Code Smoothie

New Year’s Resolution: Less Social Media and More Writing

My New Years resolution is to get off browsable social media for a month. No Hacker News (unless on specific business, such as finding a current event for history class), Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. I have none of these apps on my phone, anyway, but I will have to block these websites on my computer.

Why? Because I am impulsive and compulsive, and I waste too much time browsing aimlessly on these websites, further rewiring my brain to favor breadth and novelty over the triteness of a single train of thought. I used to think that quickly switching between processing many things (which now I realize is akin to multitasking) would allow my subconscious to effectively process these things over time. However, many of my experiences would scream otherwise. I am terrible at writing, often terrible at explaining things by mouth, because my train of thought jumps around quickly, making it impossible to follow. I wrote subpar pieces in English class in high school, where the instructors said that I had good ideas but inadequate reasoning and explanation that could connect and transition my ideas. I struggled in U.S. History not because I had not internalized the content enough; rather, I could not get my knowledge down in a single train of thought on paper. Dear self, I hope you see the contradiction here: synthesis and analysis on paper is recognized in secondary education as proof of understanding the material! Have I thoroughly internalized history lessons that I can write about them?

And yes, writing about my problem makes me so excited and proud of myself. Writing this piece is different than most others: I don’t have a piece of paper or a laptop in front of me; I am holding a phone. Yes, I also happen to be brutally honest in my paper journal book, but typing on a phone is so fast, natural, like you’re ranting to a friend or typing a quick comment to a thread on the web that is Wrong™ or Missing the Point™. It has nearly all the benefits of any “real” writing device, without the negative associations, the learned helplessness, that comes with those devices. All too often I sit down at a desk and just stare into space trying to find good words and relevant ideas, too afraid of the shame that comes with producing a piece of crap. Imposing the conservative structure of the essay, with its requirements for a thesis and three main points and transitions and conclusion, turns writing into a formula that I almost never use correctly. Furthermore, I can usually find reasons that the prompt invites a discussion interesting and applicable to me, but not having the freedom to brew other ideas and finally ordaining this, this, and this produces in me the same effect as apathy.

How much does freedom invite creativity? The Nautilus published an article saying that being bored makes you more creative. And my experience tells me the same. Having leisure time, first of all, is what allows me to explore intellectual and artistic things on my own. I’ve noticed that many creative people who I admire do not burden themselves with too much stress.

Ideas and Goals, in thought bubbles, with the second half of the word "plans" fallen on the floor

After resuming on an Amtrak in the later afternoon, I will attempt to pick up my train of thought (ha!).

My other New Year’s resolution is writing regularly (how regularly, I have not decided, since I don’t know how much leisure time I have). This includes posting on my blog, giving meaningful responses on Hacker News, and writing emails and letters to people back home. May this blog be filled with selfish posts of self-reflection this year.