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Nearly a Week With Less Facebook [en]

Nearly a Week With Less Facebook [en]

[fr] Il y a près d'une semaine, sur une impulsion, j'ai supprimé de mon téléphone l'application Facebook: c'était en effet principalement sur mon téléphone que je me retrouvais à consulter mon fil d'actus de façon un peu frénétique, compulsive. Et ces temps, les nouvelles du monde qui ont envahi "mon" Facebook commençaient à me peser. Le fait d'avoir cette icône bleue sur l'écran de mon téléphone à chaque fois que je l'ouvrais pour faire quoi que ce soit ne m'aidait pas à prendre de la distance. Du coup, j'ai l'application Groupes, Pages, et Messenger -- mais pour Facebook tout court je vais sur l'ordi ou l'iPad, ou dans le navigateur sur mon téléphone (c'est moins "agréable" mais ça marche). Et bien sûr, je peux toujours réinstaller l'application! Mais pour le moment, j'apprécie le retour au calme que cette modification de mon environnement numérique m'apporte.

fullsizeoutput_5386The morning after I wrote my last post about being exposed to too much news, I decided to try removing the Facebook app from my phone. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, prompted by a few death announcements in my social circle on top to all the difficult world news we’re dealing with nowadays.

The fact that I get “caught up” in Facebook, compulsively cycling through my newsfeed and notifications, has been bothering me for a while. Time flies by and I’m still on Facebook.

Where this happens most is on my phone, particularly because I can carry it around all over the place the easiest. I will stand up and leave the computer. I will leave the iPad lying around somewhere. But the phone is always with me.

And the Facebook app is there, on my home screen, staring at me each time I turn on my phone for anything. And I get lost inside.

As you know if you’ve been following me for some time, I’m super interested in stuff like procrastination, change, habits. And I probably have already mentioned an idea I found clearly expressed on James Clear’s blog: environment is key in shaping our habits. If I think about my “Facebook habit”, clearly the fact that this app is so prominently displayed on my screen is encouraging it.

I remember one step of Note to Self’s “Bored and Brilliant” challenge was to delete your favorite app from your phone for a day. I didn’t like the idea. I preferred to think that I could have the discipline not to check my phone compulsively. And I can. But the problem is when I go to my phone for something else, and end up on Facebook instead — or afterwards.

Anyway. I decided to remove the app for the day, to give myself some space away from all the news. I can still check Facebook on my iPad or computer — or even in the browser — but it’s not staring at me each time I pick up my phone anymore.

Quite fast, I replaced it with the Facebook Groups app. I love Facebook Groups and am active in quite a few of them. They are not saturated with world news or people dying. They are not as active as my newsfeed, and therefore don’t lead to as much compulsive reloading. I also unearthed the Pages app so I could post to my pages. And I use Messenger, of course.

I realised that doing this gave me a breather. So I didn’t reinstall the app the next day. Or the next. It’s been nearly a week now, and I might keep things like this. I’ve been through the browser interface a few times, but it’s less seamless than the app, and so you don’t get “sucked in” as much.

Let me make it clear: this is absolutely not about “quitting Facebook” or anything like that. It is about “less compulsion”. About helping myself spend my time with more decision, less automation. It’s funny, I never thought I would do this. Had you asked me 10 days ago I would have said it was a silly idea. Or that I didn’t want to “cut the cord” like that. And I might roll this change back. But just now, I’m finding that being able to take a few steps back from my “TV 2.0” is really helpful.

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First Steps in Second Life [en]

First Steps in Second Life [en]

[fr] Mes premiers pas dans l'environnement Second Life. En trois sessions (hier soir, ce matin, et ce soir) j'ai tout de même réussi à changer d'habits et de coupe de cheveux. Je trouve l'apprentissage difficile. Ce n'est pas habituel pour moi de me sentir maladroite et submergée d'informations devant un ordinateur!

A few months ago, I signed up for Second Life. I spent one evening going through the “training” island, and then didn’t go back until yesterday (Second Life won’t run on my windows box).

Well, people, I’m finding it really hard. I’m not used to finding myself in an environment I have trouble using and which is confusing to me. Here’s the story of what I’ve been through and understood (or not) — with pictures, so that you can get an idea what’s going on in there if you’re not familiar with Second Life. I’m Stephanie Spicoli in Second Life — do get in touch in-world if you have an account.

One thing I’ve pretty much figured out is how to use the arrows to walk around. Sounds silly, heh? At first, I kept running into things. Now I’m getting used to turn left/right, and backwards/forwards.

Yesterday evening, I spent some time in the welcome zone — lots of weirdos there. A kind person helped me out a bit by giving me things and showing me some place I could go to which were nice.

