Over at Mastodon Jason shared this article about living a simple life. The post offers up some helpful, worthwhile suggestions about being more thoughtful in life choices in terms of the usual practice of keeping up appearances, consumption-based living, etc.
I looked at a few other posts from the site which offered similar good advice. But it is the packaging of minimalism and simple living that has become a bit of a meme on the internet. And while such sites might serve as an introduction to questioning consumerism as a way of life they often have something to sell. I wasn’t too surprised to see that, indeed, these folks offer a paid course. Even the simple life has a price. 😉
But yes, it’s increasingly obvious that our modern way of life is putting strains on our mental and physical health as well as on the ecosystems of the planet. In the developed nations the top 10% have built a way of life based on hyper consumption of resources which requires constant work and a focus on income. For many the vision of the “American Dream” is playing out as something else entirely.
We’re living in a time of persistent crises. The climate crisis serves as the background and it alone represents an existential crisis. But on top of that there are many others that surface as a result of the world we’ve built. The “simple life” and “minimalism” offer up a glimpse of something else. They hint at a calmer, quieter life with reoriented values like time spent or experiences a relationships rather than stuff. On the surface this sounds good because want to feel better, we want relief from the crises of modern life.
But let’s not just go for relief. Too often our drive is our physical and/or mental comfort and often that means a quick fix or band aid. So, let’s not just stop at the notion that our problem is too much stuff. Yes, acquisition of too much stuff is a problem but really, it’s also a symptom of a deeper cultural problem.
Let’s dig deeper.
Capitalism is the basis of modern, western nations. For decades it’s been sold as congruent with democracy, almost as though it is the other half of democratic society. It’s been assumed by many to be normal, natural and the way that economy should function. Certainly this is the commonly held view in the United States. But at the base of capitalism is insecurity, the never ending drive for increased profit through increased growth and consumption. These are fundamental, foundational to the “American Dream”.
The problem with simple living and minimalism as commonly discussed is that they serve is a temporary balm but leave us with problems. And so we just continue in long crisis. We experience it personally as perpetual longing for the unknown thing that we think will help us feel more secure, happier, content. It’s always there over the horizon. It’s to be found in documents like the US Declaration of Independence: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Happiness. Dare I say that perhaps a part of our problem is our focus on our happiness? It seems normal enough, to want to be happy and to search for what makes us happy. But happiness is ephemeral. It’s not a permanent state. And we live in a time and culture when it’s a fairly common message that what brings us happiness is the purchase of that next thing. Or, even, that next new experience. It might be a concert, movie or a trip. But no matter what we consume, the “happiness” is fleeting and within hours or days, we’re onto the next thing we want.
My suggestion is that we consider shifting our focus away from our pursuit of happiness. And don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to be happy, to experience joy. But I would suggest that we need to go deeper in our search. That it would be more helpful and meaningful to ask other questions. To begin, what is our purpose as humans. How can we contribute to the well being of not just our families but our communities? Will our life on the planet leave a it degraded or even severely degraded to the degree that future life will suffer?
I’m not going to claim to know all of the questions we should be asking or to have the answers. But, rather, that we should be asking more of ourselves than we have been.
I’d like this to be a series of posts because it’s the kind of exploration that can and should branch off into side explorations. For example, what is the result of a culture that encourages a focus on the nuclear family as many of the wealthy nations do?
Thinking living simply, there are practical considerations of how we think of exercise and physical labor in a time when many work in offices. Which is a subject can then branch off into the tools we use and how they may be measured in terms of longevity, repairability, carbon footprint, and requirements for use.
There’s a lot to explore and I’m planning follow-ups.
Hmmmm. Day two with Day One 😉
My habit is to use text editors primarily for blogging. So, now I’m thinking about how to use Day One. Probably over thinking it. I’m aware that most of my time writing is about sharing, usually via blog. This app seems geared towards private journaling for the sake of recording life moments. Right off I’m trying to bend it to blogging. And still considering whether or not I could do something like this in Notes.
It’s far too easy to get stuck in a game of app hopping. Comparing Day One to Apple Notes and I like the Day One sidebar. The grouping by day is helpful. I can edit the dates if needed. The app includes weather and other metadata that would be a nice-to-have info when looking back.
BUT, unlike Notes, I can’t view across devices. I’m not used to and don’t like the navigation via the arrow keys. I’m used to using arrow keys for moving the cursor in the text. This seems like a weird choice and there’s no setting to change it. Ugh.
Okay, so, I spent the last 30 minutes in Notes. 🤣 If I had a nickel for every time I’ve played this game. But listen Linda, Linda, Honey, I think I’ve got something. I think perhaps I can make Notes work in more ways than one…
To be continued as follow-up post on my blog at Beardy Guy Creative.
20 years of blogging
Well, it's 2023 and we've seen a nice resurgence of blogging and a new emphasis on the decentralized web in recent months. From Mastodon to micro.blog and many others, it's exciting to see so much energy. Along with all of this new energy, I've seen quite a few posts from folks who have been blogging through these past couple of decades, often reminiscing and celebrating the return to the decentralized, self-published web.
