Charlie's Blog: August 2018


Quit Social Media

Exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person. You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work. In other words, you are simply normal, and it is soon hard to believe you are under the influence of any drug. Long intensive physical work is performed without any fatigue. This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcoholic beverages. No craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug.

Sigmund Freud began using cocaine early in his career and thought the drug so beneficial that he recommended it to others. He saw in it the potential for great good. Then, he stopped making those recommendations. Somewhere, his love affair with the drug ceased as he saw that the wonders of it were no longer so wonderful. Similarly today, many people have become enraptured with the possibilities of social media but now confess that social media takes more than it gives. Social media addiction is a thing now, and people now express the desire to quit it. Should you quit social media? Absolutely.

Addictions can be good things, and they can also be bad things. An addiction to heroin or nicotine or gambling would be bad things. But being addicted to coffee, exercise, and work can be good things. Having a good addiction means that you no longer rely upon willpower but habit to motivate you to do something. A bad addiction is where you have to use willpower to overcome it. This is not an easy thing. You are essentially reprogramming the computer of your mind.

We know an addiction is bad when it takes more from us than it gives back. This is always true in regard to drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Virtually no one benefits from addictions to these things. On the other hand, my addiction to coffee has been nothing but pure win for me. And just when I think it might be bad, they come out with a new study touting the wonderful health benefits of the juice of the magic black bean. And my workplace makes sure I have a steady supply of java because coffee is the one drug that will allow you to keep your job and get you a raise and a promotion.

When it comes to social media addiction, we have to ask the same question. Does it take more than it gives? The unqualified answer to that is yes. People are now reckoning with the fact that their social media renders more harm than good in their lives. Here are the ways that social media costs you.


1. Social media robs you of your time.

It takes very little time to compose a tweet or a Facebook update. Yet, an entire evening or weekend can be consumed by reading and writing those little bits of information.

2. Social media makes you angry.

Twitter is the primary culprit here. Going on Twitter seems like a great way to vent anger, yet you end up becoming more angry as you spend time on the service. It becomes especially flammable when someone disagrees with you leading to an exchange of fire. Then, you get really mad when they ban you from the service.

3. Social media makes you envious.

Facebook is the primary culprit here. When was the last time someone announced their divorce on Facebook? When did you read about someone getting terminated from their job? What about that DUI arrest? The fact is that Facebook is life edited with the ugly parts removed. Then, you read about someone else's perfect life and wonder why your life is so messed up. It's like women who want to look like the models on the covers on magazines without realizing that the imperfections of those models are removed digitally. Even the models don't look like the models. Reality can never compete with the fantasy. Quit comparing your reality to someone else's fantasy.

4. Social media makes you vain.

Instagram is the primary culprit here. For some reason, people love to take selfies. I like photographs of various things, but I don't think your Grand Canyon picture is so great with your mug in the way of the camera.

5. Social media kills your social life.

Go into any restaurant or coffee place, and you will see people staring at their screens. This would be fine if you are alone, but you can witness entire groups of people doing this at a table. They will even text each other across the table. This is stupid.

6. Social media can kill you.

It's hard to get accurate statistics on distracted driving because no one will admit they put their car in the ditch because they were updating their Facebook. But I see a lot of one car accidents these days and plenty of people with one hand on the wheel and one hand and both eyes on their smartphones. I also know of one lady who is now dead because she walked in front of a city bus while engrossed in her smartphone.

7. Social media ruins your experience of the world.

People can't do anything without stopping to take a selfie for Instagram or report about it on Facebook. We are becoming a society of distracted narcissists playing in an imaginary world online.

8. Social media takes away your privacy.

It is now common knowledge that Facebook takes the personal data of its users and sells it to third parties. Big Brother doesn't need to spy on you because you invite him in every time you log onto Facebook.

9. Social media can cost you your career and your relationships.

People post things online without reflecting on the consequences. The result is that celebrities can literally tank their careers in less than a day. For the hoi polloi, it can result in getting fired or the people in your life losing their temper over things you have posted. And once it hits social media, the damage is rapid. Your life can be destroyed before you can hit the delete button.

10. Social media lessens your attention span and hurts your thinking.

Social media diminishes your mental capacity to think long and deep. This is a nice way of saying that social media makes you stupid. Our intellectual discourse has now been reduced to the tweet and the meme and the thirty second video clip.

Without a doubt, social media is a detriment to you and your life. You would definitely be better off without it. People who quit social media always report an improvement in their lives. They think better. They behave better. They have better relationships. They have more time to think, work, and enjoy life. Quitting social media results in pure win. So, how do we get off this drug?

