I’ve been progressively trying to detach myself from social media and am finally calling it quits on the last network I checked with any sort of regularity: Twitter. I just don’t think anything good comes from scrolling through an endless feed of bad news, echo chambers, and bottom-of-the-barrel hot takes. Or worse, doomscrolling– which is a phenomenal term. It just feels like you’re binging on the brain-equivilent of doritos. I’ll still keep my account around to syndicate content, but this is done automatically at this point so I don’t actually need to log in (and subsequently be tempted to start scrolling).
Instead I’ve been subscribing to interesting content via RSS (using Feedly). I find this to be much less stressful, as there’s a finality to the feed of content that doesn’t exist on social media platforms. Once you’ve browsed through all of the new items in your feeds, you’re done. There’s nothing more to look at.
If you’re a hacker news user, I’d also recommend replacing the front page with one of the feeds at hnrss. I’ve subscribed to one that surfaces any post with >200 points, filtering out a lot of the noise that would previously consume my time. 1Blocker on iOS or Impulse Blocker on Firefox are also a huge help in ensuring you’re not subconsciencely navigating to social media websites to take a hit of content dopamine.
If you have any other tips/strategies for taming the internet, drop me a line.
I love the momentum that seems to be forming around taking space away from cars in New York. This Times article gives me hope that there is, in fact, a future where the car is no longer the king of the streets in this city.
Even now, with decreased traffic from the virus walking around the city is a joy. You can hear birds chirping and waves quietly lapping against the shore on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Signs of nature and life that you would never expect to hear on a park situated next to the West Side Highway. Regular streets too are now lined with people dining in outdoor patios built on top of parking spaces. It feels like a whole new (and much more adoreable) streetscape. We’re seeing a glimpse of the city New York should have always been.
I’ve also been pleased with Streetsblog’ recent article listing out each of the 2021 mayoral candidates’ opinions on how to address the overcrowding of the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway. Each of the responses emphasized the need to deprioritize car traffic on the bridge. Imagine how nice it would be for everyone to finally have the space they need to make that crossing enjoyable.
All this to say that I’m cautiously optimistic of what’s to come.
In an odd coincidence, one of my favorite comedians released a new special, Miami Nights, just as I flee from Miami back to New York. At some point I’d like to write a bit about my brief experience of living there from the prospective of an aggressively anti-car urbanist. Unfortunately being in-between apartments during a pandemic isn’t the best environment to sit down, think and write.
Anyways, I’d highly recommend watching this special if you’re looking for a pick-me-up in this hellscape of a year.
A small detail from some screenshots in the keynotes (and later confirmed on Apple’s website) is adding next-hour precipitation to the native weather apps for both iOS and MacOS:
If I could take a guess, it looks like they’ve already integrated DarkSky’s forecasts into iOS. It’s a relief for any of us who have been desparately seeking a weather app that has good data + isn’t bloated with all sorts of nonsense/distractions, but still a bummer that Dark Sky isn’t its own company anymore.
I don’t remember exactly how this quote made it into my bookmarks, but I really liked it and thought it’d be worth sharing:
It’s a strange thing about the human mind that, despite its capacity and its abundant freedom, its default is to function in a repeating pattern. It watches the moon and the planets, the days and seasons, the cycle of life and death all going around in an endless loop, and unconsciously, believing itself to be nature, the mind echoes these cycles. Its thoughts go in loops, repeating patterns established so long ago we often can’t remember their origin, or why they ever made sense to us. And even when these loops fail over and over again to bring us to a desirable place, even while they entrap us, and make us feel anciently tired of ourselves, and we sense that sticking to their well-worn path means we’ll miss contact with the truth every single time, we still find it nearly impossible to resist them. We call these patterns of thought our “nature” and resign ourselves to being governed by them as if they are the result of a force outside of us, the way that the seas are governed — rather absurdly, when one thinks about it — by a distant and otherwise irrelevant moon.
And yet it is unquestionably within our power to break the loop; to “violate” what presents itself as our nature by choosing to think — and to see, and act — in a different way. It may require enormous effort and focus. And yet for the most part it isn’t laziness that stops us from breaking these loops, it’s fear. In a sense, one could say that fear is the otherwise irrelevant moon that we allow to govern the far larger nature of our minds.