. In fact, that’s how I know about most of the amazing trail runners I know about, but Standrick has no social media presence, which is what interested me about her.

Standrick is out there doing her own thing, and kicking ass at it, and not sounding her own horn. Her running philosophy seems to be a good one as well: “Run when you want. Run when you don’t want with the option of going home. Try and go fast sometimes and try not to sweat other times.” I think I may try to implement that approach; run when I want, run when I don’t, lay low, and figure out who I am again. And again. And again.

If there’s a theme to my life, it is figuring out who I am over and over again. Here’s to every day being the best day.

Flip Phone: Kicking My Social Media Addiction

I just ordered my new Kyocera Cadence LTE.

I ordered a flip phone.

To replace my iPhone. 

I am not yet quite sure how I feel about it. I have turned off my iPad and my Apple Watch, and I will turn off my iPhone, once my new phone arrives in the mail. I have this weird, deep, nervous pit in my stomach, which sounds really stupid when I write it down, but it’s true. Moving from working at Apple for three years, where I had to know the newest of the newest technology to make my living, to turning off all of my Apple devices except my computer, which I need for work (I just can’t bring myself to use a Chromebook), seems like a giant leap, but I am looking forward to reclaiming my life from the depths of social media and screen addiction. 

I’ve read a couple of articles which indicate that screen addiction, particularly social media addiction, stimulates and grows similar neural pathways as opioid addiction. I believe that assessment to be true. I’ve watched people in my life struggle with other addictions, and the hold that social media and my smart devices have on me resembles the hold of various substances in their lives. I don’t say this to minimize their struggle, but simply to highlight my own struggle with the screen. 

Over the past four for five years, I have tried countless ways to kick my screen habit: setting a goal of a month without social media, just using one social medium, only checking in the morning or night, cutting usage to an hour, or even only using my computer for it. I have had zero success in beating this addiction. 

If I am honest, in the past couple of years, I’ve become even more addicted, spending sometimes three or four hours a day on my phone when I should be doing just about anything else. “I should go for a run,” or I could just edit a few more pictures. “I should sketch something,” or I could just post a couple more things here on Twitter. “I should go cook some awesome food to give to the neighbors,” or I could share a couple more articles here on Facebook. Writing? Church? Exercise? Reading? Art? Preparation for class? Spending time with friends and family? Cooking? In my mind, of late, have any of these things been as important as posting just this one more thing on social media?

After an immense amount of soul-searching and asking what would have to change for me to be content with the direction my life is taking, I recognized that I needed to kick my addiction to social media, specifically Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I needed to stop measuring my life in likes, comments, and shares. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and I am tired of not being joyful, because I am continually comparing myself to others, some of whom I have never met. I have the perfect opportunity to reset my technological world this semester by buying a flip phone and leaving all of my other devices in Minnesota when I leave for Indiana here in a couple of weeks. 

What in my life will have to change as a part of this experiment?

First, I recognized pretty quickly that I will have to start paying attention to where I am going. I will not have immediate access to GPS. I will be forced to regrow the maps that used to be in my head, and to grow new ones for the new places I will go. I’ll be forced to pay attention when I go somewhere, so I can get there again. I will also need to purchase some paper maps for cities where I visit frequently, like Indianapolis. And I will need to print directions to get some places. This is a bit scary for some reason, though it never scared me when I drove to Mexico in my early twenties with no GPS and no Apple Maps. 

Second, there are many places I go every day that have mobile apps, instead of cards. I’m thinking about my daily coffee stop, where I usually show my phone instead of using cash or a card, or when I check into LA Fitness with my phone instead of the card they gave me when I first registered with them. I suppose I’ll have to figure out where to get new cards and start using more cash payments. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even save some money in this whole thing. 

Third, I rely on being able to look up everything on Google. Who is that actor? What else was she in? What is this song? What was that one painting called? Where is that building located? Who made that sculpture? What is the name of that one state park? What time does that store open? Should I go to that restaurant? What time is that movie showing? What disease do I have if I have these symptoms? How old is Ruth Bader Ginsburg? What about Betty White? I mean, I Google pretty much everything these days. You probably do too. The sad part is that I used to actually retain information, but now I just Google it. 

