I've been seriously considering abandoning all of my social media accounts. The consensus from articles and podcasts tends to say that social media is bad for you, that it makes you unhappy and fills your life with anxiety. I really shouldn't be attached to them, so why keep them?
Then again, what do I do with them? I barely interact with people on them at all. On Twitter, plenty of days go by without a "like" or a "follow;" on Facebook, I refuse to post on my wall unless it's distinctly valuable to my Facebook community, meaning that I haven't posted for months; on Tumblr, I don't interact with anybody at all. The most interaction I have with anybody is on Instagram, but even that is pretty minimal. And the others are all tertiary.
So why keep them? Why maintain all these sites when I'm barely social on them? I haven't posted any new music for a few years, so why maintain those sites? And the other, the ones I've joined if only to monopolize my jeffnords URLs, do they really mean anything to me?
There are a couple practical reasons to keep them: for one, each of the sites function as a link repository. When I find something online I want to make reference to, I can post them with a comment and that helps me remember where they are. There's embedding: each of these sites let me embed things into this blog, for example; and then there's communication, since Messenger is one of the only ways I'm talking with my kids these days. So I can't really just throw them away.. or at least I can't get rid of Google and Facebook, since they're the sites that I use to sign in to numerous other sites.
So it's got me thinking: all these places say people should get off social media if they want to be happy, but I think the evidence is in that social media isn't the problem.
But there's the phone. I never wanted a cell phone. I remember when I let my partner talk me into getting one. I really didn't want it. I didn't want to be contactable all the time. I was happy with my landline. I also reluctantly signed up for Facebook. These were things that simply weren't natural to me.
But for the reasons I already mentioned, I can't quite get rid of them now. Even if I remove the apps from my phone, I can easily access each of those platforms through the phone's browser.
Could I scrap the smartphone? Probably not. A friend of mine tried to simplify his life and start using a simple non-smart mobile phone, but he found the quality so discouraging that he re-upgraded to a smartphone. I imagine I'd do the same thing if I tried.
And Pokemon GO is still a guilty pleasure. And might be ruining my thinking more than anything else.
I have a certain obsession with my relationship with smartphones. I love it but hate it; I avoid it but it fills up my time way too much.
We gave our eldest child a smartphone back in 2014 or so. They use it a lot. It's the main way that I'm able to communicate with my kids right now.
But I also feel like it's taken over their life. And this article points out the deeper problem... that I've let the smartphone do parenting for me. That's where my sense of guilt comes from.
I deleted most of my "Likes" from Facebook.. Much like I deleted all of my past history on Facebook a couple years ago, I've been trying to make the platform decidedly personal for me. I want to make it so it represents my identity as little as possible. I want to feel no loyalty to the platform.
So then I ran myself through the "Magic Sauce" from Cambridge University (not Cambridge Analytica):
Apparently I'm an extrovert now, and I'm 25.
Their Twitter assessment, however, is probably still pretty accurate:
(ACTUALLY POSTED MAY 28 2018... but since I didn't update it, I'll leave it here at its original timestamp for posterity.)
I started trying to write this post a few months ago, just to draw attention to this episode of Chase Jarvis' interview with Brene Brown (embedded below).
And I was thinking about what I may have wrought upon my children by introducing them to smartphones a few years ago, as embedded below.
But I look back at this draft and don't know what to say, since I started writing this so long ago and I don't want to re-listen to the episodes.
So I'll post them here and now and set this train of thought behind me for a bit.
At a staff meeting, administration admonished us to make our online presence less searchable. "Use a pseudonym," I paraphrase, "because we've heard some terrible stories about things people have done to teachers online. It might not even be you; it might be something somebody else tags you in."
For a moment, I considered it. I thought, Yeah, my online presence isn't meaningful enough to me for me to care about. I could pseudonym.
Then I realized just how beyond help I am for that.
I don't want to be anonymous. I have no interest in being anonymous online. I may not go as far as @elibosnick does in using my real name, but the vast majority of my online names are "jeffnords" or a variant of it. I have many reasons for this.
Facebook is still a special case. If there was any place to use a pseudonym, it would be for my personal Facebook profile. Although I've eased up on my personal Facebook ban and I've started paying a little more attention to the Facebook community, clicking "likes" and making comments here and there, I haven't done a purge for a while and I might, one of these nights, delete my recent activity on the site again. Facebook still straddles the public and private spheres in ways I'm not comfortable with. It still creates circles of "friends" that don't seem to mean much in real life. And it seems to be, by the nature of its interactions, cause the most trouble for people. So I'll continue to treat it with the utmost caution.
Perhaps, if and when I apply to work in administration myself, I'll reconsider. Perhaps some of my vulnerable rants and posts will seem childish and unprofessional. Then I might change my tack.
But for now, Jeffrey Nordstrom is my online identity and that's fine. I've traded away my privacy (see below) and I'm banking that it will work out for me in the long run.
YouTube: ephemeral ideas
Amazon | DailyMotion
DeviantArt | Duolingo | Flickr | FVRL | Kik
LinkedIn | MeetUp | MySpace
Playstation | Reddit | Snapchat
Spotify | The Internet Archive
Tinder | Vimeo | VK | WattPad