“Are our present social media posts going to mortify our kids in the future?”

One of the challenges of being a parent in a time where we can share so much of our lives on social media is deciding how much to share about our kids. I decided to stop sharing much more than tidbits about our kids online a year or two ago. One of the reasons I stepped back was this:

One commenter criticized parents like the essay’s author for having “turned their family’s daily dramas into content.” Another said the woman’s essay surfaces a “nagging – and loaded – question among parents in the age of Instagram. … Are our present social media posts going to mortify our kids in the future?”

Michelle Ruiz

Of course part of the challenge is that our friends and family are likely on Facebook, and that’s where they share their lives. They don’t necessarily share publicly (as in the Public sharing option), but Facebook is their social hub.

Sharing our kids’ lives isn’t a modern phenomenon. Parents have been doing it for generations. What’s new is that we can share so much, across such vast distances, and at scale. Far beyond ye olde photo albums with printed photos. As Priya Kumar pointed out

Unlike the diary entries, photo albums and home videos of yore, blog posts, Instagram photos and YouTube videos reside in platforms owned by corporations and can be made visible to far more people than most parents realize or expect.

Facebook and the problem with posting about your kids online

I created a private family blog that is only accessible to family and close friends as a way to still share our lives with family and friends, and only with them. It hasn’t attracted much interest, though, and the reason seems to be that it’s not on Facebook, and therefore not part of that social hub.

It’s tempting to just go back to sharing this stuff on Facebook, and rejoin the collective there. The problem with this is that doing that is more likely to be harmful to our kids. And that doesn’t justify the convenience to our friends and family.

So, I reconsidered the value of our family blog. Instead of its primary purpose being a way to share our lives with friends and family in a way that better protects our kids’ privacy, I see it as a great way to document our lives for our kids.

I’d love to see our friends and family interacting with our family blog, but I’m not expecting to see that for the time being. Facebook has too much of a hold over our digital, social interactions (at least in my circles).

WhatsApp is a pretty prominent platform too, but sending a WhatsApp message to a family group isn’t the same as a blog post with photo galleries, a story, links, and maps that I use to document our experiences.

There are definitely more private options available for sharing our personal lives online. I’m partial to blogs but there are adoption drawbacks.

Still, given the choice between fewer visits from Facebook (and other) hold-outs, and committing our children to a degree of publicity they won’t want as they grow up, I’m comfortable adjusting my expectations of how many people will visit our family blog.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Anna Samoylova

Pretty excited about the RSS block in Gutenberg 5.0

I noticed that Gutenberg 5.0 has added a RSS block to the editor. This is probably a bit nerdy, but I was pretty excited to see this addition to the block editor.

My “Interesting stuff” page is an experiment in sharing things I find, well, interesting online. I had to install a separate plugin to add a RSS feed that I created, initially. The new RSS block makes it as easy as it should be to just add a RSS feed to a post or a page.

I like it!

This wasn’t the only addition through Gutenberg 5.0. Here’s the announcement post with details of the new Kindle block, and a great tweak to the Cover block:

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Markus Spiske

Diabetic for 6 years

Today is the sixth anniversary of my Diabetes diagnosis. I remember the morning I received the news from my doctor. I had gone for blood tests because I was feeling thirsty almost constantly, and I noticed that my vision was a little fuzzy.

I discovered that these are two typical symptoms of Diabetes later. At the time, I was in a state of shock. I was only 37. I thought that life as I knew it was over. It was, just not how I thought at the time.

Being diagnosed forced me to lose weight, and start eating far better. Much of the credit for eating better goes to my wife who’s found great, Diabetic-friendly alternatives to common ingredients in the years since then. I remember that she basically went out and replaced much of our kitchen inventory with healthier options almost right away.

Since then, my control has been mostly ok.

The thing with Diabetes is that it’s a progressive condition. You need to work at it, every day, for the rest of your life.

That means you need to be mindful about what you eat, and when you eat it. I haven’t found that depriving entirely is the way to go, at least not for me. I cheat now and then, and focus on keeping that urge under control.

