Update: 30 Day Challenge – No Facebook

So, it’s been exactly 30 days since I last visited Facebook (on purpose at least — I did get tricked by a few URLs posted to Twitter!)

Overall, I was surprised how little I thought about it. At first, during moments of boredom, I thought about checking Facebook to pass some time. That lasted around two weeks in total. The last half of the 30 days went much smoother and I barely thought of the site. The “freedom” from the thoughts (once they basically stopped occurring), was refreshing.

It’s amazing how much the digital world impacts you, even subconsciously. There are a ton of studies and articles on the fear of missing out, how Facebook makes you feel sad/depressed/miserable, and so on. Anecdotally, I agree. I didn’t use a log or track happiness or anything, but in general I think having one less thing to worry/think about in your life is never a bad thing — especially when it’s something like a web site.

One challenge (and something Facebook is pretty good at) was the email notifications. I turned off all notification emails from Facebook a long time ago, but apparently pending notification emails aren’t one you can turn off. I received a ton of them. The email I received last night said I have 95 pending notifications, along with a sampling off all the things I missed since I last logged in to the site. Facebook does have to improve at the selection of events it includes — most were not specific enough to entice you by any means. (“So-and-so commented on so-and-so’s status”? OMG, yes I need to find out what was said!)

I did have a few experiences of “did you see that on Facebook?”, but overall that slowed to a trickle over time as well. My wife did pass me her phone a few times to show me a few funny/cute things I didn’t see, although none were in the “OMG, I need Facebook” category. One thing I didn’t see, and regret, was missing the opening of my friends art show at WNYBAC. A lot of people rely on the Facebook events feature now, so that is one weakness of not checking into Facebook occasionally.

So, what did I do in place of Facebook (and even other social networking) time?

  • Moved forward with starting my own business with two current co-workers and friends (more coming on that soon!)
  • Finished reading The $100 Startup (highly recommended)
  • Read a ton of comic books
  • Continued plugging away at Carte Blanche (newest James Bond book), which I continually forget that I am reading
  • Started two more books: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and the Zen of Listening
  • talked with family on phone and in person more

Most of these aren’t life changing, but all were things I wanted to do and either put off before or made very slow progress. That was a pleasant outcome of this experiment, as well.

And then the big question I’ve been asked: what are you going to do now?

Honestly I don’t know. Things I do want to figure out first:

  • A strategy for who I stay connected with on Facebook (Thinking friends and close friends only at this point.)
  • Which email notification would be most useful to turn on.
  • How I can take advantage of the events calendar, without being actively engaged in the site.
  • How I access the site. (I’m thinking Flipboard only at this point.)
  • Active browsing and usage vs. just sharing to the site (I know some people rely on Facebook for all friends/family news, so this would accommodate them without me having to use the site.)

So, just a few things to figure out and at this point I’m not feeling much pressure to make decisions on any of these items, given the results of this experiment.

Anyway, give it a try. Living without Facebook is totally fine. You may actually like it!

Slow Company

Fast Company recently interviewed Jason Fried, who is the CEO of 37signals. There are so many great quotes that continue to prove to me why this company is so great and the model for the kind of business I want to work for and build.
On four-day work weeks in the summer:

People were like, “I have stuff to get done, it’s Thursday, so I’m gonna work Friday and just get it done. But we actually preferred that they didn’t. There are very few things that can’t wait till Monday.

and:

We don’t track things in that way. I don’t look at that. I don’t want to encourage that kind of work. I want to encourage quality work.

and

We’re about being in business for the long haul and keeping the team together over the long haul. I would never trade a short-term burst for a long-term decline in morale.

On tech companies and the lottery mentality:

But I think all you have to do is read TechCrunch. Look at what the top stories are, and they’re all about raising money, how many employees they have, and these are metrics that don’t matter. What matters is: Are you profitable? Are you building something great? Are you taking care of your people? Are you treating your customers well?

On slow growth and long term thinking:

We’re about being in business for the long haul and keeping the team together over the long haul. I would never trade a short-term burst for a long-term decline in morale.

and:

I’m a fan of growing slowly, carefully, methodically, of not getting big just for the sake of getting big. I think that rapid growth is typically of symptom of… there’s a sickness there.

So good.

We are all guilty

I’ve been sort of following these rape news stories, because I have three little girls and it scares the shit out of me. Not just rape, but the humiliation & degradation, the objectification, the lack of respect for the victim, the expectations and imagery we bombard young girls (and boys) with, and the sexist and misogynistic culture our media and society creates, in general. It sickens me.

I know I can only work hard to raise three strong women and hope that someday they won’t have to deal with this mess. My wife is certainly an excellent role model for them, and I try to show them, by example, what a thoughtful, respectful man is and can be in our society. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is enough.

