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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

10 Resolutions from Citizens for a Saner Internet—and Life

10 resolutions put forth by L.L. Barkat at Tweetspeak Poetry, as part of a movement called “Citizens for a Saner Internet—and Life.” Consider me one such citizen; want to join me?

1. Consider sharing three beautiful posts for every negative post we feel we must share.

2. Share angry posts only if they significantly contribute to an important conversation.

3. Understand anger as important, a red flag type emotion, that loses its strength if all we ever do is feel angry.

4. Write headlines that are intelligent, witty, or intriguing without exhausting our readers by frequently playing the “outrage card” to get click-throughs.

5. If we feel we want to listen to an angry Internet conversation for what it may be able to teach us about a subject, we resolve to do so silently for a “waiting period,” in a stance of learning rather than one of defense and counterattack.

6. We will not link to attack journalism from our websites, so as not to give more power to the writer or website of said journalism. Related, we will not link to or re-share iterative journalism, which is a sloppy form of journalism designed to deliver a “scoop” that may have no foundation yet in truth.

7. Consider ways to move beyond the “page view model” of Internet sustainability (which is one reason attack or sensationalist journalism is often pursued by individuals and websites, because it can result in high page views, which can translate into staying financially sustainable).

8. Get offline for periods of rest—optimally, one offline day a week and getting offline by a certain cutoff time in the evenings—and use this time to cultivate face-to-face relationships, read, exercise, or otherwise interact with the world around us.

9. If we are unsure about our own angry or sensationalistic post on a subject, we will first pass the post by trusted friends who come from different viewpoints, in a more private setting, before deciding whether to hit the publish button.

10. If we have been online for hours and are finally simply “surfing” because we feel lonely or unfocused, we will get offline and spend time with people face-to-face, read, exercise, play, or delve deeply into a new interest area—one that will seriously challenge us and open up new avenues for our learning and our lives.

Sometimes, anger isn’t as much the issue (for me) as feeling buffeted by the concerns, egos, and ambitions that can be baked into social media interaction—where our moods and attitudes can be influenced who’s following, liking, responding, or connecting … or by who’s getting recognition or not … or by who’s agreeing or participating or not. Getting stuck in that thought pattern is a sure sign you’ve lost focus and probably control over what you’re trying to accomplish.

Personally, I have a bigger problem dealing with email distractions than social media distractions, something I’m working on. The allure of the internet is often difficult to ignore, but at least I fight against it. That’s got to be worth something.

For more thoughtful reading on this topic:
Baratunde Thurston Left the Internet for 25 Days, and You Should, Too by Baratunde Thurston
I’m Still Here: Back Online After a Year Without the Internet by Paul Miller
Stop Talking. Start Doing by Jonathan Fields

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oh, The Terrors of January

You know what I hate about January? No, not the weather, which swings from rainy and cold to warm and balmy where I live. And no, it's not the start of a new semester when I have to go up against an array of new faces with weak grammar skills and cellphone obsessions (although their poor writing is painful to grade, the way their eyes get that dead look as their fingers stroke their phones is what I dread. It's as scary as the Zombies in Night of the Living Dead).
No, what I hate most about January is the snippets of Christmas songs that refuse to leave my brain. In fact, right  now the words, "the weather outside is frightful," has been on my internal repeat for, oh, maybe three weeks. This holiday classic is interspersed with snippets of "What Child is This," with hints of "O Come O Come Emmanuel," and my all time favorite "Merry Christmas from the Family," by Robert Earl Keene. It's like a party gone wrong in my head.

The good news is music cheers me up the bad news is, I have a lousy voice even inside my brain so I'm forced to listen to screwed up words sung off key. Oh well, it could be worse although I'm not sure how. Anyway, as a treat I give you Robert Earl Keen's Christmas.

Sing it Robert Earl.