Is Tech Conspiring to Make Interpersonal Communication Worse?

Is it just me or…?


Haven’t written about this much, or at all, but I developed a strong opinion, last few years, that certain messaging technologies aren’t super compatible with my nervous system. A few, relatively popular apps provide a few particularly pointy examples.

Facebook Messenger helped me make a big ol’ mess with my nervous system, year before last, as I started to message with someone who I wanted to talk to a lot, but didn’t seem that interested in talking to me. My intuition told me that last bit, even as FB Messenger constantly alerted me to that person’s presence or recent presence online, even after I hadn’t interacted with them for months. It was a perplexing moment for me, almost on the daily, thinking to myself that the only resort I knew to get the visual reminders to stop would be to block the person on FB and Messenger, and at the time, I felt that that was more energy than I wanted to give in that direction. I ultimately did block the person, as I realized that I was having apprehensive feelings just thinking about using FB, and it’s here for me, not the other way around.


I seriously doubt that the way that FB Mess. sets up alerts (they’re the ones that show you who is online and active) is an accident, whether it is intentionally designed to exacerbate certain kinds of nervous system maladaptive patterns or not.

Now, a second messaging mechanic comes to my attention as kind of super annoying. Some of you will be familiar with Slack. At first, I loved Slack. I saw it used in a context where new participants could see without much risk how people were contributing to various conversations, and I did see it as a beautiful example of technology in action.

But I also notice that with Slack, that if someone doesn’t respond to you, it gets lost. I never know if someone has read a message I’ve sent if they don’t respond, for instance. And there’s no reminder to follow back up. The Facebook news feed has mechanisms that remind people that conversations are potentially ready for more engagement, with notifications on replies, and @name mentions, and notification of likes. We all know they can get annoying, but there’s a lot of granularity in how you can turn them off individually.


People like feeling they have been heard, “message received”.


Ultimately, it’s up to people to engage, and you can only encourage people to engage so much until it’s coercive. When do most people realize that a non-response is a “no”? Do “most” people usually feel “crickets = no” or not? I get this, now, but haven’t always.

So the real issue for me, it appears, is that there can be a context of a relationship that I infer will lead to “good communication” but then it doesn’t. Now, letting go is a much more prized approach than in previous years, when I would obsess over not hearing back from folks for any variety of reasons. Now, I seek what I’m seeking, just in other places.


But the hard part is when someone I think of as a friend doesn’t act in a way I believe my definition of friend should work, and we each get to choose for ourselves what those definitions should be. It’s usually around responding to messages inconsistently. Once I see someone isn’t great at getting back to me, from there it’s usually a management and unwinding process from that point. I know that I don’t want to give as much energy to this person, but several months/years of getting to know somebody and giving them the benefit of the doubt makes an immediate and decisive break not so tenable. Things get messy. I’ve felt disrespected, I’ve potentially disrespected them, communication is breaking down, and poor communication practices don’t give a lot of hope that communication will be restored. These days, I’m just letting go as I lean back and sip my piña colada, and what it took to get here, oh my.

At some point over the last 2 years, I found myself in this place occasionally where even the slightest breeze might cause me to feel exhausted. I felt this way around a new person I was getting to know in a friendly way. As an experiment, I decided to stop talking to them abruptly, and while other people can do that, it’s hard for me, I found.

Wish technology would make communication easier. I feel like there’s an opportunity for it to do so.


But in the absence of technology making communication easier, I’m going to keep putting myself in situations that test and develop my Don’t Give A Fuck skillset.

Spring Cleaning!

Cut through the overwhelm with this practical approach to organizing stuff in space, or even virtual stuff in virtual space! But we’re going to focus on organizing stuff at home, for now.

SparkleDeep is about learning about, sharing, and exchanging ways of living. One aspect of living involves the practical stuff of life. Almost everyone has stuff, and almost everyone I know wishes that their stuff was more or differently organized. I’ve found organizing is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in life. However, I’ve been around the block, I’ve turned some corners, and I’ve developed some approaches that work for me, that I’ve used to do professional home and space organization, and now I want to share them with you. If these organizational techniques help you, that’s awesome, and please, let us know!

So where to begin?! Let’s assume you have the most disorganized room or corner in your space to organize. What do you do? And what is the overall plan, so you know that the first steps lead to where you want to go, which let’s assume here, is a place for everything and everything in its place: space without clutter. We’ll want to even plan space for common movements of things that come and go, and we’ll want to think about space for doing common and not-so-common activities in the space. Let’s dive in!

The overall process I’m using and with which I’m working looks like this:

  1. Compartmentalize
    1. Take loose and small items and put them into temporary (or permanent storage, if you have a place already and it’ll take less than 5 minutes)
  2. Sort items, container by container
    1. Categories – Where things will go eventually
      1. Keep or don’t keep! (aka Marie Kondo that %^&$)
        1. Don’t keep: get it out of here! Give it away, maybe sell it, or even trash without regret! You’re making space for your LIFE
        2. Keep
          1. Find or make a home for each thing
            1. Temp home
            2. Long-term home
    2. Prioritize your sorting
      1. Big things
      2. Easiest things
      3. Go left to right or right to left, from the door or another reference point
  3. Repeat!
  4. Getting to “The End”
    1. Find a space for each thing
    2. Let go of stuff you don’t have room for
    3. Storage ideas
    4. Designate space for new/incoming/loose items
    5. Action spaces

Compartmentalize aka Partition

The first step, take loose and small items and either put them where they go (long-term home) or put them in a box or bag or other container. This can be a cardboard box! Or bags that you have around. Eventually, you might want to put things in a more permanent container, but you don’t have to have permanent containers to make a huge difference in a space, just by taking the smaller loose items and putting them into containers.