Today on Twitter I saw a post by “Laugh, Mom” entitled, I am so fucking sick of teaching our daughters not to get raped. She starts out by hitting on all the things we tell our girls and women:

Never take a drink from anyone or let your drink out of your sight. Don’t show too much cleavage. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Never go to a boy’s room alone. If it comes to it, go for the eyes, the nose, the balls. Always stay with a group of girls…safety in numbers. You can’t trust him, even if he seems nice.

These are all the rules I was taught growing up. Parents, teachers, media, all told me I had to be careful not to get raped. Because I was a girl. And the responsibility was on me.

The fact that so much of preventing objectification, rape, abuse, and violence is on the potential female victim is such bullshit.

“Laugh, Mom” , who has three sons, pleads with other parents of boys:

We need to stop letting it be our sons.

We need to teach our sons that no means no. And that silence means no. And that drunkenness means no. And that being passed out means no. And that “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” or “maybe we shouldn’t do this” means no.

We need to teach our sons that women and girls are actual people. They’re not just bodies. They’re not just holes. They’re not inanimate objects to be used at will.

We need to teach our sons that degrading women isn’t funny in any context.

We need to teach our sons that watching something happen and not intervening is every bit as bad as participating.

We need to teach our sons what it means to be men.

I don’t have any daughters. I am not tasked with teaching them how to try not to get raped. But this isn’t a problem with our daughters. We shouldn’t have to teach them how to stop rape.

We need to teach our sons.

So much of this, it hurts. In fact, we all need to take more responsibility for this shit: parents, schools, media, and especially men/boys. And like I said above, it not just about rape – it’s much bigger.

Please do your part.

Soundtrack for this post: Suggestion by Fugazi

Abundance is a curse

I really like this:

You are responsible for what you consume.

If I told you that you could watch just one movie this month, you might spend more time considering your choice. You’d pick carefully. If you were limited to just one hour of television a day you’d say no to most programs. If you lived on bread and milk and had just one meal a week of your choice you be careful not to waste the opportunity.

Your options are virtually unlimited. And you, you alone are responsible for limiting your options. You are.

Pick one.

Pick One — First Today, Then Tomorrow by Randy Murrary.

Art of Vulnerability

Yesterday morning I watched a TED talk by musician Amanda Palmer, who is famous for her work with the Dresden Dolls and raising $1.2 million on Kickstarter to fund a solo album. Her story is amazing and definitely worth the 15 minutes it takes to watch the video.
What struck me is she hit on a subject I’ve spent the last few posts working through: online sharing and connections.

Amanda uses the internet (she sees “random closeness and connections”) to connect with and build an invested following of fans. To build those connections she uses her blog, Twitter, and YouTube to share intimate moments, failure, and her fears — in addition to all the normal stuff you’d expect from a musician. She’s completely vulnerable and open.

She’s found that these connections lead to amazing acts of generosity and real life connections, which have allowed her to travel the world through couch surfing, fund her Kickstarter, and much more. The vulnerability generates trust and generosity to/from/between Amanda and her fans.

Her secret to making her art and life work: ask. She builds off this exchange of vulnerability and trust to overcome the shame of asking for help. “When we really see each other, we want to help.”

The act of asking is another type of connection. Asking is vulnerable. In fact, giving is vulnerable too. Both are forms of trust. In general, our society puts a negative connotation on asking for help, taking donations, and receiving assistance. It’s usually looked down upon in all but the most dire of circumstances.

Even in business we put less value on our work because we don’t feel worthy or that our work isn’t good enough — whether it’s freelancing for less than market value, giving away an iPhone app, starting a business based on our talents and interests (“I couldn’t possibly make any money doing what I love”), or any other number of things. By putting our work out there we become vulnerable to criticism and people saying ‘no’, so we lessen the value of the work in response, as a protective measure.

In cases like Amanda it’s easy to criticize the asking, but we (meaning the rest of us not involved in these transactions) don’t see the complete exchange that is happening between the ‘asker’ and ‘giver’. The connection the fan makes to her as a person, her music, or the inspiration. In the end, we all spend one (or more) of our currencies in any transaction/interaction/connection: time, attention, money, belongings, food, whatever we have… they all have value. So how can we judge one form of currency over the other?

To sum up a great quote from the video: ‘The internet and sharing is about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough.’ That’s a pretty stark contrast from what is typically considered success in our society — and even celebrity — where large groups of people ‘love’ you from a distance. There’s no connection, no real trust in celebrity.

For Amanda and her music/art, that “enough” is around the 25,000 loyal fans who funded her million dollar Kickstarter. Ironically, that’s the same number of albums her major label sold before deeming her a failure.

It’s inspiring to see someone connect and build a small tribe, facilitate sharing/vulnerability/openness, and harness that into a career — to live her life on her own terms.

Hat tip: Patrick Rhone