I’ve slipped many times. My levels were way too high for most of 2018, and I’ve started to bring them back down in the last couple months with more regular exercise. When I spoke to my doctor after my latest blood test results, she said that she’d formally prescribe exercise if she could, it’s that important.

I started running at the beginning of the year. I aim for 20 minutes, five times a week. I can’t say that I enjoy running, but I’m getting stronger, and 20 minutes isn’t that much time. It’s enough to get my heart rate up to where it needs to be (frequently even higher), and I can see the results in my routine blood tests.

I can also see what happens when I take a break from my running.

For now, my goal is to get my levels down enough for a “normal” HbA1c test in a month or two. That’s only going to happen with regular exercise, better discipline with what I eat, and a focus on the positive benefits of all of this effort.

At the same time, I’m also thinking about doing a race or two this year. The city conducts a running race in November each year. Gina and Aaron ran last year, and I think I’ll join them this year, and run the 5km race.

It’s been a challenging 6 years, and I’m sure there will be more challenges in the year ahead. The point, though, is that there will be years to look forward to.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Brian Metzler*

*FYI, this isn’t what I look like when I’m running. It’s what I imagine when I’m gasping for breath, lurching up a hill on my usual route.

Like Twitter, but for reading (and not in a good way)

Jamie Rubin recently wrote about abridgement going too far when it comes to books in his post “Abridge, Too Far“.

I’ve been thinking about abridgments lately because of an ad that keeps popping up on Facebook. It’s for a service called Blinkist. The service claims it allows you to “fit reading into your life.” It does this by providing short (15 minute or so) key takeaways of popular nonfiction books. I took a look at some titles in the History category. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, a book I recently finished, is summarized in 19 minutes of audio. The actual unabridged audiobook is over 15 hours long. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, which I read last year is summarized in 19 minutes. Actual unabridged audiobook length: 41 hours 32 minutes. This, to me, is abridge too far.

Jamie Rubin

This reminded me about a couple articles I’ve read lately about a different approach to using social media. In Ephrat Livni‘s post titled “The best way to use social media is to act like a 19th-century Parisian“, she wrote –

Arendt argued that a moral society depends on thinking individuals. In order to think we need solitude and mental freedom. “Arendt reminds us, if we lose our capacity for solitude, our ability to be alone with ourselves, then we lose our very ability to think. We risk getting caught up in the crowd. We risk being ‘swept away’, as she put it, ‘by what everybody else does and believes in,’” Stitt writes. She warns that in our hyper-connected world, the risk of losing a connection to ourselves and the ability to think independently is greater than ever.

Ephrat Livni

These extreme abridgements are like Twitter, but for reading. I mean this both in the sense that they’re short (well, they’re abridgements), but also in the sense that they seem to fit this notion of reading as something to churn through so you can rush off to the next thing. All while completely skipping past the substance that reading offers.

Reading is an opportunity to be still for a time, and delve into ideas, stories, other worlds. It’s not about scanning some quick gist, deluding yourself into thinking you’ve somehow grasped the essence of the book.

As Rubin points out, this is partly about exploitation –

My worry is that the revolt, in this case, is against reading. These millions are not consuming the works, they are instead like vultures, tearing away at the liver and intestines of a book that has already been gutted by profiteers playing on people’s desire to feel well-read without doing the actual work of reading.

More than that, though, I think this is indicative of a social trend away from substance, and thoughtfulness, towards a much more impulsive and superficial approach to how we live our lives, and engage with the issues we face.

Om Malik touched on this in his post titled “Why we need to slow time and scale down” –

Everything is meta sized. Information, choices, inputs, and outcomes. As a result, our biological makeup is being put to test. How long can we live with an unending dopamine hits? What about the thumbs, eyes and our hearts which are facing new stresses? What about our diets that are full of sugar and are re-configuring out gut microbes?

Om Malik

Let’s not be in such a rush to skip through the substance in Life. That substance is what our lives are about.

