Losing Face (book)

silver iphone

Originally inspired by a friend who has had a complete social media detox for the past several years; I decided to do without Facebook in February. I have a week to go. February is a good month to do a month-long challenge, especially in a non-leap year. Why 28 days seems eminently more doable than 30 or 31 is a mystery, after all, it’s only two days shorter. 

It turns out that I have also more or less given up Instagram as well. I have “allowed” myself a peek at one crafter’s daily-ish embroidery post because I am copying their work. (Full disclosure I let them know, and they were cool with that). YouTube has been restricted to how-to videos.  I have been keeping in contact with friends and family via the Facebook Messenger app and I have been posting here. I don’t class this blog as consumptive social media as I am creating the content. A blog post triggers an automatic Facebook post on my Old Chook Enterprises account, so if you’ve seen that, I haven’t been cheating! 

Filling in the time.

While it has not been a complete social media freeze, it has been a very sizable reduction in hours spent scrolling with little purpose. I have filled the time with the aforementioned copied embroidery task, craft activities including making some little notebooks and crocheting some reusable dish cloths and going for extra walks after dinner. After dark, I have watched Netflix and read. Netflix is probably not a good replacement in terms of reducing screen time but heh! All in all, I have found it easier than I expected.

Some free-form embroidery

Fun Factors

My inspiration also came from Catherine’s Price’s new book The Power of Fun. This book delves into the differences between true fun and fake fun. It roundly criticises the “fun” that social media portrays. This sort of fun; comparing ourselves to others, buying stuff we don’t need and generally immersing ourselves in an unconnected world, is no good for us. Catherine suggests we look for experiences that offer us (real) connection, flow and playfulness. Only activities that combine these three fundamentals will be “true fun”. 

Catherine asks you to look back on the last time you had REAL fun and examine if these fundamentals (or fun factors)  were present. Then she recommends you try to incorporate activities that elicit these same feelings into your life. For me, the last time I remember being in true flow and having a blast was during the bookbinding course I did last year. I was absorbed, I was with other people and I was playing with making stuff. I should look for these sorts of activities to boost my fun meter. By that, I don’t just mean bookbinding courses, but rather broadening it to activities with the same sorts of features. For me, that would be learning a new skill, in a group, to produce something useful.

Reducing the number of apps vying for my time.

Reducing phone use in general. 

Catherine’s other book How to break up with your phone in 30 days, is also a good easy read and once again offers lots of sensible insights into the insidious nature of phones and how they steal our attention. I know I am overly dependent on my phone. I get palpitations if I leave it at home. This can’t be a good thing. Although it’s not sensible or even possible to return to a completely analogue world on my own, I decided it was time I reduced my dependence on my phone. While I was in reduced social media mode, I deleted a whole bunch of apps I don’t use (or rather don’t really need) and restricted the home screen to twenty apps which I deemed essential. I reasoned that if I could get the information another way or use an analogue version, the app would be relegated to a less accessible screen or deleted entirely. For instance, I hid the Wallet app because I could use my card instead. I moved the Safari and Chrome apps because if I really want to look something up, I can go use my computer instead. The idea was to reduce the number of times I reach for my phone without really thinking about it. There may be some reintroduction of apps I deemed nonessential like the Shopping List app. I originally thought I could just use a bit of paper and write a list, but I left that at home! 

What’s next?

Will I go back to Facebook in March? Yes, probably. My friends are spread out around Australia and the world and it’s the best way to keep in contact. My return will come with some caveats which may be difficult for me to control. I’d like to say I will restrict myself to posts from people I actually know. But Mark Zuckerburg has other plans for my time.

These days you have to wade through so many posts from people/companies trying to sell you stuff. Pages and pages!  And even then I am not seeing posts from all my friends, only those I am allowed to via Facebook’s algorithms. (Speaking of algorithms,  if you haven’t watched Social Dilemma make sure you do!) 

Ergghhhhhh! It’s a trap! Perhaps March will be social media free too! 

Know your currawongs

Currawongs vs Magpies

At a recent family gathering where physical distancing was strictly enforced, my dear Uncle pointed out that in my blog post about the Victorian Fortifications at Middle Head, I had made a mistake. I had incorrectly identified magpies as currawongs.

