0325 – sick + facebook again

It’s the 12th of May, 2015. It’s 2:48am. I’m recovering from a pretty nasty cold or flu, and I find myself rather embarrassed and ashamed that I’m almost 25 years old and I still haven’t learnt internalized the simple fundamentals of good health– to sleep well, eat well, exercise, work hard, play hard, socialize, read, write, rest.

For the past 4 days, my mind has been incapacitated. I’ve been tired and sleep deprived and I haven’t been very productive by any measure. Except maybe for the fact that I’ve been reading more than usual.

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I don’t want to say depressed, I don’t think it’s that bad a funk, and I do think I have a lot of things to be grateful for. I’m aware of the things I need to do to deal with my circumstances. It’s quite funny and frustrating at the same time how all the solutions are fundamentally, conceptually simple– just so hard to execute on.

In November 2014 I unfollowed and unfriended everyone on Facebook to see what it would be like. I did the same on Twitter and Instagram and such. And I’ve written a few vomits about what it was like at the time– a sort of deafening silence. And there were both pros and cons to that, I think. The biggest pro was that I learned that I didn’t need to respond to every single thing, that I didn’t need to worry so much about the approval of others, that not every single little issue was worth examining in great detail. I mean– TECHNICALLY yes, but there’s opportunity cost. And being away from Facebook helped me contextualize that.

The biggest con I guess was a lack of social interaction. I haven’t really interacted much with anybody other than my wife and my colleagues over the past year. I’ve become a bit of a recluse. I told my boss– I don’t really know what I care about anymore. Yeah, I still like writing, but to what end? What am I supposed to be writing about? I’m guessing the answer is just barely out of sight for me right now, which can be a bit painful, but I do have faith that I’ll get a better sense of it as I go. Maybe even these vomits are sort of draining because they’re not directed at anybody in particular, they don’t address anybody in particular, and maybe I do need some of that. That sense of significance, that social validation. I’ve had very little of it since I detached completely from everything. And while I WAS kinda overstimulated for the years preceding The Great Unfriending, I think I’ve been a little understimulated since. Books do seem to alleviate that a little bit, but clearly my situation is suboptimal.

I feel like if there’s a big lesson here somewhere, it actually has to do with the passage of time, and how bad I am at making sense of it, and what it would be like. Somebody gave a TED talk about this– was it Barry Schwartz? – about how people systematically underestimate how much their lives will change over any given time period. We assume things will stay about the same, but really, things change more than we are able to imagine. [1]

The biggest real loss I’ve had from unfriending everybody isn’t actually the validation of Likes and such– that I think I’ve learned to live without. I think the biggest loss is the lack of access to immediate information. I used to be able to ask for recommendations and suggestions and get them immediately, and I loved that. I’d like to be able to do that again.

As I went through my old statuses and updates, I found it interesting to see familiar names and faces and realize that I had had thoughts and opinions about many of these people that I no longer hold because they’re no longer relevant or valid. It makes me realize that I was operating in such narrow conditions– I might like or dislike a person more or less because of a specific argument that we might’ve had had on the Internet about something that’s almost definitely not relevant anymore.

That’s another thing to think about– if everything that I used to talk about when I was on Facebook all the time… turned out to be inconsequential, then what IS consequential? What SHOULD I be talking about? Where SHOULD I be devoting my time and energy to?

Service, I guess. Helping people who need help. Looking back there were a few things that I did right. I suppose it still makes sense to go back and revise what I did, to see what worked and what didn’t. I was looking through some argument and smiling and shaking my head at how inconsequential it was, and yet there were also times where I had written and created things of genuine value. I guess learning to see the distinction between the two would have meant that my time wasn’t entirely spent in vain.

As time goes by, I learn that I’m more fragile than I thought. I’m more vulnerable than I thought. I’m less discerning than I thought. I don’t actually know what works. I don’t actually know what the world needs, except maybe real honesty, sincerity… we’ll see.

Another thing I guess is realizing that I shouldn’t try too hard to do justice to everything all the time. I shouldn’t try to hold on to many different things and hope to do justice to them later. If something is going to come through, it’s going to come through. If something that happened earlier is going to resonate, then it is.


[1] I’m probably underestimating how much things like Bitcoin are going to affect my career in the future. I do think I’ll end up writing for a living somehow, so it makes sense to double down on this and just do more of it. Maybe I need to be writing outside of my 1000 vomits too, just to keep that public-facing writing edge sharp. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

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