Slowdown, squirrel

Posted: 15 December, 2018 Category: coding environment Tagged: wellness

Turns out net terminal machine has very little RAM and only one measly serial bus... so natch, there's quite a bit of thrashing going on.

A huge realization

All throughout school, high school, college, University... I never had a problem focusing. I also read a lot. (I was also considerably less stressed than I have been for the last year or so, but I'm going to take stress out of the equation and focus on... well, the issue of focus).

I could go for hours staring at one piddly little thing, doing something over and over again until I got it right. I would buy tons of books and get through them. So many topics held my interest and I really believed there was something new out there to learn, especially from books. I wasn't glued to the internet. I had a telly and I watched it. I went to movies. I went out and did things and dined out and went dancing. In short, the mindbody had a reasonably diverse range of activities to partake in, with reasonable amounts of time to spent on each. Any mental tasks invoked by these activities were also well-proportioned in terms of time and variety. Lastly, although I was always somewhat of a late-waking night owl, I still generally went to bed at a reasonable time and got OK sleep.

Contrast to now:

  • I don't get through my reading.
  • Physical activities have ground to a shuddering halt due to the fact that I'm in the middle of a giant life-pivot (also, winter, OK?).
  • All my media intake is internet-based, mediated by smartphones and computers. And we all know net media: frenetic, ever-changing, deep vortices of attention-hog.
  • I stay up HELLA late. And no amount of warm-hued night-lighting on these digital screens will prevent them from robbing you of proper sleep.
  • I haven't watched telly for years and even netflix dissipates my interest long before I've picked something to watch. The key here, I'm guessing, is that tv/movies/radio (read: traditional media) are very one-way, uncontrollable flows of information. You really are a passive, captive audience for as long as whatever the running time is. I don't like being a passive captive audience. I generally don't like being a passive captive anything. This is why the net has been winning. You can always breakStream(), joinStream(), ad infinitum.

The fallout

As a result of these developments, and because I have the triple curses of:

  • a small working memory (or so I suspect)
  • an explore/forage style of information discovery (which is actually great for synthesis btw, but easily hijacked by infinite scrolls and hyperlinks)
  • a period of extreme stress (a large transient)... doesn't take much for me to hit a wall of dense, indecisive, absent-minded fog.

So, I have decided, ESPECIALLY after reading a review on research papers to date (on the topic of the net, tech and social media monkeying with our brains) that I should really pay attention to how I spend my time. Specifically, how I spend my compute time. (And, I have lost the damn link to the research. It was off a google phone SERP... can't seem to retrace my steps. Oh well... Sorry).

An intervention

I've decided to try and mitigate these effects as follows:

  1. I should exercise more. (Tho, the bar on this will have to be as low as apartment dancing).
  2. Eating well and sleeping well. Well, I eat, but squirrel brain burns everything. So I guess I just have to eat more? OK. Sleep is one I can do simply by not going to bed at 4 or 5am. Just have to watch these things...
  3. Last but most important, is cutting down on digital media and replacing it with more traditional media. Especially books. It should, I think, force me to slow down, and process less concepts at a time. I've dug out a few books. I'm restarting William Gibson's "Zero History" tonight (now yesternight... cos I'm starting to realise when I commit a post is not necessarily when I get round to publishing).

It may not have escaped the astute amongst you that such things as meditation and yoga are rather glaringly missing. To which I say, give me a break OK? One step at a kottam time. To be revisted...

Progress to date

I've tried a mild adjustment for 48 to 36 hours now and my head is already better. Definitely something to keep up. The next battle seems to be forcing myself to take a break instead of OCD'ing until I finish something.

I'll report back more as time goes on, with data, if I can.

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             [] unplugged