Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Social Media Isn't Your Life

Social media apps on a smartphone

It’s easy to get caught up in social media. There’s a certain enchantment to posting to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, or checking out what others are doing there.

It’s easy to succumb to the urge to continuously log your life. To post tweets and photos and updates of where you are, of what you’re doing, of who you’re with, of what you’re eating.

It’s equally addictive to immerse yourself in the social media postings of others. It’s fun to imagine being there with those posters, doing what they’re doing.

None of that is your life. Life isn’t about tweeting or snapping or posting the minutiae of your existence or travels.

Life isn’t living vicariously through the lives of others. Let’s face it: you aren’t getting same experiences as they are. Not even close. Being there, doing things is very different from looking at photos or videos or tweets. The latter isn’t even the next best thing.

Life is about your own experiences. It’s about filtering the world through your eyes, your brain. It’s about enjoying the moment and experiencing not just what that moment has to offer but also who you’re with during that moment.

Stopping to post or tweet or check in disrupts the flow of that moment, like a portion of a film skipping on a projector.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a photo or making a note for future reference. But you shouldn’t let that become the main thing you do. You shouldn’t worry about the memories. Focus on the now. Focus on where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing, what you’re feeling.

And remember that your experiences won’t be heightened or made richer by the number of shares or likes or hearts you get online.

Next time you’re doing something and feel the urge to whip out your phone to record that moment, pause and ask yourself Do I really need to? Chances are you don’t.

How to Create an Internet Schedule

A calendar

The internet is a wonderful thing. At least, it can be. It makes doing research, communicating, working, and even just shopping easier.

On the other hand, the internet can be a huge pit of distraction. It’s tempting to watch that video on YouTube, check social media or email, or get sucked into the Wikipedia spiral than actually do some work. Plus, you get a nice hit of dopamine when you do.

If your worried about the internet being or becoming a distraction and a time sink, you have options to prevent that from happening. I’ve found that one of the most effective ways to stop the internet from putting a dent in your productivity is to create an internet schedule.

Here are some suggestions that can help you create a schedule.

Links Roundup - September 12, 2016

Is An Ordinary Life Meaningless?

Plain, white milk splashing

If you believe everything you read on the web, we live in a world of hyperachievers. Of people doing extraordinary things. People travelling the world with nothing but a backpack and a laptop, people founding companies, people pushing themselves beyond their supposed limits, people having adventures and telling the world about them.

In some circles, those kinds of folks are held up as a modern ideal. And unless, like them, you’ve lived in a dozen countries or mastered half a dozen languages or founded three startups before you’re 30 you haven’t lived up to your potential.

Their extraordinary lives make your ordinary life seem boring. They make it seem meaningless. Scholar and author Dr. Brene Brown said:

I see the cultural messaging everywhere that an ordinary life is a meaningless life

It may seem that way. We’re not doing what that small minority is. We’re not trumpeting our triumphs or exploits online. Because of that, some of us may succumb to what Dr. Brown referred to as The shame-faced fear of being ordinary. But an ordinary life is definitely not meaningless.

Most of our lives are decidedly ordinary, whether we intended them to be or not. Not all of us are wired to undertake months- or years-long adventures. Even if we are, family and financial constraints prevent that.

There’s more to life than all of that. Think about who you touch, who you influence. Think about who you help, in any way. Everything you do might be a series of small gestures, but those small gestures can add up. They can set a child on the right path in life. They can help a friend through a bad or dark time. They can guide or influence a stranger. They can show family and friends that you love them, that you appreciate their presence in your life.

Meaning in life doesn’t come from hearts or likes online. It doesn’t come from huge numbers of followers. It doesn’t necessarily come from grand adventures or missions.

Meaning in life comes from the quality of the honest and real interactions in your life. It comes from those closest to you, from true friendships. It’s not a matter of doing more than the next person. It’s a matter of embracing what and who you have in your life.

And not matter how ordinary a life you think you have, that life probably contains a lot of what’s truly important, whether you see or believe it or not.

Saying 'I Need To ...' Isn't Enough

An older man looking frustrated

Some time ago, I worked at a small software company as a technical writer. Just about every morning, I’d run into one of my co-workers in the kitchen at the office while I was refilling my water bottle or making a cup of tea.

And just about every morning he’d repeat the same mantra: I need to start exercising. This went on for week after week, month after month. Despite his best intentions, that co-worker never started exercising.

It reached a point where I got tired of hearing him say that every single day. So, my inner coach (OK, more like the drill sergeant) stepped in and gave my co-worker some advice.