Today, I claimed a small victory against procrastination and removed Alien Blue from my phone, effectively removing Reddit from my life.
I was thinking about a story of a world renowned high school teacher in a tough neighborhood, who would avoid the breakroom whenever possible because of the toxic personalities and conversations about how one student was awful in this way or another student was terrible in this way and how bad their lives were. it was an orgy of negativity.
By detaching himself from the self-indulgent pityfests that would happen daily in the breakroom and instead focus on the positivity in the classroom, he was able to make groundbreaking improvements in students that were otherwise thought to be hopeless.
Now this is quite an abridged version of the actual story, but I believe this detachment from the negative allowed this teacher to break free from the mediocre norms at this school and drive his students to excel.
On a train ride from my parents home in Jersey back into the city, I han incredibly insightful conversation with a stranger. Not suprisingly, we were connected by our passion for cycling. He grew up in a white suburb, but now he lives in Paterson, NJ (one of the most crime ridden towns in New Jersey). He endures an incredible amount of racism, most of it from "people of my own color." He is ridiculed for "talking white," riding a bike (which is apparently only an acceptable activity for children in Paterson) and not being like the other people.
I asked him what people in his neighborhood did for fun and his response was quite eye opening. "They just like to sit around and drink beers and talk about people." Their idea of fun would never be to travel or go to a museum or go to a park; traveling would never even cross their minds. I am initially shocked by this mindset, but it makes sense. The entire neighborhood that this man lives in is like that teacher's breakroom. It is a hive of negativity, void of tolerance or curiosity.
The reason he rides is because it allows him to escape. At any time, he can hop on his bike and get away. "It's poisonous to be there," he says. He tells me has $10,000 saved up and he already has a plan for how he's going to make it out of there. I think he has his mind in the right place. I wish him luck, and ask a parting question.
"What's the solution to a situation like this?" He says it's education, which will foster a curiosity for the world and promote tolerance. I believe education is certainly part of the solution, and a lot of careful thought needs to be put into a solution that will work. Throwing money at current school systems won't work.
So what do these heavy stories (that both happen to involve education) have to do with deleting Reddit from my life?
Like attracts like. Negativity attracts negativity. Positivity attracts positivity. In the case of both stories, a toxic mindset poisons the group and that becomes the status quo. There is a positive feedback loop in play here, which reinforces previous behaviors, making it harder and harder to change.
While Reddit isn't exactly something I see as "toxic" or "negative," I find it wasteful. Its clickbait (a non-clickbait-y article on clickbait) centric nature promotes absent mindedness, turning us into primitive creatures, pressing a button repeatedly for a slight burst of dopamine.
I want to completely distance myself from this aimless intake of vapid content. I fear that a belated intervention won't be able to pry me from whatever tabloid reading Fox News loving habits I may develop over many years of unmointored internet consumption. More so, I look forward to the opportunities that this decision may afford me, in the form of additional time and a "cleaner" mindset, not driven by animal instincts manipulated by modern technologies.