A Minimalist’s Social Networking

I’ve had an off-and-on relationship with Facebook since it was just for college students from select schools. The first time I got it, I was a wide-eyed high school graduate about to start life in a new state. I didn’t want to lose touch with all of my friends from high school, so when one of my friends showed me this new thing called “the facebook”, I signed up.

When I was a junior in college I stopped seeing the appeal. I wasn’t really friends with any of my “friends” on Facebook (they dropped the “the” in front of their name by then) except for about three people, who I talked to and saw in real life. All of my friends from college I talked to and saw in real life as well, and I decided to cut my ties with Facebook at the time because it felt a little redundant.

I signed up for it again after graduating college. I moved to Tennessee, another place where I knew absolutely no people. Since I didn’t want to lose touch with my college friends, the same cycle repeated. I only keep in touch with about five people from college, and (like before) I see and talk to them in real life, making Facebook redundant again. I cut Facebook out of my life for the second (possibly final?) time about a year ago and haven’t felt the loss.

That’s the feeling I get from a lot of my minimalistic endeavors though: I realize once I get rid of something that I feel lighter, and I find out that I didn’t really “need” that thing in the first place. Not only that, but getting rid of Facebook freed up some time for me as well since I don’t compulsively check it to see if anyone’s posted a funny article or something for me to waste time on.

Losing touch with Facebook also makes my social life feel a little more natural. There’s a theory that humans can only maintain relationships with about 200 people. If true, that means that a friends list of anything over that amount is mental clutter that is impossible to maintain. For me, that clutter is just as bad as an overflowing closet of things I’ll never use. The people who add value to my lives add value with or without Facebook, which is a good indicator that Facebook isn’t really relevant to me anymore. If we value a relationship with someone, we shouldn’t need Facebook to maintain that relationship.

Facebook can be used for good, but in my experience the “good” is harder and harder to find. For me, it was mostly a vehicle for drama between my friends and between my family. (Relevant XKCD.) I think that social networking of a general nature should happen face-to-face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the internet and what it does for making connections between people with specific interests (like minimalism!). But “friendships” of the vague and nonspecific kind that I’ve always had and seen on Facebook seem to be counterproductive.

What I am curious about, though, is whether or not Facebook can still be a useful tool for minimalists to connect with each other. It seems like most people use Twitter or something else, but Facebook does still have a place for the time being. While it probably won’t see any light in my personal life anytime soon, there could be hope for its use in my professional, online life!

Wallets and Desks

When I moved into my house I found a really cool purple desk in the back room. I only need one desk, so I decided to sell my old desk and keep this quirky purple desk. A big part of the reason I favored the purple desk is because I can sit at the center of it. My previous desk had drawers on one side, so you had to sit to the left of center. This was sometimes frustrating when using large monitors or test equpiment, since I could only put things on one side of whatever thing I was working on. At lest I’m not left-handed!

Anyway, I finally sold the old desk yesterday. The picture above is all of the junk that came out of the desk’s four drawers. Granted, some of that mess consists of tools that I use all the time, tax documents, and writing implements, but a lot of it is just needless junk. For some reason there was a VHS tape in there! This definitely reinforces my view that the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is not a very good maxim to live by. Just because we put something in a place where it isn’t seen doesn’t help us live any simpler. In fact, it exacerbates the problem because the mess and junk is lurking, ready to strike and frustrate us at any moment!

Putting the desk situation aside for a minute, the other thing that I’ve been considering lately is whether or not it’s possible to live without carrying a wallet. I recently stopped carrying keys (special wiring on my motorcycle and a keypad deadbolt on the front door) which was great because I don’t get a hole worn in my pants from a keychain anymore. The wallet problem seems to be a little tougher to tackle, but I had to throw out a pair of pants the other day because my wallet wore a hole through them. I also hate having to carry a wallet when I go surfing or out for a bike ride. This madness must stop! I’m just at a loss for ways to accomplish this, but I’ll keep brainstorming!

Links for Saturday, 5/16/15!

If I find interesting things throughout the week, I’ll go ahead and share them! Other people sometimes have great things to say.

Let’s Chat About Simplifying by Joshua Fields Millburn, The Minimalists. For me, The Minimalists are the face of minimalism, and give the most concise and clear reasons for why minimalism is a good thing and how to work it into your life. Basically, identify which things add value to your life, even if those “things” aren’t things at all. Get rid of everything else. This radio interview is a great intro to minimalism if you haven’t heard of it before, but also gets into some nuanced views on the movement.

21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own by Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist. I’m an engineer, and as such can really appreciate using numbers to drive a point home. Joshua points out 21 facts that show us exactly what is has been going on with our stuff.

Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to the Caribbean and Scoop Ice Cream by Noelle Hancock, Esquire. Noelle explains that you don’t have to have a busy life crammed with a career and lots of stuff to live a happy life. After all, at that point, what are you living for? Noelle basically turned her entire life into the vacation she was always dreaming about in snowy New York, and seems to be the better for it.

Is Buying Better than Renting? by Mr. Frugalwoods, Frugalwoods. I recently did some research on my own blog post about home ownership, and this was one of the most objective takes on the issue I found. Which side do you find yourself on? Is it the side you want?

Bonus! What I’m listening to this week:

Photo: I went to Santa Cruz, California to surf a month ago. It’s beautiful!