10 Days without Social Media
Almost 2 weeks ago, I had a major personal disappointment that really affected me. Unfortunately it happened the night before the first year anniversary of my father's death. While the turn of events were incredibly upsetting, I didn't think at the time that it was anything that I couldn't deal with alone. I didn't want to outright tell anyone I was overwhelmed, but I did have the urge to say depressing things on my social media accounts, Twitter especially. As struggled to avoid sad tweets, I was having trouble concentrating at work. I became increasingly distracted and found myself just staring out the window or at pictures on Facebook. In a brief moment of clarity, I thought to myself that I would just quit social media for a while and try to deal with my personal turmoil. I firmly decided that if I had to say anything then I would say in person it to someone who cared. And if I had to write anything then it wouldn't be short tweets or posts - I would it write it down in complete thoughts.
And ... so I did. I signed off Facebook, killed Facebook Messenger. Signed off Instagram. Disconnected Twitter on all my computers and devices. No more Snapchat. Even stopped Google+, Untappd and BuzzFeed just to be thorough. The world became dark. Man, was it ever. But in that darkness I could hear myself think - or rather I could filter my thoughts from the constant random comments, pictures, rants or political jests.
So what was it like? Well everything went by so slowly. So painfully slow! I literally had no idea what was going on in the world or even my backyard. I don't have cable TV, don't listen to the radio much and haven't spent too much time talking with co-workers recently. True, I was trying to get over my personal issues and didn't show much interest, but I was still curious. I did wonder if anyone even noticed I stopped tweeting. I did feel some emptiness as it occurred to me that some of my family and close friends don't often text or call, but do constantly communicate or share info over social media. And I was missing that. Even as I write this, I feel anxiety about what all happened while I was "out".
I noticed for the first 3-4 days that I would habitually pick up my phone, turn on the screen, realize I had nothing to check, then I put it back down. There were some long days that I was excited to see a text or email (even from work). However now that I made to 10 days, I've almost completely stopped looking at my phone. In fact, the only time I did recently was to check the time. I'm worried that when I sign back on I might relapse into constantly reading Twitter. Of course, for almost the entire time I was disconnected, I wanted to tweet or post about what it was like to be disconnected. I even started keeping mental track of smart things I was going to tweet when I signed back on.
So looking back, I'm glad I did it. I did find it easier to get through my troubles by not being glued to a tiny screen. I did get a good break to reflect on my life and priorities. I talked more on phone with some of my friends in the past week or so, than I've done in months. I did rediscover that I have a (very) crappy blog which I really haven't spent any time on in years. All the notes I wrote down (on paper or electronically) were definitely therapeutic - and I'm not done writing things down.
I was surprised seeing how poor I had become at writing, but even so, I'm sure I want to write more. Does it help with the sadness? Yes, a little. Am I over the sadness? No, not really. I will write just for me. I hope my future self stumbles upon these words one day and realizes what a journey he's made from those 10 long and sad days.
Posted in: Life,
30 Years Ago
At this time 30 years ago, my parents were bringing my siblings and me into the United States to start a new life. They came with a few suitcases, limited money and 4 kids under the age of 8. They derived their strength from nothing other than the support of their family and their faith in God.
For all the times I've thought my parents did not take any chances or feared risk, I cannot imagine what courage it took to make such a difficult journey. To leave their home, family and friends and travel 8,000 miles to other side of the world. On this Father's Day I thank both my father and my mother for their immense sacrifice. Sadly neither did ever see their parents again.
At times I wonder if I could ever do what they did. Thanks to them, I don't think I will ever have to.
Posted in: Life,
Paying to watch Game of Thrones
For fans of the show, it should be no surprise that Game of Thrones was the most pirated show of 2012. Though I had absolutely NO interest whatsoever, during my seasonal cable usage I received 3 months free of HBO and decided to watch Game of Thrones. And ... now I'm hooked. I surprised myself, as I didn't expect to enjoy this genre of television.
So today (3/31/13) is the premiere of Season 3 of Game of Thrones. I do want to watch it, but subscribing for HBO (and the update to my cable) does not sound appealing. I thought through my options:
- Subscribe to cable and HBO for 10 weeks. This comes out to apx $75 total.
- Wait for the Bluray: This comes out to apx $45. However I have to wait till apx 1 month before the next season. So that would be around February/March of 2014.
- I could purchase it through some streaming method (Amazon VOD/iTunes). This comes out to about $40 and has a similar delay as the Bluray.
The down sides to each of those options:
- The cable companies are downright evil. Paying for cable annoys me.
- I personally don't like to own unnecessary physical items. If I had Blurays I doubt I would actually ever watch them more than once.
- Streaming, while great in general, is lower quality video. (Though to be fair some cable providers do a poor job encoding their HD television broadcasts.)
So my compromise is to sign up for HBO only for the last half of the season. Since Comcast provides OnDemand playback of episodes of the current season, I can easily watch all 10 episodes over the course of a month or so. The cost would be closer to $25-35 depending on when exactly I sign up. And overall, the delay of another month or so seems reasonable.
I'm not sure why I didn't consider this in the past. I've been paying for Showtime for 10 weeks out of the year to watch Dexter and probably will do the same.
Yes, I know that I could join the piracy, but I choose not to.
Posted in: Television, Internet, Random,
I registered this domain name mjmwired.net 10 years ago to this date. My younger brother helped me pick out the name. This was after spending several months asking people who owned various domains with 'mjm' (which were unused) if they would agree to sell them to me. Nothing worked out. I ended up using a registrar that my older brother used, and used first paid hosting service I could find that allowed shell access. It only cost me $40/year.
Back then, blogs I read mostly existed on Blogger (which Google had acquired only a month earlier) and other cheasy sites (like Xanga). I remember most self hosted blogs/sites I read used MovableType, but I found the software a little difficult and I wasn't much for Perl. I was too cheap to purchase Radio Userland. I remember looking at WordPress which had not even reached a 1.0 yet (which happened 3 months later) and found it missed a few critical features.
So, I downloaded some tutorials and started hacking away at some code. It would take me 2 months before I could say "I'm Done". Those were 2 fun months. I miss the enthusiasm I had back then even though some of the self inflicted torture makes me wince. I ended up installing Apache/MySQL on Windows 2000 just to do web development! My Linux (RedHat 7.3 at the time) would have been much more suitable but the web was dominated by Internet Explorer (Netscape 7 was struggling).
Lots has happened since those few months in 2003. I don't think my site ever made a significant impact (though I'm somewhat proud my resources pages have had several million views in the past 10 years) but I'm happy with what I've done. The last few years haven't been as productive as they could have been, but its never too late to start again.
I hope to be writing more, I really do.
Posted in: Website,
The Little Things Add Up
A year ago today, I quit my job of over 6 years. In the 12 months following, so many things both positive and negative occurred that I can't honestly decide if it was a good year or a bad one. The only certainty is that it will forever influence my life.
When I think about any of the situations I faced last year, I realize that either I was ready or not. Everything I had done up to a certain point prepared me for it. This maybe obvious in a job scenario, but it applies equally well to health issues or personal matters. It really isn't an excuse for someone to say that they didn't have time to prepare. Every day we automatically prepare ourselves for tomorrow.
I don't have any advice or motivational message here. Just that when I pause and look back I know I'm glad I did do some things correctly and took care of myself. And when the situation was bleak, only then do I begin to see the negative things left to fester.
The little things, good or bad, they all add up.
Posted in: General, Life, Philosophy,