Discipling the Body

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Love is the light scaring darkness away.


The title of today’s post is taken from the song “The Power of Love” – You can read the lyrics here: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/gabrielleaplin/thepoweroflove.html

I first hear the song when it was sung by the brother duo Richard and Adam on their album The Impossible Dream. I became aware of that album after hearing them on a youtube video of their audition on Britain Got Talent. It’s a powerful rendition of the son “The Impossible Dream” from the musical Man of La Mancha about Don Quixote.  Watch their audition here.

I’ve always loved this song. It’s a powerful call to action, for anyone troubled the injustices of the world. Give it a listen.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true 
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

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ProTip: Don’t use SSO


A quick post to highlight a potential problem with leaving Facebook (or any other social media site). Many apps and websites offer the option or the requirements to create a user account to use that service. On more and more apps and websites, you now have the option of using your social media logins as what’s known as a Single Sign On (SSO).

The benefit is that it’s quick and skips the step of having to verify your email address and it automatically sets you up to share your data to those sites. The downside is that if you ever leave those social networks, your SSO will no longer work. I have a number of apps on my phone that I have previously used SSO for. I haven’t contacted the app maker to see if my user account can be associated with my email address and thus avoiding the loss of historical data, I instead have opted to simply created new accounts. I don’t really care what run I did a year ago, so loosing that data, for me, is no big deal.

So, here’s my recommendation: Don’t use SSO. It will just make it harder to leave social media if should so choose. It takes an extra minute to sign up with an email account. You can do it. I have faith in you.

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Miss what?

My friend Lindsey sent me an email about my departure from Facebook. It read in part:

I love that you have a facebook disconnect countdown. But really, why bring it back when your son is born. I challenge you over the next 50 days to find ways to share your ups and downs with another audience (not social media) to get stronger, more personalized feedback that you won’t need to rejoin facebook to gain the gratification of likes or comments. Thinking of ya!

Well Lindsey, challenge accepted! That is of course, mostly the point. What will I replace it with. For that matter, how much time will I discover I have been spending on social media that I can now spend on other pursuits?

Over the next many days, I want to relax, see what I notice about my time and about the world around me. What interests and passions do I want to pursue more of? What opportunities will present themselves and what will I learn about myself?

So far, I’ve noticed that I don’t miss it much. I really don’t. Every so often I stare at my iPhone, expecting a notification to be waiting for me. Finding nothing I move on with my day. What this tells me is that I don’t miss the actual content, it’s the spark of chemically induced happiness caused by a notification, that I miss.

So, first thing I’ve learned: I’ve gained some more time and some more peace. So, 2 days in, it’s going well.

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Too much

We know too much about each other these days. What I mean to say is that, I think we can find out too much about others earlier than we used to be able too. We used to have to sit down and talk to someone, perhaps for days, weeks or months before we found out certain things about them. Nowadays, a lot is just freely available online; especially through social media. This is creating a false sense of intimacy and is perhaps inhibiting the development of true friendships built on a foundation laid over time, through conversation and experience.

These days we can meet someone, sometimes for the first time, and we about their family, where they went on vacation, their political or religious views and who they appear to have close relationships too. We meet them thinking we know all this stuff about them, but in fact, we don’t know THEM. Conversely, they may very well not know that much about us, so there is an imbalance. Some of us give more of ourselves online than others, and certainly I would be classified as a heavy user.

But, as I looked over my Facebook timeline this morning, for the last time before I deactivated it, I saw pictures, links to articles, all the normal stuff and I thought… Why do I care? Why do I care what movie you watched last night? Why do I care that your life is over because they ran out of your favourite ice cream? I do enjoy seeing people’s vacation photos, but I at the same time I don’t get he commentary to go along with it. I would prefer to sit with a friend, drink in hand, and go through the photos and have them tell me about their trip: what brought them joy, what went wrong, what problems did they have to solve, what did they experience, and what did they learn? Most people aren’t going to go to the trouble of writing that stuff down when they add their top 15 photos from the day in wherever and whatever city.

So, it’s not just what we learn, but what we don’t learn. While I don’t see as many “fights” online as I used to, what I don’t see is that it’s been replaced with building people up. Instead, I see apathy or just nothing. No attempt to engage one way or the other. We just post things without comment. We, essentially, just drop a newspaper on the floor, walk away and maybe someone picks it up. It doesn’t tell us what you think or what your purpose was in dropping it. It’s a little bit of digital litter.

Maybe it’s because we see others posting things and we don’t want to be left out of the conversation (non-conversation). I worry that social media is not increasing or improving our ability to have genuine and meaningful conversation. Certainly, it has helped serve as a platform to launch revolutions in countries, but this sort of massive social change and meaning, seem pretty rare.

I know I’m sounding a bit down on social media. I do recognize that there have been many positive things come out of this new media revolution, but if we are too improve it, we need to acknowledge the flaws and repair them, so we can bring more good to it.

More engagement. Less litter.

