Breaking Up with Facebook

It’s not you, it’s me. No, actually it is you.

Breaking up with Facebook

I did something amazing this weekend – I quit Facebook! I finally deleted my account. Well, technically I deactivated it which means I shut it down for an indeterminate amount of time – hopefully forever. Deactivating puts your account on hold but keeps all your stuff (photos, contacts, etc.) if you ever need to go back and it keeps other people from taking your name and impersonating you – another one of my great fears.

I had a long chat with my sister at brunch on Saturday and I realized during our conversation that deleting Facebook was the right move for me. And while I was at it, I also abandoned my Instagram account.

I’ve thought about deleting Facebook for a long time. It has been on my list of New Year’s Resolutions for ages and I am so happy I finally did it. I love reading The Minimalists blog and their ideas have stuck with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to read Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I realize that the only things I want in my life are the things that make me happy and I really believe that I already have everything I want and need. And, Facebook and Instagram are really doing nothing for me.

Why Did I Quit Facebook?

1) I hate Facebook.

2) Facebook adds absolutely no value to my life in any way.

3) Facebook is a colossal waste of time and energy that could be better spent on other things I actually like and find interesting.

4) I am too interested in my own life to care what anyone else is up to.

Facebook and  Instagram are both perfect examples of what I like to call Fake Life. That carefully curated collection that you put on display for friends, family, strangers, etc. Everything you put on there is fake. I can see what you’re doing and you’re not fooling me. So, I’d rather just step away and not engage any more.

Friends?

It took me a long time to get to this point. I’ve been on Facebook for over nine years. Are you kidding me?! If something is going to occupy almost a decade in your life, it better be worth it.

So that is that. I truly feel like an incredible weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I am so looking forward to this newfound freedom.

What about you guys? Do you think you’ll let Facebook take up space in your life for much longer? Let me know!!

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The 2015 Christmas Card Guide

It is the most wonderful time of the year and these are the
most wonderful Christmas and Holiday Cards. 

The 2015 Christmas Card Guide

Drake Sleigh Bells Ring // USD $4.60 – BEYGOODco // Etsy

Drake If You’re Reading This Merry Christmas // USD $4.21 – WacaFlockaLuke // Etsy

Oh What Fun

Oh What Fun! // Set of 12 for $10.46 // Chapters

Let It Snow

Let It Snow // USD $4.00 – TurtlesSoup // Etsy

Droids in Sweaters

Droids In Sweaters // USD $4.13 – MeetMeInShermer // Etsy

Cat Tree

Cat Christmas Tree // USD $3.74 – BeccyKittyDesigns // Etsy

Winter Wonderland

Watercolour Fawn Winter Wonderland // Set of 15 for $10.46 // Etsy

Winter Brownstone

Snowy Brownstone // CAD $6.50 // Room 2046

Hockey

After School Hockey // Set of 20 for $11.19 // Chapters

Jingle All The Way

Jingle All The Way // Set of 12 for $9.06 // Chapters

The Power of Boredom

How to use boredom as the ultimate lifehack.

The Power of Boredom | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I listened to such an interesting podcast this week: Am I Boring You? from the Freakonomics Radio podcast. This is a really great show and I highly recommend it. They aways have interesting content, and they are great storytellers.

Boredom has been a huge interest of mine for a while. Earlier this year I asked: Would you rather be busy or bored? I think it’s a fair question. Would you rather have too much on your plate, or nothing at all? This podcast asks a series of very good questions: What is boredom? Why do we get bored? Does everyone get bored? And, what does it mean?

My takeaway from the show is as follows:

Boredom is an emotion that has developed over time, similar to other instinctual emotions (fear, love, hate, etc.). These emotions are mental triggers that lead us to act. For example, when we are afraid we summon the power to either fight or take flight. Boredom is an emotion that is caused when our brain recognizes that what we are doing has no purpose.

