Just sitting there

just sitting there

“People aren’t taking time for mental reflection anymore…they aren’t slowing down and stopping…they’re not just sitting there. When you have no external input—that is a time when there is a creation of self, when you can try and figure out who you really are. And then once you do that, you can figure out how to present [yourself] in a legitimate way, instead of just dealing with everything as it comes in.”

Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist
2010 TED Talk: We are all cyborgs now

I get annoyed by [usually older] people who make broad generalizations about younger generations who are too wrapped up in their phones and social media and the interweb. Yes, there is some truth to the stereotype, but much of the criticism is based on assumptions, such as:

  • All “young people” use technology.
  • Only young people use technology.
  • Young people use technology for frivolous reasons
  • Digital experiences and “real-life” experiences are mutually exclusive.
  • Real-life experiences are better than digital interactions.

I’m not going to address those fallacies in this blog, but I wanted to share them as a backdrop against Amber Case’s quote, above. The difference between Case’s criticism and most of the criticism I overhear is that Case is pointing out a real consequence—and it’s not a consequence of simply being young or of using your iPhone a lot.

It’s a consequence of too much input, from any source.

No matter how old you are, if you don’t have some time for “just sitting there,” you reduce your opportunities for defining yourself. Too much external input—whether from Facebook, or reality TV, or senior group outings, or sports clubs—prevents us from knowing ourselves and developing ourselves.

Too busy

busyI confess that I’m too busy right now. I don’t have time for “just sitting there” with my thoughts, and I think my writing is suffering.

I have about 42 blog posts in “draft” stage because I haven’t had time to just sit there and fully develop the thinking that prompted them. They remain half-formed, incomplete ideas. I don’t want to give up on them because I think they are important and potentially interesting. But I can’t release them into the world in their current state.

So for now, they are just sitting there.


Revisiting Why (do I) blog?

why blog

why blogAlthough I first posted this blog five years ago, I believe it remains true and relevant today. If you’re still not sure what a “blog” is, this blog’s for you!

Why (do I) blog?

originally published October 20, 2010

Many of you who subscribe to this LifeLines blog are rather new to blogging. You’re not sure what “blogs” are, or why you need them, or how to engage with them. So when I saw this video in a social media class, I thought, “Cool. I want to share this with my subscribers.” (The good people at Common Craft put together this video—and they gave me permission to use it here. Check out the other “in plain English” videos they’ve created to explain a variety of topics!)

Helping you share your story

The tagline for my blog (and my business) is “helping you share your story.” Those five words are what this blog is all about. My story is that I help other people share their stories—in books, on business cards, through fundraising letters, on their own blogs or websites, however that story-telling will be most appropriate and most effective. Throughout the process, I’m both discovering and living out my part in God’s larger story.

As this little video says, there are millions of stories to share. And many of them are worth sharing! But people often need help with the sharing.

I like being in a position where I can provide that help.

What do you think? Did this little video help? Which questions did it answer for you? Which questions remain unanswered?


Why I’m changing web hosts

FatCow review

FatCow reviewFor several years, this blog and website have been hosted at FatCow.com. FatCow was recommended to me by a fellow blogger, and for a long time I was very happy with the service. I even recommended it to others.

No longer.

Customer “service”

There had been a few occasions when my interactions with customer service gave me the feeling that I was talking to a trainee. Phone help was better than Chat help, but even that began to decline.

Tech “support”

Then, when my site randomly disappeared a few months ago, and FatCow tech support suggested I had a plugin conflict (though my plugins had not changed in weeks), I started researching better options. I found a well-reviewed alternate, but I knew that making the switch would require a significant time investment, so I delayed making the switch.

But this past week saw me yelling at my laptop, waiting l-o-o-o-o-n-n-n-g minutes for a page to load anytime I tried to save a change in the post I was writing. Often I’d get a message saying my connection had been lost. When I asked tech support what was going on, he suggested that upgrading to a more expensive plan would solve the problem.