In one such post a couple of months ago, someone mentioned they had been blogging for 20 years. It occurred to me that was probably true for me as well so I visited the Wayback Machine to see if I might find my old blog. An interesting trip down memory lane seeing that old bit of my personal internet history! My first blog dates back to March 2003.
Previous to that blog I had set up my first website in 1997. Liberated Existence was not technically a blog but I posted weekly updates to a news section. Some were updates about our various local projects, others were news happenings of interest to leftist activists. The main site included a little network of sub-sites that served different purposes and projects. A sampling of our various projects included a micro-radio station, Food Not Bombs, and a Memphis branch of the IWW. Most days from 1997 to 2003 included some sort of update to Liberated Existence or one of the sub-sites.
I have so many fond memories of time spent learning html and then css. From the technical aspects of building and maintaining a website to the excitement of publishing online. As an activist who had been publishing zines, newsletters and several small community newspaper projects along side of a micro radio station that was shut down twice, the potential of the early, decentralized internet was inspiring. It felt like we were building something together. I'm glad to see the excitement again.
This time around I'm hoping that there is a new awareness of what happens when people give up control of their publishing to corporations. We've got 15+ years of Facebook and Twitter as an example of what not to do going forward. We can't know where this new-old path will lead but it seems better. And I hope we'll protect it better than we did before.
I started writing yet another post about iPad and the Apple pundits' hot takes. That post has now turned into two posts one of which is comparing today’s Apple-oriented online culture to the late 90s and early 2000’s. And now a third post writing about the other two posts. 🤣🤓
A couple months ago I decided to try out a couple of iPad accessories from Moft. They have a series of products that are designed to work well together, the Snap System. I bought the Snap Case and the Snap Float Stand. The various items can be purchased separately or in bundles. Their website is a little confusing when trying to create bundles.
Of the various iPad accessories I’ve tried over the years I think this pair is my favorite. While I spend some time at a desk I’m often on a futon/beanbag and this combination works great in both places. In both situations it works well to be propped up at various angles in the horizontal or portrait positions. The float stand is also a kickstand that can be used in so many different orientations that it is basically without limit. And it’s very stable on a pillow in my lap.
Fairly typical configurations over the course of a day: iPad propped up in horizontal position, Pencil attached at bottom
I find that with this case and stand I’ve been using the iPad as a tablet far more because I like having it propped up but without a keyboard in the way. If I want a keyboard I can just reach over and grab it. If I want a keyboard/trackpad I can attach it to the Magic Keyboard which is also nearby.
Because the stand and case are magnetic the stand pulls away easily. I did find that the embedded magnets in the Snap Case were not as strong as I wanted them and I was getting accidental detachments when readjusting the stand angles. Moft includes an extra sticky metal plate with the stand so I attached that to the case as it provides a much stronger connection that never comes off accidentally.
The Snap Case is really thin and Apple’s Magic Keyboard attaches just fine to the Snap Case and closes too though it bulges a bit with the added thickness. That said, because the case is so thin it’s not going to provide much protection in a fall though it does provide a bit protection in terms of daily wear along the edges and back-side.
Two last notes. First, the case also has a convenient spot for the Pencil. If you have a Pencil and like keeping it close by this is a nice addition. It also serves as an extra place to hold the iPad. Second, while the case provides access to the 3 buttons on the outer edges of the iPad it makes it fairly difficult to actually press those buttons.
A lot has been said in recent days and weeks about iPadOS 16 Stage Manager currently being used by beta testers. Some folks are finding it very buggy or just having difficulty with the design of the new feature. It’s far from perfect, no doubt about that. I’ve been bouncing back-and-forth between using the feature and then turning it off to go back to the default split screen multitasking. There’s much to like about Stage Manager￼ and for the most part I’m enjoying it. If not for the buggy resprings I would likely leave it on.
I found that for myself, it seems to work best with the dock, turned off, and the side multitasking strip also turned off. Even the larger 13 inch iPad is still a relatively small screen so by turning those off I’m getting a bit more room for window content. I think the greatest potential for this new feature is probably with the 13 inch screens or something larger that might come in the future. Also it’s great on an external monitor which I use a couple hours a day.
My favorite use thus far is 3 windows side by side taking up the full screen. Two groupings in particular: Spring for Twitter, Twidere X open to Mastodon, and Gluon for Micro.blog. Another 3 windows set-up is Mail, Slack and Messages. In general I like the width of 3 windows side-by side on the 13" iPad Pro.
What would I like to see changed? Like many have commented on, when changing window sizes pre-determined window sizes are chosen for the user rather than fluid free form window sizing, and that can get to be a bit tiresome instead of being helpful. In my use it requires me to do more work than I should have to rather than less. Personally my preference would be to have free form window sizing but with a grid like snap to feature ￼ similar to that found on ￼ Windows. I would imagine half screen, quarter screen, and 1/3 screen, those sorts of size options. There are similar third-party apps available for the Mac that seem to be popular.￼
Also, when switching apps sometimes things can get a bit confusing, especially when using an external display.