You have mental resources, they’re scarce and they’re really important and valuable, and boredom develops as this signal that mental resources are not being used wisely, they’re not being used on valuable pursuits. -Amanda Markey

You will feel bored when you are in a situation that does not stimulate you, either mentally, physically, spiritually – whatever you wish. When your brain recognizes that you are wasting your time, you will feel bored!

Evolution gave us emotions for survival. So, fear is useful. Anxiety is useful. And even boredom is useful, because you don’t want an organism who just does the same thing over and over again without learning anything. It would be good to equip that organism with an emotion, an urge to move on when they don’t think that they’re learning anything new. -Angela Duckworth

It makes perfect sense. You may be sitting there, wasting your time away, feeling restless and bored and you just don’t know why. It’s because you are not learning anything new! Because you are not challenging yourself! Because you have become stagnant! Your brain recognizes this and it’s trying to tell you something!

The key is to recognize the symptoms of boredom and use it to change your life. The next time you feel bored, you need to stop what you are doing and get out of that situation! Think about what you are doing at that very moment and why you are not learning anything new. And then make a change. Never put yourself in that situation again. Change your attitude. Course correct. Do something that enriches your life, that makes you happy, that makes you feel like you have a purpose.

Do something. Do anything.

Listen to Am I Boring You?  and let me know what you think!

O Canada…

The True North Strong and Free.

Parliament Hill - May 2013

We are in unchartered territory and I don’t really know where to begin. A situation that is still ‘fluid and unfolding’. My beloved Ottawa, my home for four years, in lockdown and under attack. One of the longest days. Watching, listening, following along feeling helpless and horrified. And now, more than twelve hours later, we are still in the dark.

War Memorial - Nov 11 2009

My former journalism student instincts have never really gone away. I love Twitter, and I continually browse headlines during the day to keep an eye on things. It makes me feel like an adult to have a basic understanding of and ability to form a valid opinion on current events. I have taken to reading news on the CBC website, one, because it’s still free, and two, it seems mostly free from partisan bias. Around ten this morning I gave the CBC home page a quick browse, and felt my stomach plummet. Quickly pulling up Twitter, what followed was one of the darkest hours I’ve ever experienced, filled with misinformation, graphic and disturbing photos, and several first-hand accounts from Canadian politicians and journalists on the ground. This whole day has been surreal.

Parliament Hill - Nov 11 2009

I am lucky to follow some truly fascinating people. Their collective commentary during any major event, be it an awards show, the Olympics, any major breaking news, Ferguson in the last few weeks, and now today, is always on point. My carefully curated group of journalists, politicians, key contributors, and news makers, and those who they follow, are always witty and informative. After spending four years in Ottawa, I am following a lot of folks on Parliament Hill, and too many of them were caught up in this fray today. They provided terrifying and viscerally real accounts of what they saw and heard. For me, Twitter is not filler, it is often the most up-to-date and reliable source of breaking news, much more than cable tv or radio news. These people are on the ground and they take their jobs seriously.

Canada Day - 2012

I checked in with my friends who are still in Ottawa and who spent the day in lockdown (thankfully, they were all okay), and admired the quiet authority of Jim Watson, the Mayor of Ottawa, during the RCMP press conference. My news feed was overflowing, and I couldn’t refresh fast enough.

Canada Day - 2012

My Parliament Hill has a stray cat sanctuary, and free yoga on the front lawn, and concerts on Canada Day with accompanying light shows and fireworks. My Ottawa has a free skating rink running through the middle. My Ottawa is clean, beautiful, vibrant, and safe.

Parliament Hill - Gold Medal Celebration 2010

I had hoped that these foreign threats would never touch our shores, and now twice in one week, members of our armed forces have been singled out and murdered. We must watch in fear and feel helpless as our enemies walk through our front door. I feel flashbacks to the first few days of grade eight, when we came in from first recess with whispers of an attack. Where my teacher, Mr. Mele, sat at the only computer in the classroom trying to access CNN’s website. The computer was big, white, and clunky, and the internet was fledgling and slow. We couldn’t get beyond the homepage. We had no access to information and no updates and we were totally in the dark. When I got home from school, I sat in front of the TV in disbelief for hours, simultaneously mesmerized and horrified by the loop footage of the Twin Towers.