Quitting this habit is not easy. It is as addictive as smoking in my humble opinion. Social media enslaves you with those constant hits of dopamine in your brain. The designers of social media know this. They made it this way in much the same way that drug dealers will give out free samples to get people hooked. You can't go broke feeding other people's vices, and the social media people know this. Like McDonald's, Big Tobacco, Las Vegas casinos, and your local crack dealer, the social media people know that an addicted customer is a faithful customer. Here are some tips for quitting this awful habit.


1. Delete and deactivate all social media accounts completely.

When people try and quit social media, they try and bargain with themselves. They might delete their Facebook but keep their Instagram. Or, they might try and prune the list of who they follow. Or, they might try and discipline themselves with an egg timer. All of these things are ridiculous. They are like a cokehead resolving to just snort a few lines on the weekend. The best way to win this battle is total annihilation of all social media accounts.

2. Get rid of your smartphone.

The smartphone is the crack pipe for the social media addict. Who quits a drug but hangs on to the paraphernalia? Granted, some jobs and professions require a smartphone for the purpose of checking email. But if you can live with a flip phone or a dumbphone, your life will be better for it. If you can't, dumb down your smartphone by removing any needless apps for social media and chatting.

3. Use alternative tools.

If there is one advantage of social media, it lets you know what is happening. But you will find that you can get the same information through other tools that are actually more reliable. One of these tools is your old fashioned email account. When people really want me to know about something important, they send it by email. Email still remains the number one tool on the internet. As for news, I recommend Google News, the Drudge Report, and Feedly. You can also use your email to subscribe to newsletters from the sites you trust and love. If you do this, you will find yourself better informed than your peers on a fraction of the time cost of social media.

4. Combat the urges by reading this article again and again.

I find that it takes about two weeks to get over the urges to satisfy a habit. When those urges hit, you have to fight them with your mind. The best way to do this is to keep reading this article over and over to reinforce in your mind why you need to quit this habit. Eventually, not being on social media becomes the new habit, and you don't have to think about it anymore.

5. Enjoy the benefits of being free of social media.

Eventually, you start to enjoy life without the social media drug in much the same way that an ex-smoker enjoys breathing fresh air. Take a moment to realize the blessing you have given yourself by getting rid of your social media accounts. This positive reinforcement will help cement your decision to be free of the bad habit you left behind.


The lifestyle change you make when you escape social media is known as digital minimalism. Digital minimalism is a much better way to live. There is more to life than your smartphone and your social media feeds. Digital minimalism is a reality based lifestyle.

When you embrace digital minimalism, it has multiple salutary benefits on your life and your psyche. You get your time back. You get your focus back. You get your privacy back. You get your productivity back. You get your sanity back.

People will think you are odd and strange for your digital minimalism. People are always shocked when I whip out my flip phone, but I also know that they are inwardly admiring my refusal to run with the herd. There is no law that says that you have to do what everyone else is doing.

There are arguments you will hear against digital minimalism. You are being a Luddite! You are such a dinosaur! But technology should improve your life. It should liberate you not enslave you. You will find that your life is just fine with your old fashioned flip phone and a laptop computer. You still do things, and you still know things. But you will also discover that you get more done than your social media addicted peers. It's like running a marathon against a field of chain smokers. You're an idiot until you beat them to the finish line.

It takes fortitude and wisdom to become a digital minimalist. It isn't for everyone. It is for the few who see the narrow path and take it to a better place. That person could be you. I encourage you to quit social media, embrace digital minimalism, and start enjoying the life you had before social media.


Embrace the Grind

Oh blessed perseverance of the donkey that turns the waterwheel! Always the same pace. Always around the same circle. One day after another, every day the same. Without that, there would be no ripeness in the fruit, nor blossom in the orchard, nor scent of flowers in the garden.

The most glamorous and fun job that I can imagine is being a rock star. The rock star gets to make music and perform before thousands and sometimes millions thanks to television. They are rich and adored by many. Yet, we do not see the many hours that rock star spent alone in a room tuning his guitar, playing his scales, and learning his instrument. We do not see the hours in a recording studio laboring to create an album. We do not see the many hours spent on the road traveling from one venue to the next. That life of glamour comes with a great deal of grind. The reality is that virtually everything comes down to grinding it out. The secret to it all is to somehow learn to embrace that grind.

The grind is the name I give to all of the unglamorous tasks of life. It is usually your job but also the commute to that job. It is showering and shaving to be ready for that job. It is the making of breakfast and lunch to fuel that job. It is the laundering of clothes and uniforms for the sake of that job. The grind goes on and on. There is no end to the grind.

