Quit Reddit

Today I’m starting an experiment for one month.  I’m quitting reddit. I’m interested to see how this will affect my life.  Ideally I’ll be able to come back to reddit occasionally without becoming a horrible addict again.   I’ve been addicted to reddit for over 4 years and it’s seriously affecting my life.

This is hard for me because on one hand, I’ve learned a great deal of useful things from spending my time on reddit.

On the other hand, I waste a lot of time on reddit.

It’s affected my work.  I get my work done, but I’ve found that work has become something I do to fill the void between redditing.  It should definitely be the other way around.  I also don’t look for new things to do or learn at work.  Instead of learning about my job, I go learn about something odd and most likely unimportant from reddit.

I’ve been redditing for the majority of my career and am wondering if it is why I’m going nowhere.  I just don’t try very hard because there is nothing about my job that is as exciting as what could possibly be going on in reddit.

Sure I’ll still spend time at work doing non-work related things, but I only have a few RSS feeds in my google reader and I can’t access facebook.

Besides work it’s affected my hobbies and other leisure time.  I like writing, but find that I sit down to write and open up a window with reddit.  I’m currently working on two books, but I constantly stall because I just have to quickly check out reddit.

Whenever I have some down time, I tend to pull out my phone and surf reddit.  This is getting to be a bad habit as I find myself surfing reddit more often than usual.  Especially in the bathroom and sitting on the couch at home.

It’s also affected my relationships.  I don’t really have many friends in real life anymore.  I just don’t make an effort to meet people or make time to spend time with my friends.  I think this is because I get the feeling of talking to people every day by coming on here and joining in discussions.

I find that I have trouble conversing with my girlfriend and the friends I do have because I feel like they can’t relate to my “reddit” self that I use to communicate on reddit.  It’s not that I feel like they are two different people, it’s that I feel like the “real” me is talking on reddit, while it’s just a fake me in real life.  It’s like when you are a kid and you feel that the “real” you is the you that hangs out with your friends at school, but the fake one is the face you put on for your parents and authority figures.  It’s a small difference, but it’s definitely there.

Sometimes I find myself thinking of things or talking to people and telling myself that I should post it on reddit.  This is kind of scary.  I already spend too much time thinking about other things while talking to people, I don’t need to add another.

I’ve learned a lot here, but I haven’t gotten any smarter.  It seems like there are million tips and ideas here, but not enough information to actually grow.  I think this is because everything is just a short read and then you’re on to the next thing.  It’s hard to keep enough of an attention span to really learn anything.

I know, this will be hard.  I know it’s not for everybody.  It might not even be for me.  I don’t want to give up reddit forever, but I need to do this experiment to prove that I can get by with out it.

I’m going to be keeping a journal and documenting what happens through this process.

I’m hoping to do some of the following:

Get more work done

Find new projects to work on

Write more

Work on my friendships

Work on my relationship

Learn something new

Talk to more people

Be happier

If it works, great.  If it doesn’t, oh well.  It’s just a month.

I’ll be back in a month to talk about my results.  And we’ll see if I want to come back or quit for good.

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Backpacking

Tomorrow, my girlfriend and I are going to a hike in campsite for the first time!  We do plenty of car camping, but this will be more rustic.  I’m looking forward to it.

It will be great to get away for a couple of nights and enjoy the outdoors.  Plus it will be interesting to carry everything we need on our backs.  Usually when we go car camping, we have a big tent, big cooler, grill, extra blankets, chairs, and plenty of other stuff along with us.  This is fun, but will be nice to see how a minimalist trip turns out.

We were able to find most of our gear used on craigslist so we managed to save a ton of money.  Plus this way, if we hate it, we won’t be out much and can probably resell everything for about the same price.

Here is my super cool camping list:

Backpacks

Sleeping bags

Tent

Water filter

Camp stove

Fuel

Cooking gear

Pot/pan

Plates

Forks – plastic

Knives – plastic

Sleeping pads

2 flashlights

Head lamp

Water bottles

Small cooler

Day pack

Trash bags

Compass

Freezer bags

Rope/cord

Shovel

TP

Paper towels

Small towel

Knife

Watch

Lighter

Matches

Fire starter

Bug spray

Coffee cups

Duct Tape

Safety Pins

String

Bear Spray

Camera

Antibacterial

Chap Stick

Clothes to wear

Hiking pants

Dry fit shirt

Wool Socks

Underarmor boxers

Longsleeve dry shirt

Fleece

Rain jacket

Thermal bottoms

Thermal top

Boots

Hat

Gloves

Sunglasses

Food

4 steaks (two will stay in cooler in car)

6 potatoes

2 pounds green beans

6 eggs

10 strips bacon

Beef jerky

Almonds, walnuts, raisins, bananas

2 oranges

2 apples

Chocolate

Graham crackers

Marshmellows

Wine

1 pound cheese

Coffee – Starbucks VIA

Water

Gatorade

Beer/Pop in the car

First Aid

Bandaids

Guaze

Neosporin

Tums

Immodium

Excedrine

Moleskin

Probably too much stuff, but good for a first time out.  Have a good weekend.