Today, I rushed home from work and have been watching television coverage for the past few hours. I am older, but still feel afraid. Unable to take my eyes away from the footage of my beloved Ottawa under attack.

Canada Day - 2011

I am of the generation called the Millennials. I am the post 9/11 generation. Raised on Harry Potter and MSN Messenger. Early adopters of new technology. Living under the looming threat of terrorism. You don’t have to tell us to ‘stay vigilant’. We get it. We’ve already had it for a long time. We’ve been maintaining constant vigilance since Moody warned us about the Death Eaters back in the day.

Doubting myself, wondering if my unfortunate heavy double dose of patriotism and sensationalism was causing me to overreact, I felt isolated and alone today. Nobody in my immediate vicinity seemed to know nor care about the situation unfolding in Ottawa. I feel like I need to divide the people and influencers in my life by our shared values. Today was an exercise in that. My close friends, and some fellow former journalism students on Twitter, shared my concerns and I felt comforted by their shared reactions.

I want nothing more right now than for Peter Mansbridge to fold the nation in his warm embrace and tell us all that we’re going to be okay, and that everything will soon be well.

Canadian Flag

❤ Ottawa ❤ Canada ❤ you too, Toronto

Tomorrow is another day, and we must remain the True North, Strong and Free.

Canada Day

* My apologies for disconnected and incomplete thoughts. Written after a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, very emotional day, while flipping between CBC, CTV, Global, and TVO for six hours straight, heart aching, head pounding…

Flash in the Pan

We’re #1! Right above #rolluptherim.

Last Monday, our journalism lecture live-tweeted during a presentation and our hashtag, #j4k (short for our course code, JOUR4000) became the number one trending topic in Canada for a short time. I took a screen shot.

This probably means very little to people who don’t use Twitter. But for the active 12 or so people in our class who do use it, this was pretty cool. I have a feeling that our class, and the creation of a course hashtag, will be used in a case-study somewhere. When journalism students use Twitter during class, something monumental is just bound to happen. We’ll see if there is a repeat tomorrow morning.

Update 03/23/10:
So much press. I love it! We’re kind of famous. Article on J-Source and on Carleton’s website.

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

I just wanted to show off my new flavors.me homepage. I’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while. I wanted a splash page that was stylish, user friendly, and easy to navigate. Flavors.me is all of those things.

I like Flavors.me for three reasons:

  1. It looks great.
  2. It was easy to create.
  3. It is efficient.

It will take less than ten minutes to craft and design your Flavors homepage. The customization options are very simple and easy to use. And it collects a bunch of your most important links and puts  them all in one really good looking page.

I changed my homepage url on Twitter from this blog to the splash page. This blog shows off my work and what I’m doing, but not everybody who clicks through from Twitter is interested in that. Maybe they want to see my photos or foursquare. Using the Flavors page let’s the user make the decision, instead of forcing something on them.

It also presents a more varied display of what I do and what I’m intersted in. Right now I have collected my blog, flickr photos, twitter stream, my tumblr and posterous accounts and my foursquare feed in one spot. Mine is pretty basic, but you can look at what some other users have created for inspiration in their design gallery here.

Flavors.me seems to be catching on. I read about Flavors.me while reading Amandalyn Ferri’s blog a while ago, and today I noticed that Lifehacker did a little write up about it here.

I’ve started using a lot of new services in the last month or so: Flavors, Buzz, Foursquare and Posterous. More on those later.

“You Should Follow Me On Twitter Here.”

Marching to the drum of Dustin Curtis.

Last night I came across this post by Dustin Curtis about Twitter and click-through rates. Curtis studied the click-through rates based on different prompts to readers, urging them to follow him on Twitter.

