Gonna be spending some time this evening thinking about New Year’s Resolutions/Aims. The timing is as arbitrary as any other timing but we really should take any opportunity we get to reflect and redouble our efforts to live better.
Maybe I’ll write about some specific resolutions after I’ve talked it over with the family, but the one general trajectory that I’m constantly trying to refocus is deliberateness.
There are so many forces at work in our lives that want us to slip into habits and patterns of behaviour that advantage someone else. Spending loads of time on ad-funded sites so they get more money, eating and drinking the same things so the people making them make more money, developing a loyalty to brands for literally no reason other than their marketing team have been paid loads of money to convince us that that shit matters.
The mechanisms by which we are encouraged to let everything just flow along with the lowest amount of resistance are very very well trained and highly developed. It doesn’t mean you’re a ‘sheep’ if you find yourself doing mundane shit or falling into mindlessly repetitive patterns. And it’s not even the case that every form of mainstream entertainment or interaction is somehow worse than their indie, homemade alternative.
The trick is to be deliberate about things. Do them on purpose. Repeatedly making the case for doing a thing, pondering how you can make that particular action more meaningful. Doing less of a particular thing but to a much more involved and deeper level.
As an example, being aware of how rarely we finish reading anything online, and how rarely we actually do anything in response to what we’ve read, how rarely we research beyond the confines of the basic gist of a thing… Those options are there for us, but they often appear in an environment that really wants to head off and click on more things to generate more data and show us more ads.
So cultivating deliberateness starts with developing an awareness of what we actually do. Whether sticking a monitoring app on your phone and laptop to see how much time you spend doing things is useful to you is entirely up to you. But maybe start by trying to be present in your own actions, and see how often your level of engagement is driven by a sense that something better is round the corner, that the next thing you click will be more important, the joke will be better, the news will be bigger… Let go of that. Choose to engage with fewer things at a deeper level.
It’s absolutely what I need to do, and maybe you’d like to join me. x
I hope you have a wonderful year. We ended 2019 with a cynical and depressing election, with a breakdown in trust and a gruesome absence of good faith intent in political discourse. So being deliberate about not allowing that kind of reactive, button pushing, divisive, twisted nonsense to infect our personal interactions would help. That doesn’t mean you can’t get angry or disagree, just that we need to be fierce about our commitment to truth, to the wellbeing of others, and to resist the abuse of power to manipulate us into acting in the worst interests of those who are most vulnerable.