Remembering the Holocaust

Yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here in Israel, we commemorate the Holocaust later in the year, on Yom HaShoah. This isn’t an event we only think about once a year. The ripples from this tragedy pervade our society.

At the same time, we should have times when we intentionally, and mindfully look back at what happened through the eyes of those who witnessed it. Reminders like this ensure that we never forget:

Nazi Holocaust / Concentration Camps liberation Footage World War II Camps Of The Dead 34682 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

This tweet is another stark reminder of the atrocities that the Nazis committed:

Featured image credit: Holocaust Memorial at California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Starting my week with rhythmic inspiration from Emancipator

I came across music by Emancipator in one of my Spotify playlists. I started to dig into some of the albums, and I really enjoy this music for general background music, as well as for work. A great starting point is this Spotify playlist:

Here’s some more information about Douglas Appling, aka Emancipator, in his YouTube About page:

A sleeping giant of the electronic music world, Douglas Appling – more commonly known as Emancipator – has quietly established himself as a mainstay in the electronic music scene since the release of his debut album, Soon It Will Be Cold Enough in 2006. Classically-trained as a violinist from an early age, Appling’s organic approach to electronic music production draws inspiration from a wide range of international cultures and musical genres, culminating in a refreshingly authentic brand of electronic music that has infiltrated global consciousness.

One of my favourite albums so far is “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough“:

I’m still working through Emancipator’s albums, though, and I’m really enjoying the music. As is the case with an artist who just seems to produce so much great music, it’s difficult to pick out favourites. “Ocelot” from “Seven Seas” is a good one though:

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Jesse Gardner

Tips for being productive on GitHub

I spend much of my day interacting with GitHub in one form or another as part of my day job, even though I’m not working at Automattic as a software developer. Between coding little scripts to make me more efficient, and managing or contributing to work-related projects, I use GitHub daily.

This is why I enjoyed Darren Burns’ post titled “8 Productivity Tips for GitHub” that he published on his blog, and on Dev.

GitHub is built with some extremely helpful shortcuts and productivity-boosting features. From personal experience, however, it’s clear that these often fall under the radar amongst developers. If I’ve ever witnessed a specific GitHub feature surprise or assist someone, then that feature is on this page. That said, what follows is by no means an exhaustive list.

Darren Burn

If you’re also a bit of a productivity geek, and spend time in GitHub, you may find some useful tips here.

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Headway

Switch your family to Ubuntu Linux, it may be less confusing than Windows

As my family knows, I clearly prefer Linux over Windows, and if we didn’t have the option of using macOS computers, we’d be using Linux, likely Ubuntu.

With that in mind, I enjoyed Simon Frey’s post “How switching my parents over to Linux saved me a lot of headache and support calls“, partly because I switched my mother over to a Linux machine briefly, a couple years ago –

As I am a happy Linux user for over a decade now, I asked myself if it would be a good idea to switch my parents away from Win 10 to a GNU/Linux (I will call it only Linux during the rest of the post. Sorry Richard 😉 ) based system.

I did that and now 2 years later I still think it was a good idea: I have the peace of mind, that their data is kinda safe and they also call me less often regarding any technical issues with the system. (Yes, Win 10 confused them more than Ubuntu does).

Simon Frey

Sure, Windows comes typically comes preinstalled on computers you buy at your local retailer. At the same time, it’s worth opting for something different for various reasons. Simon’s post nicely explains his approach to switching his parents over.

I especially like how he first acclimated them to alternative apps that they’d use on Ubuntu while still using Windows –

Try to not overwhelm them with to much new interfaces at once. Use a step by step solution.

So first of all, keep them on their current system and help them to adapt to FLOSS software that will be their main driver on the Linux later on.

I know a few people in my family who could do everything they need to do with Ubuntu installed on their computers (and likely have far fewer issues, too).

Image credit: A Screenshot of the Latest Ubuntu Desktop (Ubuntu 18.04 LTS) by Mrsinghparmar, licensed CC BY-SA 4.0

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