There are a lot of people out there who are re-thinking their social media use and I think this is a good idea. It’s taken a long time but the realization that prolonged exposure to these platforms are not good for your mental health.
I got out a few years ago, because of the stupidity of it all. There is nothing of value there unless there are legitimate, supportive conversations. You know, dialogue as opposed to ”Look at me and my best life!” Well even if we wanted to see you at your best life we couldn’t thanks to the manipulation of the data and the way it is presented to you. And you’ll be hard pressed to even see that because of the pervasive, irrelevant advertisements.. No thank you.
So I am glad to read that attitudes are changing and people can slowly start to recover their IQs and have the ability to hold actual conversations in real settings. I’ll touch on this more because I have a lot to say and not enough energy to articulate at the moment.
A recent post from another blogger has me thinking: “How much am I paying for subscription services? Do I even know all the services I am paying and agreeing to on a monthly or yearly basis? How much money can I save if I take an honest look and assess my needs/wants?
Personally, I prefer using stock apps and services where I can, but sometimes, apps and services can be a real joy to use instead. I dislike subscriptions and prefer to pay for a service one-time, but here lately many developers or moving away from one time purchases and going to the subscription model to keep the money flowing in. I don’t mind supporting small, independent developers, but I prefer not to succumb to subscription creep either.
Honest assessment of apps/services:
Apple One- Too much good stuff here that I use frequently like Music, TV, 2 TB storage, Fitness+, Arcade and News. A bonus feature is the ability to share it with up to 5 family members who enjoy as well at no extra cost. $30mo.
Adobe Photography Plan- I’ve been using Adobe products for 15 years and hated it when they switched to subscription model. But they made it worthwhile. A lot of value here for $10 monthly. Plus, they host my photography website. Is it possible to do without it? Yes. I have made software purchases ahead of leaving Adobe, but…it’s a tough one. It stays for now.
Bear Notes- Could I use the stock Apple Notes instead? Yes. But Apple Notes is so damn ugly. Bear has all the features and design I want except the ability to collaborate with others. I just re-upped back in December, so it stays for another 11 months. $15 yearly.
DayOne- The best private journal app that I’ve been free using for 6 years. I just subscribed last month thanks to a generous Apple Store gift card. Is it worth $30 a year? That depends on my usage this year. Plus, they just got bought out by my current web host, WordPress, and promise to integrate somehow. TBD.
Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle- $20 monthly with a lot of entertainment value. ESPN, not so much. They keep all the big matches and F1 races off there. Hulu up-charges to avoid ads (a must). Today, I dropped those two and holding on to Disney for $7 a month. Will it last?
Feedbin- Consider it to be a podcast player, but for blogs, YouTube videos, newsletters and more. There are other feed readers out there for a hell of a lot less but FeedBin checks all the right boxes, and it has been great, but $50 a year with no software improvements? Why? Subscription ends in February.
Fantastical- Do I need a calendar app for $40 a year? When I thought it could help me organize and block out times for my personal life and connect to my company’s email Outlook Exchange, yes. Only to discover my company blocks access to third-party apps for security. Damn. Will not renew in favor of Apple stock calendar app. In December.
Geocaching- A worldwide treasure hunt using GPS coordinates and a fun way to get out and explore. Worth the $50 annually for me.
Micro.blog- A new-to-me platform for hosting blogs. Simple, easy, with amazing community support and direct access to the developer. Will it pull me away from WordPress? Time will tell. $5 or $10 monthly based on desired features.
MindNode- a tool that helps me parse my thoughts with visual diagrams. I’ve been using it to help plot my novels and short stories. I grabbed it again because it was available thanks to an Apple gift card. $20 a year. Then again, pen and paper works just as well.
Ulysses- One of the best software tools around for writers. I’m typing this article on it now and will send it to my website via Ulysses automagically. $50 annually versus the one time paid app I also have called iA Writer. Subscription renewed in November. Status is: we’ll see.
VSCO- A remarkable phone camera app that offers a lot of vintage film emulations with strong community support and even a webpage to host your images. $20 annually.
WordPress- My website host for the past 19 years. They’ve been outstanding but lately quite proud of their offerings and the subscription costs jump as a result. This is why I’ve been looking at Micro.blog as an alternative. $80 annually
Well, that escalated quickly. There may be some subscriptions I have forgotten about that will be a surprise when I get the bill. But those will be addressed accordingly. As a result of this analysis, I’m taking a look at services, value, costs, and alternatives. I’m off to go unsubscribe to a few things and when the renewal notices pop up I’ll reconsider everything.
After twenty years of putting my thoughts online, I still feel like I don’t know what I am doing. Occasionally, it even feels like imposter syndrome, like I don’t belong. But then I think, “Who am I writing for?” Easy answer is myself and sometimes great people come along and join me.
Taking a quote from another author and a blogger:
Blog posts can be edited, added to, improved upon. If you missed something, you can fix it.
