TOBY NG

Digital Minimalism: Conclusion

It's been about 40 days of a digital decluttering and it has been fairly good overall. I think I have found some compromises with social media but I will also keep some of the habits I was able to develop.

I found that when I stopped myself from "liking" or "commenting" on posts and scrolling through news feeds, I saved a ton of time for other things. Although managing the additional free time was not easy at first, setting a new system in place really helped in the end. I think it really helped me connect with people in person a lot better instead of having things "count" because I like/comment things. But to be fair, I don't get to post much either and it matters much less about how many likes/comments/shares I get.

I actually found that posting was more for myself, and that it creates a digital archive of what I have done and how far along I have progressed in the past. I find that I spend more time checking on my Facebook memories ("on this day") and though it feels like I have changed a lot from before, sometimes I'm not so sure based on what I have posted from before. I sure complained a lot back then (and I hope I complain less), but it's interesting to see a moment of thought captured in time, especially if you now know the outcome of it. For example, it would be a really good exercises to journal your thoughts before an important match, and perhaps after. Then someday down the road, you can go back and see if you still think the same way. Is that way of thinking useful, or is it not? Has it changed, or has it not?

Let's take a brief digression into performance psychology, and though I do not claim to be an expert, we can just consider this to be a reflective process on how I view performance. You can disagree with me at any point or in anything I say, and I almost encourage it. If there is some fault in my logic, it needs to be scrutinized. Even if the logic is sound, it can still be wrong. So take this and anything I say "with a grain of salt". The difference between how one trains and competes is pretty much psychological. If you train well, but compete poorly, then it's usually a psychological problem. Why should one thing be so much different from the other, otherwise? If you can play well in practice games, it should be the same in competition, because it's pretty much exactly the same. The usual arguments might include environmental factors, but then that would easily be solved with practicing in different environmental conditions.

Of course there are some other factors: maybe you practice with the same people all the time and your opponent is someone you've never played before. Then you need to rethink your assumptions and understand what other people can be capable of. Adjusting shouldn't be that different unless your training group is really weak. However, in training, you should understand whether your quality of shot would be enough for your level of competition. If you can out-drive your opponents in practice, have a back up solution in case your opponents have better drives, or even if you're having a bad day and it's not working. Ultimately, if the training does not reflect competition conditions, then what are you training for? Perhaps that may be the first fix: assess whether training conditions are reflective of competition.

There is some ownership required though: are you doing your part to train as best as you can for competition. Otherwise, what is the point of training? To improve skills for training? If that's the case, then you have little to worry about. If you never need to compete, then you never need to worry. It's also easy to complain. That's usually the first thing most people do. I mean, that's also what I did based on my Facebook memories in the past. It's a default thing for many of us to do. It's easier to blame someone else than ourselves. However, it doesn't make it a good solution though. If you really think about it, complaining is a way to nudge someone else to change. Is it easier to change someone else, or to change yourself (or at least your perspective on things)? What is in your control? Are they in your control, or are you under your control? Realizing this is a powerful way to stop complaining. I know people say gratitude is something you can try, but I think that's the next step. The first step is to take ownership because gratitude can sometimes make you skip this important step. It's like thinking: "Well, despite everything, I'm grateful to get to compete," which is a great example of gratitude, but it doesn't solve that problem of personal accountability.

There are also extremes to personal accountability where you would take the blame for everything, even things outside of your own control. That is destructive in itself because you are not correctly identifying what is in your control and what is not. Although there are exceptions to this, such as in Extreme Ownership where you take responsibility of the overall mission or task as the team leader, it doesn't make sense for someone not in that position to accept responsibility for everything because that is not healthy either. It's a battle of ego on both sides of the continuum, but taking responsibility for everything if you are not in the leadership position means that you should have been the leader and are capable of managing the entire mission/task by yourself. That is unreasonable and not a healthy way of looking at things either. 

If there is one thing to consider from this digression is this: do not let your fear of letting someone down overcome your own personal performance. In any partner event or team event, it can be a great fear of letting the team down. But often, this is something that hasn't happened yet. There is STILL a chance to salvage whatever you can. Fearing that you will let yourself, your partner, your coach, your team, your pet, who/whatever it might be is a condition in the future that hasn't happened yet, except you are well on your way of making it a reality. Some people might think that this is easier said than done and I would agree with you 100%. It is easier to be said. So now you know. Now go practice. Go train. Take responsibility and work on that part of your performance psychology if it is a problem. Find a sport psychologist or mental performance consultant and start training. That is part of the lesson because if you had a shot that wasn't very good, you would practice it. But if your mindset isn't correct, do you practice that? Communication is very important because this is something that is hard to capture because we can see shots, but we cannot see thoughts. Though there may be signs from body language and micro-expressions, we generally cannot read minds. Until then, it's something that needs to be discussed, preferably with people who understand the process. We all come from different backgrounds, so we would all probably have our own unique way of thinking. That's okay. If anything, that is expected.

So, that digression went longer than expected, but that's okay. Sometimes things don't go according to plan so you adapt to the current situation and reflect on the process when you can. I suppose I need to slowly reassess how I use social media as well. I will continue to use Facebook and Instagram, but mainly just to post something significant. My Instagram rules would likely be to post something that I would like to see someday in the future, capturing a unique memory or accomplishment. No stories, no pictures of food, and limited scrolling. If Dunbar's number proves to be correct (i.e. cognitive limit of ~150 people in a social network), then most of us have far too many people that we can follow efficiently anyway. I can re-download the app when I want to post, otherwise, I would have to use the web version of Instagram which doesn't allow me to comment or check DM's, so that will also prevent people from contacting me there anyway.

For Facebook, I will need to keep it for Messenger and for Facebook Page handling purposes. Also, it's good to review old memories for things I might have said in the past that may not stand up to today's sensitiveness, but that would probably be a rant/complaint that will need to be deleted/hidden in the future, so let's save me some time there. I will also share the occasional blog post so most of you may actually be reading this through a Facebook Page link. Nice.

Overall, the digital declutter has been fairly successful. Without the need to scroll or post very often, it becomes easier to eat at a restaurant and put away my phone. It allows me to engage with the people I'm eating with much better and it helps me to be in the moment. A couple of days ago, I saw a father and daughter (I think) having dinner the table beside Carmen and I. I think the only words they said to each other was about ordering their food. She was on her phone the entire time. It makes me wonder if that was what I was like in the past, maybe not to that extreme, but enough that it counts as a bad habit. Although I have no idea what their background was and I'm not judging her behaviour, I am only using the context in my own life, and it would be something that I wouldn't want to do. I'm not saying that this is the only way, but rather it is a possibility. The choice is always yours.

So for the next while, we'll see how long these new rules last for. 40 days is a fairly long time, though the research for a new habit is supposedly 66 days (according to some research). It's fairly good timing as it's crunch time in getting some things done, including my Masters, taxes, and other Badminton BC work, but I'm happy I have learned to create new habits to help with productivity. If anything, it's not creating something new, but eliminating something deficient. Less is more, so they say. 

I was actually suppose to be writing about taxes, but that will have to be for the next post. Let's just say understanding taxes is a good thing, and all bad things that come with something can be viewed as a tax. For example, bad drivers are a tax on driving. Although we can minimize taxes, we can never eliminate them completely. But more to come later, probably after I do my taxes.

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