Experience

When I was in high school I had an English teacher that was a little bit off.  We all joked that he was crazy, but really he had just done a lot of drugs and had some weird experiences when he was younger.  The majority of his classes would end with him rambling on about how he almost killed a guy while on acid.

One of the lectures that has stuck with me since then was about how we experience things.  He tried to start a controversial debate by saying that he had no idea that the Earth was round because he had never seen it from far enough away to know.  He said that just because someone else took a picture and made the measurements to see that the Earth was round, he didn’t fully believe it because he would have to take someone else’s word for it.

He went into a few other examples like how he didn’t even know if the sky was blue because he couldn’t see it right then.

This of course started a bit of argument with the students because we all knew that of course the Earth was round and the sky was blue.  As high school students, most of us didn’t get the point that we shouldn’t base everything we know about something someone else tells.  He really just wanted to get it through our heads that if we really wanted to understand something, we needed to experience it for ourselves.

Now almost ten years later I think I’m really starting to understand what he was talking about.  I’ve realized that I spend a pretty big chunk of my life on reddit and reading blogs and other things on the internet.  I’ve learned so much from doing that.  There are so many things that I feel like I have a complete understanding on, but really I’ve just read about someone else who has done them.

I’m starting to think this is a bad thing.  I’m realizing that I’m not experiencing much any more.  Most of the time I’m just experiencing text on a page telling me about something.  I’m not going to say it’s not interesting though.  I’ve learned a ton from everything I’ve read, but I’m definitely not an expert on anything.

For example, I read an AMA about a guy who hiked the Appalachian Trail a while back.  From that, I feel like I have a pretty good idea what it would be like to hike the Appalachian trail.  I know what gear to get, what kind of food to eat, even how it feels to sit alone in the dark and hear animals outside of your tent.  But I haven’t experienced it.  I’ve realized that I really have no idea what it would be like.

I’m starting to think that this is a big problem in my life and probably in a lot of other people’s lives.  What will happen to us when we’ve learned everything there is to know, but haven’t experienced anything because it’s all been on a computer, the television, or a book?  Does knowledge make up for lack of experience?

Is it even healthy to do this?

Imagine what it would be like to have to learn everything in life on your own without a users manual or an AMA or a blog about it.  Imagine what it would be like to only live in the moment and not be thinking about anything else.

I know this isn’t possible and I know that there are tons of things to be learned from others.  Hey, look at me, I lost a bunch of weight because I went online and read about the paleo diet.

It’s definitely something weird to think about though.  Tonight, when you are doing whatever it is you’re doing, realize that this is the first and last time that you will be experiencing that specific situation and you are the only person doing it right there and right then.

Go Camping

I went camping last weekend.  I like going on a fall camping trip or two because the weather is usually perfect at that time of year in Minnesota.  The leaves have changed too, so everything is very pretty.  The temperature was actually very warm for this time of year.

We went up to a spot along the St. Croix River.  We got there some time around one in the afternoon.  Luckily our camp site was unoccupied already, so we set up the tent.  Then we went for a hike on one of the “more advanced” trails.  It was pretty easy though.

The only weird thing was that it was also a horse trail, so the ground was very sandy and loose.  The horses must tear it up with their hooves.  There were leaves all over.  This made our walk pretty noisy as we had to trample through them the whole way.  There was no way we were seeing any wild life on that walk.

When we got back we hung out for awhile.  It was the perfect afternoon.  I didn’t even have to wear long sleeves.

While we were sitting there, two deer came walking by our camp site.  Luckily we were on the very end of the camping area.  There was no one else around to scare them away.  They just slowly wandered through the trees, probably looking for something to eat.

It was amazing to see how well camouflaged they were.  As soon as they stopped moving, I lost track of them.  At one point, I made a noise and the deer stared me down for a good five minutes before it started to move again.  It was tense, but I stayed still, so it kept on moving without getting scared.

We had brats and potato salad for dinner.  The food was good, but the brats got a bit burned because they were still frozen in the center.

We played a quick game of Scrabble after dinner, but that got interrupted by a short rainstorm.  Of course the rain stopped as soon as we put the game away.  We were tied at the time so we called it a draw.

The rest of the night was spent watching the campfire and finishing off some wine.  It was very relaxing.  The next morning, we had some greasy eggs and bacon and hot coffee before a short walk down by the river.  The whole trip was short, but extremely relaxing.

You might be wondering what this has to do with working in an office.  It doesn’t really, but I think we all need to get out and enjoy a bit of nature to feel better about the constant life of computers and cubicles.  This weekend was really easy.  All we needed was a tent, sleeping bags, some food and wine.

We’re not into anything too intense; we just were at a drive in camp site in one of the state parks.  These weekends are nice too because they’re pretty cheap.  The site costs maybe twenty dollars.  After food and firewood, we probably spent fifty.