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Minimize the Inputs

Following up on my post yesterday, here are the first steps I’m taking to regain control of my time and attention:

  • Deactivating Facebook
  • Keeping the twitter app on my phone, but turning off notifications. I occasionally need this for work, and it’s a pain to log back in to the various accounts, so I’ll keep it installed, tucked into a folder. 
  • Deleted my Instagram apps
  • Deleted my RSS reader apps
  • Deleted my Pocket apps
  • Deleted most of my YouTube playlists.

I’m still down with reading blogs occasionally, but I have some of my favourites bookmarked. This should add enough friction that I won’t visit them too often. The new rule, is not to check them unless I have time to read them, right then and there. The strength of read it later services like Pocket and Instapaper is that it saves the article for offline reading, so you can read it anywhere. Whereas, reading an article when you have to be connected means there are only certain times when you can read them. I think it adds more intentionality.

Facebook is my biggest foe. I’ve done social media fasts before, usually during Lent and I really enjoy them. It’s very freeing. While I am a little worried about what I may miss, I know in reality that I won’t miss much. I may miss some birthdays, but in reality, I don’t know most of these folks well enough to wish them a happy birthday normally, so do FB best wishes really mean that much. I’m tired of being addicted to the little red badge, and the multitude of Birthday wishes, when in reality there are just a few that are truly meaningful.

I plan on being off Facebook at least until my second son is born in about 50 days. Even then, I wonder. I feel this urge to share pictures of the new life that will appear in the world. I know many people will be genuinely happy for us, but I wonder. I wonder if the positives outweigh the negatives. When Facebook first came around, I was one of the last of my friends to get on board. I didn’t understand the purpose of it. I’m not sure if I have any clearer answer now. It has allowed me to make connections that previously would have been difficult, but it can also cause great damage to in-person relationships. I’m not saying social media is inherently evil or anything. The company itself may have issues, but the tool is amoral. How you use it defines whether it’s used for a moral or immoral purpose.

We’ll see what this experiment brings and whether or not I do reactivate my account when our son is born.

I can already tell that I will become less clingy to my phone. I will stay keep it with me, especially when I’m at work and my wife is at home with our child(ren), but I won’t really have anything to “check” because as much as I still have a ton of apps on my phone, most of them don’t have a purpose until I activate them. They don’t bing, bond, boop, or bop unless I tell them to. So, right away my relationship with my technology with change. I imagine for a while I will feel that pull to check my phone, just in case I missed a notification and the POTUS needs me to negotiate a peace accord; or worse, my wife needs me to pick up something from the grocers on the way home.

Will my relationship with technology become more relaxed over time. Will I see my iPhone and iPad more like tools for my use and not the other way around? Will I then turn to alternate sources of information and entertainment, like, I don’t know: books?

I also want to look at limiting the amount of TV I watch (we’re a no cable, iTunes/Netflix family). So much of TV is formulaic and I’m guessing what the plot twists are and usually can guess who the murder is before the midway point of the show.

So, that’s where I’m at so far. Facebook disconnect: T-48 hours.

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Lists, lists and more lists.

List 2

I have to do lists for work and personal life, and playlists; YouTube playlists, iTunes wish lists, lists of books waiting to be read, lists of saved articles to read later, a full RSS reader, lists of skills I want to acquire and character traits I want to fire and acquire. Lists of movie I may want to rent or buy, lists in my head of all the subjects I find interesting, grocery lists, list of things to do before baby 2. I have my Facebook feed (a kind of list), my twitter feed, and my Instagram (insta-distracted).

I have ADD (like, legit, not because its trendy), so I am easily distracted by all the possibilities in the world: Do I want to learn to play chess, the fiddle or read about theology, politics, the economy, or child development (I have one son and another on the way). Do I want learn markdown or French? Do I want to study weight loss or athletics? Or do I want to read more fiction and finally get through The Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, Lés Miserables, Hunchback of Notre Dame, or do I want to read more science fiction? Or, do I want to bite the bullet and put it almost all aside, so I can focus on completing my Masters?

[ I actually can’t tell you, how many times I’ve switched from the window I’m typing in, back to something else that’s open on my computer. I should probably close it. Maybe next time.]

Do I want to read and dive deep back into my old interest of theatre? Perhaps read Shakespeare? Do I want to spend more time blogging, podcasting, exercising, or …. ? Speaking of which, how many podcasts are waiting in my queue?

This isn’t the first time I’ve suffered this sort of paralyzing over analysis. Usually I get back on track, but only for a bit. The problem is, I can pick a couple of topics and say “Ok, this is what I’m going to focus on”, but I don’t get specific enough as to what that means. There are, I think a couple of things at play:

  •  I don’t set specific enough goals around these things, or see them as part of larger process.
  •  The lack of doing this means I don’t really know when I’ve been successful at doing something, or I get lost in among the trees and loose sight of the forest.

As a consequence, I am easily swayed by my mood and the new shiny interesting topic that comes my way. Unfortunately, this can leave me feeling sad and aimless. I’ve tried using a life coach a couple times, but I’m just too uncommitted to make it work; I just waist their time.

So, I’m not 100% sure what the solution to this problem is, but I have an idea. I’ll give it a go and report back. If you have any ideas on how to stay focussed through life, while getting things accomplished, leave a comment below (make sure it’s something that’s actually worked for you long term though. Not just something you’ve heard or read about, thanks 🙂