There is a basket in my front hallway. It is where my phone lives when I am at home. And if I want to use my phone, I consign myself to doing my business in the front hallway.
Since my phone moved to its home in the basket, I find myself interacting with the entranceway as a distinct room in my house. In a sense, the hallway is the internet. Or, at least at a minimum, it represents the distractions and clamour of the internet.
What’s in the rest of the house? Family, books, and little shrines of furniture devoted to dining, chatting, playing, and writing. And all of these activities are more important to me than my inbox. Over time, a spacial differentiation occurs. The hallway becomes a physical boundary marker: it is a buffer between the people and activities I love the most vis-a-vis everything else in the world that wants to interrupt.
When I leave my phone in the basket in the front hallway, the house transforms into a home, instead of a remote office. Not only a home but also a sanctuary: a place to be free from enslavement to correspondence and exchange; a place for talking, eating, reading, doodling, and thinking.
A home is only a ’domain’ if it is distinctive from the rest of the world. And increasingly it seems to me that ’the internet’ and ’the rest of the world’ are synonyms. My front hallway has become the frontlines in keeping the world at bay.
10 Timeframes by Paul Ford is a beautiful essay. Ford asks a deceivingly simple question: when you spend a portion of your life (that is, your time) working on a project, do you take into account how your work will consume, spend, or use portions of other lives? How does the ‘thing’ you are working on right now play out in the future when there are “People using your systems, playing with your toys, [and] fiddling with your abstractions”?
It is good to think about how to negate wasting other people’s time in the here and now. Straight to the chase, I can’t say it better than Jason Fried: “If you have a meeting coming up and you have the power to do so, just cancel it.”
But what about the future users of your products, platforms, systems, and knowledge? Are you honouring their lives and time, too? I often think about this when editing video: does this one-minute section respect the time of future viewers? A minute multiplied by the number of times a video might be viewed suddenly represents a sizeable chunk of collective human resources. In this respect, ‘filler’ is irresponsible: if you know something is not adding value or meaning to future ‘consumers,’ then you are, in a sense, robbing life from them. It seems extreme to say that, yes, but hopefully contemplating the proposition has not wasted your time.
Do not write off realism for its curmudgeonliness. There is no greater hope than the latent joy residing in the anguish of complete honesty. After all, even nihilism is nothing but a floating signifier and, in this respect, it is synonymous with meaning.
Careerism means participating in a commonly understood competitive point scheme to achieve an arbitrary definition of victory, awarded with ritualistically significant tokens of achievement. In other words, a sport.
The sooner you realize that you’re gonna be just another irrelevant footnote in the bargain bin of history, the sooner you can get on with the marvellousness of living your life.
My guess is that most of us will not end up on our deathbeds thinking to ourselves, “Well, I wish I had spent more time looking at social media.”