With 2020 charging toward us like a bull wearing bunny slippers, now seems like a good time to officially record my personal New Year's Resolutions for 2020.
I've got two of 'em. Just two. But they feel like doozies.
In truth, I've been thinking about these changes for many months (in some ways, years). Two changes, both related to the way I utilize computers, specifically focused on improving my quality of life and happiness level.
Computers should make our lives better. Happier. If an aspect of computing (hardware, software, services, features, etc.) causes us to be less happy... maybe we should consider getting rid of it. Crazy notion, right?
My first 2020 Resolution is a simple thing -- one that might be obvious to anyone following my work over the last year or two. Something I have advocated for at great length...
No More Social Media.
Yep. Cutting Social Media out of my life.
I'm talking about things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the Fediverse (Mastodon, LibremOne, etc.). No more posting, reading, liking, commenting on, or re-sharing posts on any of those services (or any services like them). I'll keep the accounts so that nobody else can claim them and pretend to be me... but otherwise, they'll be shuttered.
I believe Social Media is an inherently flawed concept. I've thought this for quite some time. But, well, I became a wee bit addicted to these dastardly services -- and they simply don't have a net positive impact on my life (personal or public).
Tried to quit social media in 2018. I failed.
In 2020, I'm giving it another go. Social Media be gone.
But, just because I'm ceasing Social Media activity, that doesn't mean I won't ever be "On-Line" (yeah, I still hyphenate that word). I'll remain reachable via E-Mail (oh, I should hyphenate that word too! Like the good old days!) -- both the regular Internet kind and BBS email. And I'll continue to occasionally read the forum on the House of Lunduke telnet BBS, and continue to use E-Mail mailing lists when those make sense.
Likewise, I may decide to continue using the comment section of my Patreon. It's a smaller community (as opposed to the likes of Twitter) and that helps a great deal -- I can treat it like more of a small, closed community forum. On the other hand, it is still a bit "Social Media-y". Haven't decided on that just yet. What I have decided on is that I definitely won't be reading YouTube or Reddit comments (and things of that ilk).
Many of you will say "Impossible!". Others, "So easy! I already do that!" And a few folk, in some dark corners of the globe, will find something randomly mean or snarky to say on Twitter. But I won't see any of it. So... it's all good. Snark away.
Honestly, I'm guessing that I won't be the only one with such a resolution for 2020... here's hoping we all succeed.
No More Cellular Data Service.
For my second New Year's Resolution, I'm ceasing any usage of cellular data -- no more smartphone with an always on Internet connection.
No iPhone with 4G connection. No Android phone with 5G connection. No Linux-y phone with 17G connection (or whatever G number they decide to use by the end of 2020).
I find the "always connected" nature of modern smartphones to be stress-inducing and an overall negative impact on my quality of life. While there are certainly some benefits... the negative aspects of being always connected are simply too strong.
I'll still let myself have a phone. But my phone... will just be a phone.
When I'm walking around town, no Internet connection. If I'm not sitting at my computer, I'll be Off-Line (aka "In the real world").
Maybe I'll have two different devices -- one PDA (yeah, I'm bringing that acronym back), one phone. Maybe I'll settle on a single PDA-Phone (just without any 2G/3G/4G/5G/WhateverG connection). Haven't decided on that part yet.
Currently I'm doing a trial run of using a PalmOS powered Treo 650 on Sprint as my phone. The aging data service is no longer supported by any carrier and the device has no WiFi. So no wireless data of any kind. But it makes phone calls and sends texts like a champ.
Though I would like my PDA type device to be completely separate from my Phone. That just feels... right. Two small devices with two very different purposes. When I was a younger man, I used to dream of a converged device -- one ultimate gadget that I could carry in my pocket (Phone, PDA, MP3 player, etc.). Now that I've seen the negative impact that has, I'm inclined to think that was simply not such a great idea.
During my "last few days before the new year starts" trial run, I've been keeping my smartphone near me, but not in constant use. Trying to keep it off increasing amounts each day. Ease myself into it. Trying to find any of the kinks in my plan before the new year hits.
Thus far, things have gone fairly smoothly. Over the coming days I'll be keeping my smartphone turned off completely and see if any problems crop up. I'm sure there will be some inconveniences -- we've all gotten so used to smartphones with always on data connections -- but am anticipating, based on how it has gone so far, an overall positive experience leading up to January 1st.
Does anyone expect to be on their deathbeds and have their final thought be, "Darn, wish I would have liked a few more things on Twitter?" Or, "I wish I would have spent more time surfing the web on my cell phone while at dinner with my family?"
Will these changes have a positive impact on my life and my overall happiness (which is already pretty great but, hey, why not shoot for even better)?
Will any inconveniences crop up that are insurmountable?
Will I experience gains (or losses) in productivity?
We'll find out.
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