The Hubble Telescope effect
Thesis: on social networks, everyone is looking into the past.
When we look at images from space, thousands of light-years away, the images we see are thousands of light years in the past. It's as far from real-time as we can get:
"To get information from the center of our own galaxy out to Earth, you have to wait over 26 thousand years. That is no longer a length of time I can wait for an email reply. Information that reaches the Earth from the center of our galaxy is as up to date as it can be, but it’s reporting on changes that happened 26,000 years prior." (Forbes).
Sometimes, we don't have enough data to know what we're looking at. We compose a picture of distant things using patterns & data points.
Our own communication is just as bad: we see carefully crafted truths online, and doctored photos. People’s best attempts at presenting themselves & their ideas. We hear this a lot. Flutters of everyone speaking all at once, online, waiting for you to tune in.
The title of the Forbes article I linked is: "Looking Into Space, When Do We Start Looking Into The Past?".
It's an interesting question when you pose it to social media. For instance, when you look at someones status update on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook(?), or Instagram, looking at their photo, or what they're saying, how far into their past are you looking?
And how *accurate* are the data points you're receiving to piece together the picture in your mind?
Removing the phone first
Thesis: life is better in real life.
It's the constant spam calls that made me do it. That and the fact that nobody calls me. Everyone I want to communicate with is beside me, online, or an email away.
I just shut it off. OFF. That thing? OFF. I have extreme comfort just knowing it's not listening to my conversations. It doesn't know how much I wanted a new pillow, and it absolutely does not know how I feel about some things anymore.
That's left a lot of real-life, and me using the computer more. Then I couldn't help myself, and sometime in the third week of December I scrubbed my online connections.
LinkedIn went from 2800 to 207. I disconnected with some people by mistake (I’m sorry). And I also unfollowed everyone to clear my LinkedIn feed.
I completely unfollowed everyone on Twitter, and started curating different lists of people instead. Within two or three days about 20 people unfollowed me too. Some were bots, others made that interesting decision for themselves. I’m not sure how to feel about whatever social contract they felt existed.
When I open these platforms, I see nothing! It’s a net-zero start, and I need to know why I want to use them to make time real, useful, and meaningful for me. My time on them needs to be mindful.
I'd stopped using Instagram throughout the entirety of 2020 and now follow nobody there either. If I open it up? Empty.
My needs for relationships are still there though. A friend wrote me back in an email, unprompted, while talking about their own life, saying:
I broke out of this and could see beyond the world constructed by digital experiences.
- my friend.
Bands, their purpose, touring, and collaborations
Thesis: record an album, go on tour, meet people on tour, then do the collaborations, and then write about it.
I've watched a lot of Drink Champs episodes over the past year, this one with Pharrell and this one with J Prince stand out. Pharrell for his humility and positivity, and J Prince for his independent reality.
When you think of Rock bands, they make an album, then they go on tour, do shows, across the country, across continents. They meet people on tour, they win Grammys. Then they collaborate with some of those people. The people they admire, the people they meet, the people who went on their own tours that they didn't get to meet.
When Dave Grohl talks about Nirvana, he recalls that everyone knew their roles. Kurt was the lead singer. Dave played drums, the other guy was on bass. If they had differences, they had to work through them and continue on. They weren't on-board because they were best friends. They were on-board because they were Nirvana. And they made tons of money together.
Dave didn’t take a drums gig with another band after Nirvana. That’s not what his life was about anymore.
We are a mission driven people as humans.
We thrive on being a part of something, and then we find ourselves around other people who are part of the same thing. Then we make an album, go on tour, collaborate, and do interviews after with Rolling Stone taking about how we made it.
Thesis: time is elastic
We either eat fast food, or slow food. Fried food, or Soul food. Iraqi stews can be cooked in 45 mins, or 4-5 hours.
We can work on projects month to month, or we can work on 2-3 year projects, even 10 year projects.
It's not NOW NOW NOW. It shouldn't be. Push back against the pressure because you can either create diamonds or crush your time to dust.
Our time is relative. How is your time structured? Who is prioritized? Does it feel GOOD?
Do we prioritize *friends* every 3-6-9 months for a fleeting *catch up?*. How real is it? High School kept us together in high-school, College kept us together in College, and work, keeps us together in.. work?
While I can value past bubbles, how do I feel about my present bubble of reality? Will I, in the future, wish I can catch up and hang-out with people in my present bubble? Do they graduate into “friends” territory once we don’t school or work together?
Whose reality is the bubble I'm living in? Is it my own? Are people living in my bubble? Can the worlds collide? And am I living my present just to make way for a future I’m looking forward to?
I'm asking myself constantly, how much of my own present is full of what I'm passionate about doing, and is it full of people I'm passionate to be around, brought together through shared principle, values, and a mission to bring down the patriarchy?
How much does it really need to be full of these things? And how much of them? Right now, I’m making space for myself to understand all of this.
While I do, I won't experience friends in the same way if they’re not in my band, or if we’re not touring, or doing a collaboration album together. I might see them in the future at an award show, a gala, or even on Queen Street West. Who knows.
Take care, and happy new year.
i. Forbes link on space and time to refresh your perspective: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jillianscudder/2018/03/23/astroquizzical-light-travel/?sh=5297ceab4a5c
ii. Laura Vanderkam's TedX talk on Elasticity of Time: https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_vanderkam_how_to_gain_control_of_your_free_time/transcript
Note: this post has only been lightly edited. Read online for the latest version.