Disconnect. Then, reconnect.

Hi social media –

In late 2017, you were like a broken router. All of the messages that I received from you were garbled and distracting. I tried so hard to quit you. And on January 1st, 2018, I unplugged you.

It wasn’t easy and I struggled a lot. You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything. I’ve also turned off all of your dopamine inducing notifications. To my friends and you, this may have made me appear a bit more oblivious.

I’m sorry. I just needed some space.

“FRIEND and 13 others have recently tweeted. Tap to see.”

“FRIEND has posted a new photo. Tap to see it.”

Damn it. You kept updating me on what is going on. It made it so hard to focus. It made it hard to be 100% present.

There have been times where I have been intently staring at my phone when amazing people are right there sitting in front of me. How have I let this shiny blue screen capture so much of my attention?

Only when I was brave enough to press the power button and the screen faded to black, did the people from behind the shiny blue screen emerge.

I was back. We were back. We talked, we shared ideas, we cracked jokes, and we laughed together. This glowing portal to the internet that I carry in my pocket is a tool, not a substitute for the people around me.

I’ve found myself 10 times happier in the past month and change.

I recently celebrated Chinese New Year with my family and my phone remained in my pocket (on airplane mode) during all our meals. It’s been a while since I have felt this relaxed; it’s been a while since I have felt this connected; it’s been a while since I have laughed this hard.

My goal for 2018 is to be more present. And by unplugging social media, I learned something important: it requires a lot of discipline to be present.

So I’m trying my hardest to change an old, bad habit. No more shiny blue screens when I’m surrounded by great people. I’m still human, so help me by holding me accountable.

And as I say this, I’m plugging back in my router. The lights are starting to blink. I’m back!

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

Yes, that’s the default first post by WordPress. I’m going to keep it here as an homage to how great projects start… with a simple “Hello world!”

After evaluating a variety of different publishing platforms, I finally settled on the familiar. I used to do a lot of my writing on Medium, which you can still see, but I think that it is time to migrate to a new system.

There are a lot of pros and cons to having your own site like creating my own WordPress theme — and yes, this was hand-coded by yours truly. Two main considerations went into this process:

  • SEO & Control
  • WTF are “Claps”

SEO & Control

There’s not that much that you can do with Medium. It’s great as a way to start writing for someone who doesn’t know either how to code or how PageRank works. Don’t get me wrong; Medium does have two great things going for it: Ease of use (getting started takes about 2 minutes), and distribution (there’s a built-in audience that’s engaged).

But I can code. And I love numbers and data. And I want to customize the hell out of my writing platform. And since I’m planning on dedicating a lot of time to writing over the coming years, it is time to level up and host my own content.

Rand Fishkin from Moz has a detailed breakdown of why you should host your own content.

 

Claps

Maybe I’m a purist, but I loved hearts. One heart, one person. It was a simple concept just like one vote, one person.

On August 10th, 2017, Medium introduced Claps. Maybe this was a way for them to create a metric to adequately pay customers or maybe this was a way to increase overall engagement or maybe this was a way to provide grade inflation on individual posts. A single person can give an article a maximum of 50 claps, by holding down the mouse for 25 seconds over the clap button.

Regardless, I didn’t particularly like it. Even the conversion was wonky. Old articles with 100 hearts by 100 people were now equal to articles with 100 claps by two people. It wasn’t just me, but a lot of folks have routinely criticized this new clapping paradigm.

I don’t want to write for the claps. I want to write for my audience—to give them information that they would find interesting and compelling. I want to write for myself—so I can practice and be a better writer.