This is a grave error and my family of amateur but deadly serious twitchers were somewhat disturbed by my rookie faux pas.  There was a great deal of comment about my journalistic credentials and accusations of “fake news”.

I, therefore, apologise most humbly for my error and all future posts which include the identification of native Australian birds will be subject to strict quality checking by the newly established Family Ornithological Committee.

I’d like to thank my most esteemed Uncle for not calling me out publicly and highlighting my error in the comments section.


These are magpies, not currawongs.

Check out the cheeky magpies at this site

This video from the Magpie Whisperer.

Magpies have a lighter coloured beak and extensive white markings. There are significant regional differences between magpies. Juveniles are grey. They should also not be confused with pee-wees which are much smaller. Currawongs, on the other hand, have a black beak and only a small amount of white on their under-tail area. I don’t have a photo of a currawong or pee-wees to share.

Furious Fiction 9 – March 2020

Wentworth Street, Port Kembla

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Gosh, the First Friday sure does come around quickly bringing another chance to enter Furious Fiction, the AWC’s monthly competition. As I’ve said before this is a fun activity with a terrific prize. You can read about it on their website.

Basically it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for March were:

  • Your story must include a PERSON IN DISGUISE.
  • Your story must take place in a PARK.
  • Your story must include a MIRROR.

I made three starts to this story. The first attempt was about a private eye trying to catch a wandering spouse, then it morphed into an internet dating story before I finally decided to run with the same story arc as last month’s story. It had to stand alone and not rely on the previous episode to make sense. I have already hatched out the next episode and hope I can bend April’s criteria to suit.

Here is this month’s Furious Fiction entry, submitted at 9:55 PM Saturday night. 488 words.

Clark in the Dark

Miriam was swinging her legs under the park bench. 

“Stop fidgeting! You’ll blow our cover!”

She sighed deeply and went back to pulling at the fringing on her poncho. 

“How long do we have to sit here?”

Clark ignored her. 

Miriam shuffled along the bench, tapped her feet on the ground, stood up, sat down, adjusted her mohawk wig, looked at her watch and sighed again. 

“Gov, this is ridiculous. We’ve already hit our quota for the month. Anyway, don’t you think THIS is dangerously bordering on entrapment?”

Miriam waved her hands over the “this”. An orange and white crocheted poncho made from acrylic yarn, white lace-up boots and tight orange velour pants. 

“Miriam…” he said “It’s not about the quota. It’s about the law. We don’t just stop upholding the law because we hit our quota! We don’t just let the fifty-first murderer off the hook because we only needed fifty for the quota!”

Specks of white saliva were gathering in the creases of his lips.  

“No, Miriam, we seek out those poxy crims wherever they are! ”

When DCI Clark Weston was working up to a full spitty episode, DC Miriam Hensen knew it was time to take a backward step.

“We have a duty to society! We have to stop these scum corrupting our youth with their grooming. If you can’t stand the heat Miriam, get out of the sweatshop!”

“Gov, I joined the Unit so I could create change! I expected undercover work to be more than sitting in Hyde Park in a clumsy disguise trapping lost souls. I didn’t think I’d be using a bag full of second-hand clothes from Double Bay Vinnies to entrap the disadvantaged.”

“Don’t come the liberal social justice disadvantaged angle with me, Miriam! These people DO have choices! They can look in the mirror before they leave home you …”

He stopped mid-sentence, “Look!  There, case in point!”

There, coming towards them was a travesty of colour. A man in a blue shirt, green pants and no belt. 

“A Code 10! Bet you’ve never seen THAT before!“ Clark whispered excitedly “Blue and green with nothing in between!”

Miriam was shocked. The man’s eyes were bulging like a junkie craving a fix. Clark pushed her towards him.

“Remember, he has to agree to buy!”

She sashayed up to Mr Blue-Green, “Wanna look at my stash fella,” she cooed, swishing her fringing and holding the bag out provocatively.

“Yeah babe, if you’ve got any sequins, I’ll buy the lot!” 

And just then, just as he committed to the sale, DCI Weston of the Fashion Police, lept up and cuffed him. 

“You’re under arrest  for a Code 10 Violation – Catastrophic Colour Clash.” Clarke shouted, “You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say may be used as evidence.”

Clark looked across at Miriam with smug satisfaction. “Never forget our motto, Miriam. Dress Proud. THAT’S what you signed up for.”