Posts tagged ‘facebook’

August 11, 2009

Wrestling with intents – Why you want to check your email right now

I was tying my shoelaces, getting ready to go out and buy some food, when I realized I haven’t charged my mp3 player in a while. I looked up, and on the table was my laptop and, sticking out at places beneath the papers, my headphones’ cable, to which my player is attached.

“I’ll plug it in when I get back”, I first thought.

“But wait, why don’t I plug it in now?”

“Nah, I’ll do it later. Besides, I need to find the cable for charging it.”

“Wait, it’s in the bag behind me. If I could just turn around…”

“No, no, don’t turn around. Look, you said you were going shopping right now, so why don’t you just charge it when you get back?”

And that’s when it hit me. There really was no reason not to plug in my mp3 player right now – in fact, plugging it in right now would mean it would charge faster. But the strength of the simple intent of “you said you were going shopping right now” was strong enough to demand that I leave right now.

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November 10, 2008

isolation experiment – the aftermath

So it’s been a few weeks since my isolation experiment, and I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the experiment, to observe myself after it etc.

When I came back to Belgrade, I quickly slipped into my usual routine of time-wasting in front of the screen. It’s amazing, sitting there, looking at the screen, telling yourself “Look, you’re clearly not doing anything productive right now.” and then simply clicking on the next link. And the next one. And the next one.

Fortunately, this only lasted for a week or so, as this time, I was armed with the experience from Split. Remembering that I read a book every day even though my concentration was bad (because of the flu), the strong motivation and the good feeling that came from such clearly defined goals and a lack of distractions… all of those things motivated me to set some clear goals which I really want to accomplish, and I know that in pursuing and reaching them the idling in front of the screen will simply cease to feel necessary, or even good.

I’ve also become even more antagonistic towards Facebook, MSN and internet in general. I fully agree that they are incredibly useful when used properly. However, they have a way of becoming a part of the daily routine which then influences people’s behavior negatively: spending an hour or so every day on Facebook,  chatting and doing quizzes, may seem like nothing much, simply because the negative effects are not that apparent. However, there are negative effects.

People in general have a problem with sticking to moderation in their behavior (“Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation” St. Augustine), and with the internet it’s easier than ever to go down the “just one more” path, whether it’s a link, a Facebook quiz or whatever. But I think that this sort of behavior is more easily remedied by doing something productive, instead of constantly forcing yourself not to do it – the reason you’re waisting time in front of the screen is because you are, say, bored and you have a need; a need which is currently fulfiled by Facebook. Do something more productive, fulfilling etc. and that need will be satisfied, and you simply won’t feel like spending so much time online. Also, the benefits from whatever you’re doing are way better than that hour in front of the screen.

that’s it for the isolation experiment. Of course, if you have any questions concerning any aspect of the experiment, or my thoughts on Facebook, internet etc. feel free to ask.

November 2, 2008

isolation experiment pt. 1

I’ve successfully completed my isolation experiment. It lasted 9 days, from Sunday to Monday. It had many positive effects on me, but first the preliminary details:

The isolation consisted of:

– no contact of any kind with almost anyone from my life in Serbia (no cell-phone, email, Facebook, MSN).

There were two planned exceptions: my family (you sort of have to tell them you’re alive every now and then) and a colleague with whom I’m doing a very important project which couldn’t bear the isolation (I opened a new email account just for this correspondence with him).
An unexpected exception was Sunday 19th, because I realized that Google’s big idea project http://www.project10tothe100.com/index.html had a deadline for Monday, so I had to urgently contact my friend from Serbia with whom I completed the application.

– no unnecessary websurfing, watching TV etc.

This rule came about spontaneously during my isolation. Basically, no youtube, webcomics (which I read a lot) or anything fun and interesting on the web, TV etc. internet was used only for getting information I needed for my work. I made a few small exceptions, but in general I stuck to it throughout the isolation.

As fir the reasons why I decided to isolate myself: I had a LOT of work to get done, while on a visit to my family for some personal matters which required my attention, so the isolation was as much an experiment as it was a necessity to get things done.

So, the impressions:

Since I spend at the very least an hour a day online not doing anything useful, sitting in front of the computer and just working was in the beginning a strange sensation. There’s like this itch in your head telling you to open 7 more windows, check your email, visit Facebook… several times I would open a new window and start typing in an address and I would become aware of it only a moment before hitting enter (my friend calls this the “ctrl-t ctrl-t ctrl-t” syndrome, ctrl-t being the Firefox shortcut for opening a new tab).

However, apart from these moments in front of the screen, the rest of the day I was much more productive. Knowing that I simply have no method of wasting time, my motivation for getting things done was a lot higher. I read several books, wrote the first half of a compilation of tips for youth activism, made a strategic plan for one big project, sent the application for the google idea thing… and even the stupid flu didn’t stop me from working.

This isolation also gave me the time to reflect on some personal issues in my life and, in a way, regroup for the coming semester. I have a lot of work ahead of me and I needed something like this to plan out at least a rough outline of what I should do.
In the second part I’ll write more about the thoughts and feelings that came out after this experiment, concerning isolation, motivation, Facebook, internet in general, how they influence us  etc.