Put this way, it sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. What happened is I started having all sorts of little pop-ups appearing on my screen. I didn’t know for the life of me what to do with them. First I clicked “Discard” on all of them because I didn’t know what they were. Then I had to ask her to give them to me again, and vaguely understood I had to keep them in my Inventory (that’s where you store things in Second Life, kind of like a big handbag). But I couldn’t figure out how to put them in there. Actually, I just had to close the pop-up windows, they were already in my inventory. Gosh. Thank goodness chatting is pretty similar (albeit somewhat laggy when it comes to typing feedback) and I’m at least familiar with that part.

Very confusing I then teleported to New Citizens Incorporated, a place which gives classes and has lots of free stuff for newcomers. You can see the shops on this photograph. I went into one of the shops, and the shelves were absolutely packed with all sorts of stuff which didn’t make much sense to me. Well, one type of item I understood was “clothes”. I wasn’t really interested in clothes at first, until I saw another person wearing exactly the same outfit as I was! I was still wearing the default outfit they give you in the training zone.

That set me off on my first mission: try to get some new clothes. Not as easy as it sounds. I managed to get a box or two of female clothes off a shelf (Cmd-click on the box, and choose buy). Of course, I tried to wear the clothes directly and ended up with a box on my head. Then I understood I had to go in my inventory, drag the box out of it so it was on the floor, Cmd-click on it, choose open, then go back into my inventory, look at what items of clothing were in there, Cmd-click the ones I wanted to wear and choose “wear” from the menu. Sounds like a lot of trouble just to change clothes, doesn’t it? Well, it was. It probably took me an hour. Needless to say that in the process I ended up in my underwear — though hopefully I managed to avoid being stark naked in the middle of NCI Plaza.

Classes you can take at New Citizens

At that point I was ready to try to do something with my hair. Somebody told me there were classes organized for new Second Life citizens, so I went to have a look at the program. Unfortunately there was no class named “dye your hair pink in less than 30 minutes”, so I postponed that piece of fun to the next session.

Instead, I played around a bit with the camera controls (I desperately wanted to see what my face looked like) and tried to take a snapshot or two. Managed to zoom out! Well, I still have a lot of learning to do. Zoom in and out works now that I’ve understood I can use the MacBook trackpad scrolling technique (go up or down the trackpad with two fingers, and it scrolls/zooms). As for detaching the camera from right behind my avatar and moving it around and up and down… well, sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t. It’s a bit hit-and-miss — again, not something I’m used to on a computer. I’m aware that for many people, normal computer use is just as confusing as Second Life is for me now. It’s an interesting experience for me.

As I’m writing this, I’m trying to remember when I did what. I’ve been on Second Life three times (last night, this morning, tonight). I’m honestly not certain which part of the story I’m telling you was last night, and which part was this morning. My memories are a bit confused and jumbled up.

Right, I went to look at the time I took the various screenshots I have: this morning, I chatted quite a bit with a bunch of people who were trying to build a Griefball.

Meet the Griefball!

A Griefball? Well, as one put it, mainly a statement — but the idea was also that this ball would then be programmed to get rid of griefers. Griefers are the Second Life equivalent to trolls. We had one this morning, by the way: he was dancing all over the place and making noises and stuff. Pretty irritating. I “muted” him (the equivalent of “ignore”) and then I think somebody else filed an abuse report on him. How do you mute somebody? Not too hard: Cmd-click on that person’s avatar, and click “Mute” in the menu that appears.

This morning, I also decided to do something about my hair. After a few random clicks in my inventory (I saw I had different kinds of hair in there) I finally landed in the hair style editing menu. Holy cow! There are **tons** of settings. You can literally spend *hours* doing your hair in Second Life.

Spend hours doing your hair

I also managed to make it pink (my initial goal). The magic slider for that is “rainbow colour” (don’t ask).

Tonight, I:

– grew a pink tiger-tail (not quite true, somebody gave it to me)
– swapped my red shirt (arghl, not nice with pink hair) for a green one (which I modified myself!)
– went for a stroll in the park by sunset
– got stuck in a mountain (no photos of that, I was too busy trying to get out).

Want pictures? Clicky below:

Stephanie Spicoli New green shirt Sunset

Overall, for the moment, I’ve met quite a few nice helpful people. What makes Second Life exciting is also what makes it really difficult to get into: it’s complex. I’m spending a lot of time learning stuff which isn’t really that interesting in itself for me (I have no ambition to become a digital hairstylist) but which is needed for what’s coming next. Feeling comfortable with your inventory, moving the camera about, doing things with objects… there are all basic skills and I’m not comfortable with them yet. But if you want a world where people can be digital artists, build businesses, organise live music performances or conferences, you need that level of complexity to allow users to be creative.

As one of the people who helped me out this morning said: “there’s not a lot of hand-holding”. Inside Second Life, of course, there are classes and coaching, but in my opinion the interface is complicated enough that it’ll get in the way from getting help in-world for many people.

I’m certain there is (will soon be) a market for introduction classes to Second Life… in First Life.

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