Forced To Observe


My name is Michael and I write in order to figure out what I'm thinking.

If you'd like to talk, you can reach me at

This year, I will be much more aware of my social group an environment. One's environment has a significant effect on their behavior and lifestyle.

If someone asked me what is the easiest and quickest way to get in shape, my response would be to find some in-shape friends. Same with any habit, lifestyle, or circumstance you want to create.

This year I want to push myself and move towards things that are more aligned with who I am. I want to live a more activity driven lifestyle.

A lot of the things I say, the way I say them, and why I say them don't actually come from me. Their source is not from my individual experience—I hear authorities on a subject, and reuse what they say. Or I see others do something, and in order to feel connected, I do it too. Or I feel the need to argue with them about what they do. Or I feel the need to outdo them.

I think the one true reason we use social media is the need to be social. But there are other, more long-term ways to accomplish. So, I am planning on not using social media for at least the first 6 months of 2019.

My fears in doing this are the following:

  1. I will be missing out on things I would prefer not to miss out on.
  2. I will become irrelevant.
  3. I will set this goal and fail.
  4. I won't have the will to accomplish this.
  5. I will be unable to set definite lines—should I also not use YouTube?
  6. I've heard that in the beginning there is an increase in depression or anxiety.
  7. The Main One: I'll feel alone and disconnected.

The Benefits

  1. During moments of boredom or stress, if one doesn't scramble for a cure, they are rewarded with a piece of themselves.
  2. I will obtain a perspective I otherwise would never have.
  3. I imagine that when I'm 80, this wouldn't be something I regret doing.
  4. When I want to use social media, what I really want is a human connection. I will be replacing social media with volunteering, classes, hangouts, and dates.
  5. I will need to express myself through my original avenues—music, writing, joking.

I am going to make sticking to my plan easier by having a system in place. Being systematic, and not situational (which would leave action up to impulse), should make it more likely to do what I intend to.

System 1. Connect my account to social media outlets, so I will be providing output without having to take the input from the accounts. I think people will be able to comment on these articles if they want. 2. Change the password and change the email/phone number of social accounts to my friend's information. 3. Have it written why I'm doing this: Life is short, we don't know the effect of technology (although honestly, we all know it's mostly not good), I have goals that social media is standing in the way of (close relationships, a fulfilling career, music I'd like to write, books I'd like to read). 4. When feeling the urge, read your WHY, and remember it's socializing and human connection you want, and not to thumb your phone. 1. Remember the urge to use social media is actually just the desire to connect. So go connect. 5. On occasion, read a book or article on the problems of social media to reinforce the purpose of this. 6. For using YouTube, open an incognito window and search. Do not be logged in. YouTube will suggest a lot of videos for you.

Love, togetherness, intimacy, friendship, fulfillment,: are all threats to social media.

One addiction fights another for scarce resources: your eyeballs, your time, your money.

So the best way to combat social media is to include love, community, and friendship into your life.

I realized why I would be so afraid to delete my social media accounts.

Things like Instagram and Twitter are records of my thinking and life. Part of me didn't want to delete them because there is a non-explicit belief that I would have these accounts forever. That they are permanent channels to pump full of content from “Michael's Life”. Then later in life I will flip through my accounts like a modern day photo album or home video.

Then I thought about my Myspace page. You know, I'd trade my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to recover my Myspace page from 2008. I'd be interested to see what was going on in middle school and high school. What was I thinking about back then? How did I talk? Who was in my top 8? What profile theme did I use? What comments did we post on each other's profiles?

My Myspace page is long gone and I don't know how to recover it. But I'm not anxious about the fact that I won't ever see it again. All those thoughts, photos, and writings that 12-18 year-old Michael created are long gone.

So if I'm not so heartbroken about MySpace being gone, then Instagram and Twitter shouldn't be a problem.

50 years from now, it's very possible no one will be on these sites anyhow. New ones will have taken their place. This seems impossible to some people, but there are endless examples of businesses that seemed bulletproof in their era, but crumbled at the hand of time.

I realized that the only thing we can hold onto are our actions.

I've deleted my Instagram, Reddit, and Tumblr so far. Twitter and Facebook are my last standing social media apps if you don't count YouTube.

I don't want to be someone who complains about things and never does anything about it. I don't want to arrive to the end of my life and wonder how else I could have spent that time.

“My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Today I ran 3 miles without any music or podcast. Just the thought of doing so was uncomfortable. I use the music to create a buffer between me and the discomfort. It helps make 30 minutes of putting one foot in front of the other more bearable.

In this day and age it's easy to come to the end of life shielding ourselves from the truth the entire time. Anything can be used and a barrier to reality—music, food, alcohol, beliefs, other people, video games, books.

If you believe you can't do something, why do you believe you can't? What's the story you tell yourself? Is that story benefitting you?

We create bullshit stories to make the state of things more tolerable—”This is just how I am. Doing that would be way too hard. Other people can, but not me.”

These are stories that make reality more bearable. But you can come up with stories that make reality more bearable AND actually benefit you—”I need to see this through for my life to be better. I have yet to realize my potential. Do I have anything better to do?”

For the entire month of December I have been planning goals for 2019. Another goal will be to not block out my mind with things like music, podcasts, or anything else.


My #1 goal for 2019 is “To know that life happens for you, not to you.”

This sounds like blinding optimism—”Ignore all the bad things and they'll just go away.”

It's not:

“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”

  • Henry Miller


My biggest problem is that I think I shouldn't have them.

In an attempt to salvage what's left of my social skills and my overall fulfillment, I will be taking a break from social media from 1/01/19 – 6/01/10.

After that period I will assess whether it's worth rejoining any platform. I've expressed this to some people who's rebuttal is usually “everything is okay in moderation”. But what good is social media in moderation? Does a moderate amount of social media increase one's sense of well-being?

Many say that social media is so new that we don't know how it will affect us. From where I'm standing, I've seen enough evidence.

Part of why I feel reluctant to delete a social media account is because it is one's creation. It's like a painter burning their art or a writer deleting their files.

But I don't like the game of having the best social media account. I do like the game (regardless of how bad at it I am) of writing the best song. I like the competition in art because I willingly take it on. The competition in social media on the other hand, is like being a prisoner thrown into the arena with a lion.


The guy next to me at this coffee shop seized up and folded forward. On his way down he face-planted onto the communal bench I was sitting on and split open his lip. About a quarter cup of blood made its way out of the gash. A quarter cup might not seem like a lot (or maybe it does), but if you were to smear it on a wooden floor of a coffee shop (and some on your hands and face) it would be more than necessary.

I felt guilty and grateful. Guilt overcame because I felt like I could have caught him on his way down and guided him away from the bench. About 10 seconds before, out of my periphery, I noticed something odd—he was oriented in my direction and slightly shaking. Then he fell out of his chair and onto the bench.

I'm grateful that I have my health. This man obviously had some physiological handicaps. I can't imagine not being able do to something as simple as going to a coffee shop without the worry that I might randomly need medical attention.

With all the possible diseases, conditions and injuries that are possible in life, every day that I have my health is statistically a miracle.

We're encouraged to pick a career before we're legally permitted to buy a beer.

And we're not allowed to buy a beer at that age because our decision-making capabilities cannot be trusted ...