Kleon writes that blogging is a ‘forgiving medium’ because it can be therapeutic. Blogging can be rewarding by practicing and learning in public. Not one single person will know what changes I make to a post unless I call myself out with a correction or an update to that post. Unless you have a massive following who likes to keep track of those kinds of things- which I don’t have.
Learning by doing. The more you create, the more you learn. Learn by putting yourself out there and become a better writer.
Learn how to close out your thoughts and your blog post properly.
The title of this post is loosely taken from Stephen King’s book titled “On Writing.”
I am so close to my minimalistic and materialistic goals that I need to start thinking of what more I can do with the freedom from clutter.
So, I’ll focus on the basics of what keeps me going: photography, writing, journaling, geocaching, walking, fitness, nutrition, creating art, thinking, philosophy, looking for more ways I can reduce my clutter, and anything else I want to do.
2022 has arrived, and I have some ideas for my photography for the new year. Photographers are constantly looking for what’s new to shoot, new gear and new challenges for ourselves. So here goes.
Shoot with iPhone Less
Yes, it is the camera/phone I will always have on me and it would be so easy to just grab, go and shoot. But I want to shoot with intention this year. This means that Sonya will come out with me more frequently. Because film stock is now more expensive this year (thanks a lot Kodak), I ordered 20 rolls of 35 and 110 mm film ahead of time. Shooting film and digital can be a more rewarding aesthetic than just quick iPhone snaps.
If I am being honest, the iPhone will still come out to play. Just less. I didn’t upgrade to the 13 Max Pro cameras for nothing!
Delete Social Media
Forget Instagram, forget Flickr, forget SmugMug, etc. etc. This is a new year and a new opportunity to build your own photography portfolio website like mine. This way you have more control over what and how you want your work to be displayed. Adobe Lightroom subscribers can use the additional Portfolio platform at no extra cost. Host your photos on WordPress or Micro.blog.
One Camera & One Lens
This should be an easy one for me since the new Sony camera, Sonya, was so expensive. She comes with one 28-70mm lens, and it’ll be a long time before I decide to get another lens in addition. This camera will have to become a part of me. I am still learning how to navigate through all the menu options, but what better way to learn than by doing? Now is the time for me to learn and practice with one focal length and master it. Then I can move on to the next one.
Photo Books or Zines
Based on the type of photography topics you prefer, you can print photo albums or books. For me, digital photo zines are ideal. Inexpensive to make and widely distributed to anyone on the planet with internet connectivity.
Black/White Or Color?
Back when I shot color photography, now and then I’d challenge myself to change the aesthetic by switching it up. “Black & White Appreciation Month” was fairly frequent, so much so that now I prefer B&W. Change your genre as well for those happy surprises. You just might like it.
Is it possible to be happy where you feel like you are stuck? Regardless of where we are, I do believe it is possible to be happy. Personally, I am bitter towards living in a small city that is land-locked and in a flyover state during a pandemic. Yes, there is always going to be a better city or country that have a better climate or opportunities, but what can we do with what we have? Personally, I’ve discovered that once I’ve found the perfect place, I am still not satisfied because there is so much more for me to explore.
After traveling extensively, I realize I want to do it more. But what of it isn’t possible during a pandemic or lockdowns? We make do with what we have, but you have to work at it. If what you want there doesn’t exist, try to improve it yourself.
From the master of micro-adventures:
“I thought that I had been paying close attention to my local area through years of micro-adventures. Then I committed to spending a year exploring only the single local map that I live on (the big fold-out paper maps hikers use, covering an area of 20km x 20km). At first I worried that after years of global adventures — cycling around the world, rowing the Atlantic, walking across southern India etc. — my one small, suburban patch outside London would be agonisingly claustrophobic, boring and limiting. But I was wrong! I have discovered places I never knew existed, and been astonished at the wildness, beauty (ugliness, too) and history I have discovered. If you find somewhere new within a few miles of home then you are exploring the world just as much as someone trekking across the Empty Quarter Desert in Arabia…”
Well said. Inspirational even.
Your mental and physical health is crucial in all of this. It’s time to keep your brain and your body fit. Get out and have a walk and a think. I’ll be embracing naps a lot this winter as well.
I said all that to say this: if you can’t change your latitude, then your attitude needs to change. This is easier said than done, but I am going to give it a helluva try.
I’ve been self-hosting on WordPress for almost 15 years, then switched to WP hosted. I am now experimenting with microblogging and the new-to-me web host called Micro.blog.
The immediate goal for me is to have a repository for all short form posts (280 words or less), audio & video clips that don’t necessarily have a place here where I reserve for my long-form blog posts. Think Twitter but self-hosted and not on anyone else’s platform. Even better, they are all in one dedicated page here on my website. Neat.
So far so good, but is it good enough for me to import everything over here yet? Stay tuned.
**Update** This is shelved for now and I’ll take another look at it when it comes time to renew WordPress subscription in September.
2020 was a dumpster fire of a year thanks to the pandemic. 2021 for me, saw great improvements all around. 2022 will capitalize on those improvements and be an even better year because I choose this. I’ll outline the goals for 2022 soon.