A host like FatCow specializes in appealing to low-traffic, low-budget sites like mine. I don’t have thousands of clients, and I don’t sell hundreds of products, so I’ve been able to make do with a low-cost host.

The problem with low-cost hosts is that they make their money by selling volume. The more people they cram onto their servers, the more profit they make. And the less attention and bandwidth each customer gets.

Moving to Inmotion

So my research led me to Inmotion Hosting, and I am ready to make the switch. I don’t know yet how long the transition will take or what the fall-out will be. (There’s always fall-out.) But I’m frustrated enough with FatCow to finally do it.

If you have any advice for me, please post a comment. Here’s hoping for minimal down-time!

Digital obituary options

Last week’s postDigital Obituaries raised the question of what I should do with my digital assets after I die. And no, I still don’t have a satisfactory answer to that question.

But a related issue is this: How do you let your online friends know when you’ve passed on?

Your online friends might be people you’ve never met in real life—blog subscribers, fellow members of LinkedIn Groups, Twitter followers, Facebook friends. Your relationship with them is real, though it’s different from your other relationships. So you would hate to just disappear and leave them wondering. And it probably won’t occur to your family or other survivors to contact people in your online life.

So what you need is a “digital obituary.” And there are a few interesting options available.

Facebook options (you can’t plan ahead)

Facebook digital obituary optionsOne of last week’s commenters mentioned a friend who died three years ago. The woman’s sister decided to keep her Facebook profile “live.” This commenter said, “It’s creepy when a post from her appears on my newsfeed, knowing that she is gone.”

That does seem a little creepy to me, and I’m not sure what the sister’s purpose is in posting on her dead sister’s behalf. It’s probably more common for family members to either let the page go silent, or post a notice on the deceased’s timeline letting visitors know what happened.

In fact, Facebook does give you some options in case of death, as explained in this About.com article:

“Facebook actually has an FAQ section dedicated to the three options people have with a deceased individual’s account: memorializing the account, requesting to delete the account, or downloading the contents of the account, and then having it deleted.”

So that’s nice. It’s nice to have options. But all these options are available only after you die. That is, you can’t make arrangements with Facebook ahead of time to delete your page if there has been no activity on it for, say, 21 days. You have to give someone the responsibility to make this decision for you after you’re gone.

Blog options (a little planning)

blog options for digital obituaryBlogger Ronni Bennett has done some thinking about online relationships, and she posted this blog about her plans for letting people know when she’s gone. She says,

“We leave last wills and testaments to dispose of our belongings. Some people leave instructions for their funerals and memorial services, choosing music to be played and food to be served. …And so, we should leave a final blog entry too—with clear instructions, needed passwords, and other information on how to post it for those who may not be familiar with blogging software.”

Ronni has written a final blog post, and she updates it occasionally. What I don’t know is who will post that blog for her—or how she chose that person.

Google (plan ahead and modify if needed)

google's digital obituary optionNow Google has the right idea. They allow you to make plans ahead of time for all your Google assets—Gmail, YouTube, Picasa, and all those other programs that are in the Google suite. The name of this service is Inactive Account Manager. So when your accounts become inactive because you’ve become inactive (i.e., dead), the service allows you to manage what happens. Google even sends you a reminder email every three months to let you know what your settings are and give you the option to change them.

I went ahead and told Google to email all my family members if my account becomes inactive for three months. I supplied the email addresses, and I wrote a message. When Google sends the emails, they will include a link where my family can download my account data. If I change my mind later, I can add different emails, rewrite the message, or simply tell Google to delete everything so my survivors don’t have to worry about it.

Go ahead

Making plans for a digital obituary is a way to show some consideration to your online friends—and to your real-life survivors who may be tasked with notifying people they don’t even know exist. So at least think about one or more of the options listed above. But also consider this quote left by another commenter on last week’s post:

“We all would like to think we will live to a “ripe old age,” whatever that is, but the truth is, “Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom. But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here.” (Psalm 103:15–16, The Message) However the next verse assures us: “God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present with all who fear Him.” That is what keeps me from obsessing about what will happen when I am not here or able to function any longer.”