I am neither a Luddite nor an early adopter when it comes to technology. I think there’s plenty to be leery of in terms of cost (in both time and money), but I sincerely appreciate devices, sites, and apps that make my life easier or provide quality entertainment. Neither David nor I are what anyone would consider “tech-y,” so we mostly benefit from the wisdom of friends (looking at you, Randy Lucas and Jeremy Davidson) and even students when it comes to technological trends.
That being said, in this post I want to share three “digital discoveries” I happened upon and two “digital decisions” I’ve made over the course of 2017.
Discovery #1: Spotify’s Discover Weekly I’ve heard it said that most people stop listening to new music at around 30, which has actually been somewhat true for me. I guess that shift coincided with moving away from Chicago and beginning a career that doesn’t allow for much music listening throughout the day. I dearly miss XRT, how it exposed me to so much excellent music, both old and new. We’ve had Spotify since we moved over here about five years ago, but I’ve never really taken full advantage. It’s just so vast, and who has time to navigate all that content? Enter Discover Weekly. I happened upon an article that finally brought my attention to this delightful feature a couple months ago. Who doesn’t want a new playlist perfectly curated for them each week? I mean, especially in light of these rave reviews:
It’s scary how well @Spotify Discover Weekly playlists know me. Like former-lover-who-lived-through-a-near-death experience-with-me well.
— Dave Horwitz (@Dave_Horwitz) October 27, 2015
At this point @Spotify‘s discover weekly knows me so well that if it proposed I’d say yes
— Amanda Whitbred (@amandawhitbred) August 18, 2016
Discovery #2: The Potential for Being an Insta-Story Creeper … : / I have not yet (and likely never will) jumped on the Snapchat train. I am just not a cat/princess/whatever-other-face-filters-are-out-there kind of person, but hey, that’s just me. Neither have I yet (and likely never will) created Snapchat-esque “stories” on Instagram. I do love sharing photos on Instagram and Facebook, but the disappearing stories about how you went to the dentist that day don’t really appeal to me. I sometimes watch other people’s Insta-stories and am usually (but not always) a little underwhelmed. Not having created a story myself, I didn’t totally understand how they worked. There’s no like button, so how am I supposed to show someone I watched their story and actually liked it? There’s a message function, but that just seems like a lot of work. Give me a like button any day. Discovery moment: SNL Scrudge skit in which a Scrooge-like character tells another character he knows a woman’s been watching his Insta-stories. What?! People can see when you’ve watched those things?? Lesson learned: do not hit “Watch All” unless you want your former student creeped out by the fact that his 9th grade English teacher is watching videos of his cat …
Discovery #3: Facebook “Add to Collection” Function I have 4881 articles saved on Facebook. (Still working on minimalism breaking into my digital world …) I follow a lot of blogs, news organizations, and groups relating to my interests, so often things come across my feed that I’d love to bookmark for later. Once my saved list became so massive, however, it was apparent that I would never get to everything, especially with it all lumped together. The other day I found a new (at least to me) feature that allows you to categorize all your saved items into collections. I’ve started the arduous process of both weeding out now unwanted saves as well as moving the things I still want to read into helpful collections. Yay.
Decision #1: Time Wasting Accountability The summer before we got married, David and I were both job hunting in Texas but a state apart as I was in Oklahoma for a summer internship. He would drive up to visit me and we would mostly play games together because we were both jobless and had no money. I don’t know how many hours of Dominion we played that summer, but I would be slightly embarrassed if I did. Before we moved to Indonesia, we bought every version available and carried the cards over here in baseball card containers to cut down on the bulk of the original boxes. We don’t actually play a whole lot over here due to the inconvenience of setting up games. However, over the past year or so I began playing online. We never paid for access to the expanded card sets, but you could play against people who had. Sometime this last fall I realized how addicted I had become to this stupid online game. I would come home in the afternoons, put Clementine down for a nap, and play mindlessly sometimes until David got home. I would stop playing for a weekend or a week, but I didn’t like the draw the game had over me, and I especially didn’t like how it was wasting my time. There is definitely a place for down time and relaxing, but this was quickly becoming more than that. I decided that I wanted to cut it out indefinitely, and the only way to commit to that and stick with it was to tell someone. I texted a friend to say that I was quitting and that I was only ever allowed to play again if after a face to face conversation with her, we both agreed that it wouldn’t be a detrimental distraction to the life I’m meant to be living. That was over two months ago, and it has been such a welcomed change.
Decision #2: Taking Facebook off My Phone & Tablet A few months back I also made the decision to take the Facebook app off my phone and iPad with the intent of only accessing it on the computer. Why did I not do this sooner?? There are several things I appreciate about Facebook, namely that it allows me to stay somewhat connected with friends twelve timezones away and also that it connects me to news and ideas that I would otherwise have to be much more proactive in gathering. I actually prefer Facebook to Twitter in that I can see the photo attached to an article and read the first few lines sans character limit. All that being said, Facebook is also a huge time waster. When I had the app on my devices, I caught myself mindlessly scrolling, sometimes for embarrassing amounts of time. Whereas I really needed (and continue to need) a total Dominion detox, limiting Facebook to our jointly shared computer vastly reduces the amount of time I spend on it. Sure, I may miss some of my friends’ posts, but when it comes to significant milestones and events, they usually let me know in other ways.
Now I’m curious to know your digital discoveries and decisions in 2017! Is there a life-changing app that you now can’t live without? Flipboard and Pocket have served me well in place of Facebook in many ways. How has technology benefited or burdened your life this year?