Monthly Archives: February 2011

Eating Chips for Breakfast

As I was eating potato chips for breakfast, I had the urge to update facebook. My status would read: “Shawn McDonald is eating chips for breakfast.” I’m sure that would’ve received several likes and one or two comments, at least.

I’m limiting my facebook usage to M-W-F, only once per day, and it was a Saturday, so I couldn’t update facebook. I sat there thinking how I could express this to the world. Maybe I could make a comic? No, “I’m eating chips for breakfast” isn’t a good comic. There’s not enough there. I could perhaps extend it to comment on adulthood and the possibilities of eating whatever the fuck you want. Maybe I could too comment on the stomach ache I would probably get later.

In any case, when it comes to facebook, the thinking can stop at “is eating chips for breakfast.” That’s sufficient to get lots of attention. It’s pretty lazy, though. So, I think that facebook limits my creativity. I stop thinking before I really get anywhere.

Before I started this social media diet, I had this vague anxiety about ruining my comedy. Now, I have this specific example of facebook limiting my imagination.

Uninstalling Silverlight

Oh my god! I finally got Silverlight removed after months. There’s been this Windows Update sitting forever on my Windows 7 laptop that’s supposed to update Silverlight, but it keeps failing. I tried to solve this by updating Silverlight at their website. Instead, when I ran the installer, it said it couldn’t find the msi to uninstall the previous version. I tried uninstalling Silverlight with Add/Remove Programs, but that didn’t work either. Different websites gave different solutions: None worked. (Dot dot dot) until now! I found this in a forum:

Instructions distilled:

Run regedit. Delete this key: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT / installer / products / D7314F9862C648A4DB8BE2A5B47BE100

Bam. Done.

After that, I was able to successfully update Silverlight from the website. And the next time I ran Windows Update, nothing failed.

Social Media Vacation

I was using facebook and twitter a lot. I felt guilty for using them so often because it was eating up time I could be using to actually accomplish something. I felt anxiety because the continuous partial attention may be ruining my ability to think. I’d considered quitting twitter, but I hadn’t made any decisions. Then, I did something I hadn’t really done in a while: Reflected on life, evaluated what was happening, and proposed a change.

While using them, I was deep in the grips of loss aversion. I can’t quit! I’ll lose communication channels! I need to stay updated! I’ll miss out on information! So, I needed to take a step back and evaluate the pros and cons. I needed to figure out if the benefits outweighed the negatives. I also needed to specifically categorize what I’d be losing out on. Fear is aided by vagueness. My loss aversion could be conquered by clinical, analytical precision.

When I evaluated twitter, I decided that I could quit. Twitter wasn’t improving my joke writing, or my writing in general. (Aside: Maybe if I had found twitter before webcomics, I would be exclusively a writer because I can’t draw well.) It actually reduced the domain of jokes I could make because I wasn’t writing dialogue anymore. There are cool links on twitter, but I don’t need them when I already read the blogs of the people I follow. In fact, this wasn’t really a benefit because I felt that I needed to cut information intake so I could produce more. Twitter’s mostly empty calories, anyway. (Example: What’s the point of reading cool little tidbits from Smashing Magazine on web programming, if I’m not spending enough time doing actual web programming? Moreover, reading code would probably be a better use of time.) There were jokes, but I read web comics anyway, so I didn’t need them; I get enough laughs. Roger Ebert has become annoying by constantly hawking Amazon wares. That left a few people who I follow personally: Lloyd and Erin. The rest of the people don’t update enough to be that much of a loss. Most of Lloyd’s updates are pictures, and I confess that I don’t often click on pictures on twitter.

I actually talked to Erin about how much she updates (I was talking to Stevie about twitter at their apartment) and she only said once a day. When I told her that I was thinking about quitting Twitter, she said, “But how will I ever know about your fantasy football team?” I thought that might be reason enough to quit; that is, I don’t need to bore people with that stuff.

So, I wouldn’t lose that much by quitting twitter. I could still engage with everyone I needed to through other channels.

What would I gain? I think the phrase “addition by subtraction” is helpful. More time. More attention. It’s one less thing to pay attention to, and one less thing to distract me. Less empty calories, which I could replace with better reading. My writing would probably get better too.

Since this post has gone on longer than I thought, I’ll try to wrap up and I’ll write about facebook another time.

I decided that quitting Twitter was a net gain. So, right now I’m taking a vacation from twitter. I think I’ll do it for three weeks, but I doubt I’ll want to go back after that.

I still click on the link, but I don’t sign in (more on the addiction later, too). I tell myself. Would you rather browse twitter all day? Or would you rather read Marcus Aurelius? I tell myself I’d rather read Marcus, but I’m still not there yet. I’ll read a few pages and get distracted. Still, this is a start.

If you’re reading this, leave me a little note about Twitter. Do you use Twitter? How often? Is having it a net gain or net loss? Do you think your time browsing twitter is okay, or would you rather read a classic book? Is that a false dichotomy?

A few notes

Note 1.

I’m back. I took an unannounced hiatus from blogging. My lack of output was stressing me out, but all this stress didn’t inspire me to write awesome things. So, here I am, refreshed, and also in less physical pain than I was not too long ago.

Note 2.

I looked at my “About Me” page and it is terribly out of date. Things that were important to my identity are no longer that important. Yeah, sure, I’m an atheist, but I don’t give it as much thought as I used to. I’m not involved in any communities and I don’t feel any need to proselytize or argue.

I think my political views have moved beyond conservative apostate. But politics no longer has the appeal it once used to have. I used to really, really want to be president, but now I don’t think it’s a very appealing job. In fact, it’s probably an impossible job. (It’s too much to manage; we can discuss this at length at another time.)

It needs an update. Before I update it, though, I need to do more thinking, and I’ll try to do that thinking on this blog.

Note 3.

I release myself from the obligation to be prolific on this blog. First off, I’m spread kind of thin. Second, I think a better focus on quality would give me more psychic ease.