“Follow me on twitter” is the phrase I usually use. Curtis discovered that he got a 7.31 per cent click-through rate with this prompt. “You should follow me on twitter here” raised the click-through rate to 12.81 per cent. This is an impressive increase.

According to professor Wikipedia: click-through rates are calculated by taking the number of times a person clicks on a link or ad and dividing that by the number of times that the link was available for viewing. For example, if my About Me page was viewed one hundred times, and five people clicked the link to my Twitter page, then I could have a click-through rate of 5 per cent.

There are a couple of cool things about this study:

  • Curtis uses a lower-case t in twitter instead of a capital T in Twitter. This is something new to me. I think it works because it slips in the command seamlessly. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the sentence by having Capital Letters throwing off your GROOVE. Also having a capital Twitter just seems a bit overpowering, while lower-case twitter seems nice and friendly.
  •  The command is a bit stern: You should follow me on twitter here. It just sounds so tough. But, if you think about it, a lot of people may have no idea what Twitter is or what you do on Twitter. If you sound like you have authority in this area, the herds may be more willing to follow you. It’s 10 per cent what you say, and 90 per cent how you type it.

I’m going to follow his lead, and I am already following him on Twitter (@dcurtis). I’ve put that command in my About page and I look forward to seeing if there is any change in my click-through rates. One more thing:

You should follow me on

twitter here.

NaNoWriMo

I should be doing homework.

NaNoWriMoI just signed up to take part in National Novel Writing Month. Basically you have 30 days to write a 50,000 word novel. Nobody has to see it, nobody has to read it, you just have to write it!

I remember hearing about this in highschool, and now I’m finally going to do it. Now I just have to figure out how to schedule in an extra 1,500+ words everyday for the next month, on top of school stuff and real life.

Update 12/19/09:
What a failure. I wrote 1,228 words. And they were not very good words at that. Between my feature articles and essays due in November, this project was doomed from the start. Poor thing. Not a problem though. There is always next year. There is always any time of the day for writing, now that I think about it. I’m not confined to an online competition. Here’s to another 1,228+ words.

New Maclean’s OnCampus Post

A text message that could save your life.

I just hit publish on a new Maclean’s OnCampus blog post about my school’s new Emergency Notificaiton System. Check it out here.

Big Thoughts Hurt My Brain

When Free Association meets Stream of Consciousness.

I was lying in bed last night and I had one of those moments when you start thinking something simple like “I wonder if there are any good movies playing this weekend.” and it mutates into “I wonder if I should buy my own website domain.” 

My mind just started to wander through all the things I have to do and things I want to do and two hours later I was still thinking. What kind of leaders will my generation be when we are all grown up? We live our lives on Facebook and YouTube and have no concept of privacy but a great understanding of popularity and the power of view counts. What will we do in 30 years when somebody pulls out a cached store of Facebook photos of the next Prime Minister? What is wrong with us? I could go on. Uhh the internet. It freaks me out sometimes.

Things I was thinking about last night that I still remembered when I woke up this morning:

  1. I sold a textbook at Haven!! I was cleaning my room earlier this spring and I was just transfering my big textbooks from my side table to my bookshelf to my desk to the floor. After a while you just have to be honest with yourself and admit that as much as you loved your Intro to Archaeology class there is no way that you will ever pick up that thousand-page book for a little light reading any time soon. So I put them all up for sale and now when I get back to Ottawa I will have a little surprise waiting for me in the form of a cheque. Money in the bank.
  2. I want to start a podcast. I get about this far into starting in and then I get distracted. I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.
  3. I want to try Tumblr. They say it’s “the easiest way to blog.” And they give you 21 reasons why you will love it. They make a convincing argument, but then again, I am easily impressed. What is up with Tumblr and Flickr and why don’t they want to buy a vowel? Ahh! Ok I just did it. I feel like I am spreading myself too thin. I would rather be really good at a few things than mediocre at a lot of things. I am going to justify this venture by saying that I want to try out a new blogging platform.  (I’m sorry WordPress. Don’t cast me out just yet. This is field research. Archaeology remember?)