On resolutions

As the year comes to an end, there is the usual reflection, as well as the vote of thanks. The end of every year increasingly seems like an award speech, especially in this age of social media where everyone has their own platform

“I would to thank (insert name of awesome person in your life here) for making my 2013. Let’s do it again in 2014”

And so on, and so forth. There is something…cute about it. It is said that an unexamined life is not worth living, and it also appears that at no time is a life examined more than at the end of a calendar year. Some people share the lessons they learned and thank those who made an impact in their lives, while others, like me, prefer to adopt a watching brief and dwell on such matters internally.

Along with the reflections and everything else, there are also the resolutions. Lots and lots of them. Perhaps because of the difficulty of keeping resolutions, an increasing number of people prefer not to make any, and in addition, mock those who do. I see resolutions as a recognition by those who make them, that they could be better people, and that they could do certain things better. This is always a laudable aim, irrespective of whether it is reached or not.

Alain de Botton said it best:

“We might be tempted to mock the public nature of resolutions.  Why resolve things at New Year? Why tell people? Precisely for the same reason that we tend to go in for public marriage: because it can be useful to back up our own resolve with the pressure that stems from the expectation of others”.

I also think that the rush of optimism people feel at the start of the year, makes them feel anything is possible, so they make all kinds of pledges to themselves. Again, nothing at all wrong with that. At the very least, some of those who make resolutions will keep them.

In the spirit of resolutions, there is one I have been thinking about for some time. I read a post by someone who said his life changed dramatically when he wrote 1,000 words every day for one week. The post is here. It is the kind of thing that intrigues me because on some days, I feel I could easily knock out 1,000 words, but due to laziness, being busy – and Twitter – I let things evaporate 140 characters at a time.

Ah. Twitter. That most wonderful and dangerous of mediums. An enabler and a trap rolled into one. I opened my account in 2009 and tweeted very sparingly, but in 2011 I did 36,003 tweets. That is 3,000 tweets a month. Or 100 tweets a day. A day. In 2012 it came down to 31,460 tweets, a number still far too much. This year? 16, 920. 2013 has been very busy for me. In between hours and hours in traffic, the second semester of my PGD, first semester of my M.Sc and a couple of projects I played a part in, my time for Twitter dwindled. I am happy about that, but it needs to reduce even more. Even on days I don’t tweet that much, I often just watch my timeline scroll by on Tweetdeck. It takes away time from other things I could be doing. Like writing 1,000 words. Or reading one of the many books I have, but have not yet gotten to. This latter affliction is called Tsundoku by the Japanese. Funny, if you take away the ‘T’ and the first U, you get Sudoku, which is the puzzle.

In an interview with the New Yorker, Clive Thompson, the author of ‘Smarter than you think’ had this to say:

“The one complaint about the Internet that I wholeheartedly endorse is that most of these tools have been designed to peck at us like ducks: “Hey, there’s a new reply to your comment! Come look at it!” And if you don’t develop good skills of mindfulness—paying attention to your attention—it can really wind up colonizing much of your day […] The whole reason these services need to peck at us like ducks is that their business models are built on advertising, and advertising wants as many minutes of your day as possible”.

So, my aim this year is to write and read more. A lot more. And tweet a lot less. I have always admired people like Paul Krugman and Seth Godin, who manage to post every day. I would like to get to the point where I write compulsively, like the way I feel about running 10 kilometers. It will help a lot because since I am going to be a journalist/writer/etc, it makes it easier for me to come up with things. Writers block be damned.

So, I have only managed about 800 words right now, but that to me a good start. Long may it continue.


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