Sometimes we all need to slow down a bit and enjoy some nature.  The best thing about this trip was the fact that we didn’t have a television or computer hogging our attention the whole time.

Oh and I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  Work has been busy and I’ve been suffering from a bit of writers block.

Helping others

I’ve realized that I really enjoy helping people.  I think this may be one of the main reasons that I get frustrated working an office job.  I don’t have customers or clients or even other employees that I have to interact with on a regular basis.  Sure, I can talk with my co-workers and my boss, but I don’t really need to.  At least not more than once or twice a day.

Some of my favorite jobs have been in customer service.  It’s unfortunate that they didn’t pay much more than minimum wage though.  When I was in high school I worked at a sandwich shop.  The most fun part of that job was talking with the customers and seeing them satisfied with their food.  I miss this since I’ve been working in the office.

I know this isn’t totally something that applies to office work.  I know there are lots of jobs out there where you can work in an office and still help people.  My old job had me working with a lot of people inside and outside of the company.  It was definitely nice to get a phone call about something and be able to help them solve their problems.

I think this need to help others is an important aspect of any life.  I’ve had many agree with me on this.  Many people even think this may be the one thing in life that makes them the most happy.  Why else would so many people volunteer their time to help others?

I’m not really sure why this is though.  I’m mostly a believer that there are really no selfless acts.  We all live in our own worlds and tend to only do things that benefit ourselves.  They may benefit others, but everything we do is really for our own reasons.  We may say that we really care about other people, but I think helping people really is just about making yourself feel good.

I’m not saying that we’re all jerks and consciously think about this.  I think this is all on some subconscious level.  I think the reason we even care about others in the first place is because it makes us feel good.  It feels nice to help people and if it didn’t, we probably would help them.

If there is something as inherent in our nature as helping others, why do so many of us work jobs that don’t really help anyone?  Maybe this is why there are so many people who volunteer in their non-working hours.  It’s hard because I know that I’m technically helping my company to succeed which helps its end customers, but by not being in touch with those customers, I feel like I’m missing out on something.

Maybe I just need to find something that focuses more helping others.  Maybe I need to volunteer outside of work.  What you do think?  I know there is something to this; it definitely feels good to help people.

Just Smile

Do you ever notice how after you have a good conversation with someone you walk away with a smile on your face?  Then you’re still smiling and you run into someone else you know.  It seems like the energy and fun of the prior conversation just keeps going for the new conversation.

Sometimes this will happen to me two or three times on a good day.  I can keep running into people and by the end of the day I’m in a really good mood.  The bad thing is that there are a lot of days where these conversations never happen.  If I don’t get the first good smile going, it’s hard to be excited to talk to others throughout the day.

So I’m going to try an experiment.  I’m going to fake it.  I’m going to keep a slight smile on my face as if I just got done having the best conversation with my best friend.  This way I’ll be in a good mood every time I run into somebody and maybe even start up a good conversation.

I’ve been doing this today and have really noticed a difference.  Even total strangers that I walk by have been making eye contact and smiling a bit.  It’s weird.  You can almost change your whole mood and the mood of others just by smiling a bit.

Sure I might be faking it at first, but after talking or just saying hi to a few people throughout the day I feel a lot happier.  That’s definitely not fake.  The good conversations aren’t fake either.

It’s almost as if when you pretend to be in a good mood, you end up in a good mood.

This definitely helps my morale while sitting in the office all day.  I’d rather smile and be happy than sit around grumpy all day.

Get out of bed

This morning I tried something new.  I got out of bed when I woke up.  It was awesome.

For the longest time, I’ve always woken up somewhere between 4-6 a.m.  If it’s closer to 4 I’m usually able to fall back to sleep and get a couple more hours in before my alarm goes off at 7.  But if it’s closer to 6, I usually fall back to sleep around 6:30 and then am really groggy when my alarm goes off at 7.

This has been really annoying.  I’m wide awake when I wake up naturally, but am too lazy to get up and do anything.  I just lie there until I doze off just in time for my alarm to go off.  I’m so exhausted after that and generally feel like garbage all day.

Today was different though.  I woke up around 5:30 and decided to stay up.  I did some stretching, made some coffee, and checked my emails.  It was really weird having an extra hour and a half this morning.  The best part is that I’ve been wide awake all day.  I don’t feel drowsy at all.

I’m sure it’ll catch up with me tonight and maybe I’ll hit the sack earlier, but this is great so far.

Apparently, we sleep in cycles of about 90 minutes.  If we wake up after those 90 minutes we usually feel pretty good and well rested.  If the cycle is interrupted, we don’t feel so great because we still want to sleep for the rest of the 90 minute cycle.

I’m going to keep trying this for the rest of the week and see how it goes.  I might even go out and watch the sunrise tomorrow.  I’m definitely not a morning person, but this might just change my perspective.
What do you think?  Anybody else do this?