The opposite of grinding is daydreaming. This is when you allow your mind to wander and contemplate the glamour of the rock star. You think to yourself how great that would be except the daydream subtracts the hours of grind that is reality. There is only the cheering crowd, and your air guitar to enthrall them. There is none of the mess and the drudgery.

I despise daydreams. Dreaming is easy. Working is hard. So often, people have dreams, but they depend upon others to grind to make those dreams reality. The architect springs readily to mind. It is comparatively easier to design a building than it is to lay the bricks for that building. The same can be said for the music composer or the screenplay writer. Their professions are not quite the same as that of Michelangelo chiseling the stone bringing forth beauty with each hammer strike.

You have dreamers, and you have workers. Sometimes, the dreamer and the worker is the same guy. Other times, you have dreamers who do nothing, and you have workers with no dreams except a paycheck and a cold beer at the end of the week. Then, there are the failures who grind in monotony for no purpose at all. Their minds slip into madness as the absurdity grinds them instead.

There are essentially two types of people in the world. You have those who wish to escape the grind, and you have those who embrace the grind. This is an important distinction because it is the only one that really matters. Escaping the grind is the prerogative of the lazy and the dreamers. They want the fruits but not the labor. The only hard work they do is finding ways to not work hard. They scheme and connive and trick others into doing the work. This is because work is for suckers. These are the parasites.

Those who embrace the grind are the producers. Nothing good in this world would exist except for these producers. Look at any structure or product and contemplate the labor that went into it. Even a ditch required labor and machinery to make. Others had to make the tools and machinery which required even more digging.

The real dream of the producers is to be able to direct their labor towards their own ends instead of someone else's ends. Even the businessman must direct his ends towards the satisfaction of customer demands. But producers take more joy in plowing their own fields instead of someone else's field. It is a small dream to be able to plow your own field, but this is the dream parasites deprive from producers.

Culture is one of the few things that parasites are unable to filch from the producers. This is why so much rich culture comes from so much poverty. The working man may not own a field or even his own home. But he owns his talents, his creativity, and his work ethic. This may not seem like much, but this is the stuff that makes cathedrals.

Producers will work harder and take greater satisfaction if it is in service to something greater than themselves. The first is their family. The second is their country. The third is their faith. These three things animate the drive, work ethic, and creativity of working people like nothing else. They make the grind worth enduring.

On the personal level, people experience frustrations in life. These frustrations come when they desire things they are unable to attain. They can take the Zen Buddhist way and extinguish those desires. Or, they can try to overcome the obstacles to those desires. The biggest obstacles are themselves.

People find it easier to work for others than to work for themselves. That is a puzzling irony. It explains our reluctance to get off of the couch and go to the gym or hit the books or learn new skills or overcome bad habits. Leisure is the time we have to grind for ourselves, but we find it easier to escape the grind by doing nothing instead. This would be fine except we still retain our dreams and desires. We dream, but we do not grind.

The motivational snake oil salesmen tell us that our failures are in our lack of dreams. If we just dream harder, they will materialize. Those dreams and $19.95 for the home study course will bring you prosperity and happiness. The reality is that it will bring someone else prosperity and happiness.

The key to it all comes back to the grind. You need to dream less and grind more. Satisfaction never comes from the dream either in its creation or its fulfillment. Satisfaction comes from the grind. And that, Gentle Reader, is the mindblower. Jimi Hendrix was a rock star because he fundamentally loved playing guitar. He played the instrument compulsively and was rarely without a guitar in his hands.

People who are good at grinding find their pleasures and satisfactions in the grinding itself. This is easier in creative endeavors like playing an instrument or inventing the light bulb. It is a little less easier in digging ditches or riding a stationary bike at the gym like a hamster on a wheel. But I can attest that Leonardo took no more satisfaction in painting the Mona Lisa than I take in cleaning out my dirty vehicle. In the process and the end, beauty emerges.

Aesthetics can be a powerful motivator, but nothing is as powerful as the spiritual. The greatest monuments in human history have been erected for spiritual purposes. We find our greatest pleasures in the grind when they are turned to spiritual ends. In short, we should grind for God. In doing this, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

The rock star seeks his own glory and pleasures. The saint seeks the glory of God and finds higher and more satisfying pleasures in that pursuit. We should embrace our crosses. For most of us, this cross will be the grind. We should lose ourselves in the grind as we lay one stone upon another. We let God be the architect of our lives. We trust that His direction is better than our own. We do not see what God sees. We just see the stone that we are moving. All of these stones add up. And sometimes, you get a glimpse of what the grind is producing. It is a fleeting glimpse lest it be a distraction. But that glimpse is enough to let us know that we do not labor in vain. We can embrace the grind.