Once things are in containers, they can be more easily handled as you can move the container around, and deal with a lot of stuff more amenably. For instance, you can think about dealing with one container at a time, maybe one a day/week/etc, instead of having to deal with all of the things, at once.

Sort

You’ve put some things away to where their long-term homes are, and you’ve got all the loose stuff in containers, and you’re already feeling so much organized! So with this momentum, let’s keep going and getting to the next level of organizing. Let’s emphasize, at this point, you don’t have to do it all at once! Organizing is hard work! So we’ve partitioned our big job into smaller jobs, so that we don’t have to feel overwhelm.

Categories – Where things will go eventually

Before we start to sort in earnest, let’s consider how we’re sorting the stuff. There’s going to be Keep and Don’t Keep. With the Keep stuff, we’re going to find temporary and long-term homes for things. Marie Kondo seems to be the bright light of late with expertise on how you figure out what you keep and don’t keep, so check her out.

At the end of the day, the stuff you Keep is going to need a home. It can have a temporary home, but ultimately, each thing needs a long-term home.

Prioritizing your sorting

Now everything is in containers, but which container do you start with?! We’re back to where we were before! A bunch of things (containers), but where to begin. Okay, so let’s start with the BIG stuff, then move on to the EASY stuff, and then we’ll get to the rest. Doing the big stuff first means that we may get some more space, and the more space you have, the easier and easier it gets to organize. It’s evolution in action! You’re a force of evolution, and you can make immediate changes in your environment that allow you to be an even more effective agent of change in the world, before your very eyes, in real-time!

Deal with the Big Stuff First

Dealing with the big stuff includes getting rid of furniture that you’re not into, anymore. Dealing with big stuff means figuring out where bulky stuff ought to live. This may involve some problem solving that isn’t covered here, but feel free to post questions on what to do with stuff you can’t figure out in the comments or at the SparkleDeep facebook page.

Deal with the Easy Stuff Second

Now, let’s deal with the easy stuff. As you’ve been dealing with the big stuff, you’ve been eyeing the stuff that you know has a place, you want to store, or you definitely want to get out of your life. It’s time to get into that! So put away the things you know where they go, put things you want to store but don’t yet have a place into temporary compartment (another container, maybe labeled “Save – Temporary”), or move it out of the room, to the door, or another place that let’s you clearly see “This stuff is on its way out — and for good!”

The Rest: Start Somewhere and Chip Away

The rest of the things, you’ll need to go compartment or area by area of your space to sort. So on a given day, pick whether you start left to right or right to left, and do one compartment or area. Then, do another. Stop before you get tired and frustrated, and pick up when you can get into it again.

Holistic Planning for Prevention of Clutter

If you realize that you regularly collect items that don’t get put into long-term homes, you’ve got to make space for storing those things, for going to their long-term homes later. Flat horizontal surfaces are the traps for these items! Beware flat surfaces! If you like clear tables or desks, you’ve got to have a place for those things that often accumulate there. I love decorative bowels and dishes for the little things. When those bowels and dishes fill up, and you don’t know what to do with the stuff in them, dump them in a zip-lock bag or box! Then, you’ll need to do something with that bag or box, use the handy-dandy general process for organizing. You never have to despair, because you’ve got a process!

One quick note about “action spaces.” If you know you do certain activities, you need space for that! So as you’re organizing, be thinking about how to set up your space for the activities you do, or want to do.

This is my first take on this stuff. If you find what you’re reading here useful, let us know, tell someone about it, or let us know what else would be useful to know with this info. Thanks for checking it out!

What’s this SparkleDeep all about?

Several years ago, I started distilling down the things I thought were interesting enough to me that they might be interesting to others. They boiled down to a motley assortment with a few common threads. Things like queer & femme culture, kink, underground art happenings in California and the world, other “embodiment practices,” and anything relevant to advancing social justice kept coming up and wouldn’t go away. The importance of explicitly centering  efforts to challenge imbalances in power seems critical; it’s not good enough to reinforce the status quo, the way we see it. And it’s clear that there’s room for more accessible, practical information on how to start and run small, entrepreneurial, and creative business endeavors, especially from down-to-earth people who are figuring it out.

I grew up since college experimenting with what I’d like to think is enlightened hedonism, so that’s a natural area of interest for me. However, in the last few years, festival and “EDM” culture has become mainstream, and it’s evolved into something I hardly recognize from the early days of PLUR, which for me was the mid to late 1990s. A lot of what I have to say, these days, critiques these scenes, though from the perspective of a long-time participant and someone who believes they’ve made me who I am, if not a better person. These spaces demand particularly focused criticism precisely because so many, myself included at a time, saw that the potential for these spaces for transforming people and society. But it takes real work for real change to happen, and most people having a good time aren’t really up for real work. But we’ll pay it forward with some labor to break down what’s going well in kink and festival land, and what’s not working.

Covering underground scenes has some immense challenges, but as a trans woman, I at least have some personal experience with diverse views of marginalized people being misrepresented through misrepresentation or outright lies, and I’m not a fan of it, so I give a lot of care to how people’s stories are conveyed. And that’s what this is really about, sharing insights into people’s lives, what’s interesting and stimulating, and maybe some ideas that can change us and the world.