Fourth, and probably most important for me, I take MANY photos, and I mean many. I probably take 10-20 photos every day, but the phone I purchased has a really bad camera. And I did that on purpose. For one year, I want to be real and present in everything I do. I just want to live and experience things, and I don’t want to be the person with camera. Don’t get me wrong, taking photos brings me a great amount of joy, but when I am out with my friends and they ask me to take pictures, sometimes it’s a lot of pressure to get the right shot, to make it look good, to edit it well, to make sure everyone has the right look on their face (let’s be honest, that’s a real challenge when some of you all are involved!), to make sure you didn’t get some random person in the background, to make sure you got all of the background, to ensure the composition is pleasing to the eye, and to be the person people rely on to capture the group memories. For a year, I just want to see what I see with my eyes and keep the memories in my head. 

Lastly, group messages and T9 texting. I don’t really think I need to say anything else about this one. 

I am excited about the prospect of breaking this addiction, and I am finally in the right headspace to leave some things behind, because they aren’t serving their intended purpose in my life. As they say, I’ve hit rock bottom a few times with my mental health in regards to comparing myself with others, so I’m ready to move on.

Here’s to a beautiful 2019.

A New Day is Dawning

I am a person of many addictions. When I was a child, I was addicted to books. When I was in middle school, I was addicted to Jesus. When I was in high school, I was addicted to my boyfriend. When I was in college, I was addicted alcohol, drugs, sex, and food.  Some of these things seem rather innocuous to be addicted to, but even too much of a good thing can be bad.

As an adult, I became addicted to all of these at one time or another, plus social media and all the internet has to offer. I have become a hostage to these things, and I want my life back.

In the past year, I have spent anywhere from an hour to all day on the Internet, reading, posting, commenting on countless posts, watching videos, sharing articles, getting angry, jealous, excited, let down, intrigued, disgusted, turned on, fired up, or some other erratic emotion. Always a very high or very low emotion. Always these emotion affect my relationships with real people.

Some days last school year, I had my students work independently in order to participate in social media. Then, as soon as I walked in the door of my home, I would log on again, and not log out until bed time. I feel like I’ve lost an entire year of my life to the Internet and its wiles.

For me, social media is a drug. The things that can be found on the Internet are drugs. They intoxicate me. These are the reasons I needed to quit Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I didn’t quit because I don’t love my friends. I quit because I do love you.

I need some moderation in my life, and right now the only way I can see to get that moderation is through abstinence.

Also, I promise my next post will be more happy-go-lucky.

A Whole New Chapter

On June 2, I plan to start a whole new chapter of my life, a technology-free chapter. I have been spending far too many hours with my face smashed into the computer screen, most of which has been spent on Facebook, Twitter, and email. My addiction has gotten to the point where I spend more time clicking back and forth between social networks and email, compulsively and to no good end. When I open my computer, I automatically open several tabs that I check obsessively until I log off the computer. I have found myself mindlessly clicking back and forth from tab to tab for hours. Sometimes a whole day will be taken up with the mindless shuffling between sites. There is no good reason for my compulsion, so I need to stop. I am giving myself an intervention.

On June 2 (and until August 14), I am not going to use the computer at all. Well, correctly stated, I will not use the Internet at all, but I have to use Word to type my dissertation. I plan to only use my cell phone with no texting for the duration of the summer. Why? Two reasons first come to mind: (1) I have become detached from people who are around me, being absorbed into my computer, even when there are people I care about in the room with me, and (2) I have to get a couple of chapters of my dissertation drafted.

I think this will help me to wean myself away from the social sites. Also, I hope to find myself getting much more done, including painting the house, refinishing the floors, drafting two chapters, writing some creative nonfiction, and running and swimming every day, except Saturdays when I will go for bike rides with Bec. I set goals. I don’t always keep them, but I never lose hope that I might, one day, make my goals.