Tag Archives: Friends

What I Learned In 2015

Year end summaries are kind of a mixed bag.

We can read lists that convince us that we are living in magical wonderful times, truly the best times to be alive. Or we can read something that makes us believe that we’re all going to “hell in a handbasket” which if you think about it, is a rather cheerful conveyance. Better than going to hell in a washing machine or a Ford Focus.

I think at the end of the day, our perception of the year is subjective, and very personal. “Did I have a good year?”

Generally speaking, yes. I turned 30, as did a lot of my friends. My wife and I celebrated our 7th anniversary and nine years of being together overall. I said goodbye to one car, and hello to another. I published a book. I got a new dog, moved my office to the basement, and spent a lot of time with friends. And I found a new place to get a good Reuben.

I’m not one of those people who analyzes their growth over the past year, but there are a couple of things I’ve picked up on that might be of use to you:

  • Change can be good – I loved my upstairs office, and was a little reluctant to move into the basement. I think I have a pretty good idea of what things will be like without seeing them. Some people need to move things around before they can be sure if they like something, whereas I like to do that moving in my head. The thing is… on this one I was totally wrong. My basement office\man cave is awesome. I should have moved down there years ago. And so far, I’ve stayed home working rather than trying to find coffee shops to get work done in (which was often just an excuse for some HPB shopping later, shhh).
  • If the pizza says “Epic Meats” it probably will be a mistake – I’m getting a little better about some food decisions. I’m discovering that bad food makes me feel bad. Also sleep is good. And coffee is wonderful, but too much caffeine is not. I still have my weaknesses, but I’m learning to say no to things I used to say “oh, what the hell?” to. Baby steps people, baby steps.
  • Finishing projects feels good – Sure it’s exhausting, but seeing the first physical copy of Surreality was deeply satisfying. I highly recommend it. Oh… and finish your books too.
  • There’s more room than you think – I wanted one dog. I thought our house could only support one dog. I thought my whole life would be deeply disrupted by the addition of another dog. And now I can’t imagine not having Murphy, even though the boy needs to learn that occasionally daddy needs both his hands to type. Or he can spring for the speech-to-text software.
  • Make a conscious effort on friendships – Some friendships can run on autopilot for a while and be okay, but deep friendships, be it with your spouse or your best friends need work, give and take, and time. I’m an introvert by nature, and have the tendency to not notice when long stretches of time have gone by since I’ve last talked to someone. Thanks to everyone who pulled me out of my shell a little more.

How was your 2015?

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I Just Can’t Take It Any More

Facebook might try to save your life.

In the current issue of PC Magazine are “10 Things You Should Know About Facebook’s New Privacy Policy“. Most of them are pretty straightforward. Facebook is archiving every like, friend request and message you send and letting advertisers use that information on and off Facebook. If your messages or statuses seem to indicate that you intend to do harm to yourself or others, Facebook might intervene. In other words, if I post that I am depressed and want to kill myself, Facebook might put me in contact with agencies for Suicide prevention. If I say I plan to commit a crime, they might send someone to arrest me.

I’m not sure what to think about that.

I think the crime thing won’t be all that effective. It will catch roughly the same amount of criminals as the “are you a terrorist?” question. If anything, it may lead to situations where someone making a joke is taken a little too seriously (as profiled on This American Life a few years ago).

But suicide isn’t a joke.

Last Christmas a 42 year old woman posted that she had taken an overdose and would be dead soon. None of her 1048 Facebook friends helped her, called the police, called her, called anyone. Some chose to mock her online.

This woman is not alone.

In response to these and other incidents, and calls from people in the industry, Facebook has formed a partnership with the Samaritans to Prevent Suicide, and also actively takes down pro-suicide Facebook groups.

I think these are both good things, but it disturbs me that they are necessary. How close are we really to our friends, to anybody? Are we keeping track of what’s going on in each other’s lives, are we encouraging each other when we’re down? Or are we just voyeuristic, checking up on old girlfriends, trying to figure out who’s married, successful, or not?

We were talking about the Good Samaritan in church this Sunday, and the number of people who passed by without stopping to help. In the case of the 42 year old woman, not only did 1048 people pass by, some stopped to point and laugh.

What are we doing?

It shouldn’t be up to Facebook to step in to save people who are lost like this. It should be up to us. And if we’re not really ready to care about what’s going on with our hundreds of ‘friends’, then maybe we shouldn’t be friends anymore.

Maybe all 1048 friends thought someone else had stepped in, and that they didn’t need to. Maybe they didn’t think she was serious. It’s understandable, and it’s sad. We’re sharing more of ourselves than ever, but more and more we’re doing it in a crowded room, where no one will really hear us. I’ve joked a lot about not being worried about what I put out on the net because there’s too much information glut for anyone to really take notice of me.

It’s probably true.

It’s a good thing Facebook is doing, but maybe part of “loving our neighbors” is seeing what they’re up to online.

NOTE: I didn’t know about any of these stories until doing a little research. Is this something I just missed, or have other people never heard about these cases?

Oh, and just so we’re clear, I’m fine. 

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When Should I Talk About Writing?

I used to have a rule about when I was allowed to talk about writing. If I had not worked on my book in the last 24 hours I could not talk about it. It didn’t matter whether it was drafting new material, or revising as long as I had been working on the book. The idea behind this was two-fold. One was to motivate me to actually do work on the book, since I love talking about it, and two was to limit the amount of times I was bombarding others.

We all want to talk about our passions, even when we know that those around us do not care. Actually, it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they don’t want to dicuss the subject as often or in as great of detail as we would if given the opportunity.

I especially have a tendency to voice every little idea I have in my head, usually to my wife. I do like to have a sounding board, and there are times when these interactions are great, but you have to pick your moment. Sometimes I sit on an idea for a while, just to make sure it wasn’t a flight of fancy, before really getting into it with someone else.

I thought for a while that the blog would be helpful in this regard, and sometimes it is. It’s a great proving ground for ideas and stories, and for a while I thought that it would slake my thirst for talking about writing all the time. It’s actually had much the opposite effect, I end up talking about the blog and the writing constantly. Talking with fellow writers also has the same effect. The more you talk about something, the more you want to talk about it with others.

My rule worked for when writing was something I did from time to time, but since I’ve made it my daily business, I need a new rule (and probably one for talking about computers as well).

Maybe I need to be a little more deliberate, choose specific times and places, instead of while my wife is cooking dinner. It’s not wrong to be excited, to be passionate. In fact some people even find these qualities attractive. But there is a difference between being passionate and yammering on about something. Maybe instead of talking so much, some doing is necessary.

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