Dear family and friends,

You may (or may not) have noticed that I barely spend any time on Facebook these days. Today is the first time I’ve logged in for quite a while, and although I have definitely missed hearing what some of you have been up to and keeping up with your goings-on, I have to say I have really not missed “the Facebook experience”.

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook… I know there can be some great stuff happening there, but I was increasingly finding Facebook as a huge time suck that was stealing more and more hours of my life for very little real return. I, probably like you, have spent far too much of my life liking and commenting on other people’s posts, watching inane videos, or observing some of humanity’s ugliest sides in many of the discussion threads.

I was becoming more and more disenchanted with the whole Facebook experience, so I just decided to stop using it. If you’ve read my blog you will know that I’ve got to this point in the past, where I’ve ranted about it, even deleted my account, etc, but I now realise it was far more about how I used Facebook than Facebook itself. (Although I still have many concerns about the way Facebook does things and the many unethical ways it deals with user data).

I do find Facebook useful as a single sign-on tool for other web services, and that is one reasons I have kept my account active. The other main reason is you… I am connected to many people here on Facebook, and I consider most of you friends. However, I’ve seen less of most of you over the last few years than ever before, and if that’s what it means to have friends these days, then it’s not enough for me. I’ve fallen into the trap of having friends in online spaces like Facebook at the expense of having friends in actual meetspace.

I have to say that since I have deliberately been avoiding Facebook, I’ve been happier, fitter, healthier, and have spent more time doing more things that I like doing. I’ve read more, exercised more, travelled more, and used some of that time to learn a new language. (In fact, the loading page in Duolingo actually says “15 minutes a day can help you learn a new language, what does 15 minutes on social media give you?”) It turns out that I was spending WAY more than 15 minutes a day on social media, and the truth is I was getting very little back from it.

I know some of you love Facebook and get great value from it, so good luck to you. Facebook is not all bad and for many of you it helps you remain connected with people you care about. I’m glad it works for you.

For me, it became a case of the more connected I became, the more disconnected I felt. I decided that there is a whole real world out there that is far more interesting and more deserving of my time than Facebook. I’m glad we are friends, and I’m glad that I can stay connected to you in some way, but it will be far less on Facebook. If you want to know what’s going on in my life, I’d much rather you call, or have lunch, or meet for a drink, or go for a walk together, or something…

I still like social media, I just don’t want it to be a permanent proxy for my real life.

Crossposted to Facebook

Beyond Working For The Man

I remember being at a university Open Day once and walking past some girls, obviously in their final year of high school, trying to decide what course they should enroll in at uni. I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation about how they planned to choose… one was considering study based on the likelihood of getting a job from it, and her friend was considering her future choices based on which career paid the most. While I suppose these are both somewhat relevant factors, the idea that young people would be making choices about their life direction based on which had the shorter job queue or which helped them buy their first car quicker made me a little sad.

I often think that the conventional wisdom we give kids amounts to “go to school, get a good education, get a good job and work real hard”, and it’s something that has always bothered me. As adults, parents, and especially educators, we talk a lot to our older kids about the idea of “getting a job”, and we prepare kids really well to be employees. We teach them at school how to write a job application letter, and how to prepare for an interview, and about the expectations that employers might have of them. We tell them to be careful about what information they put online about themselves because it may one day be Googled by a potential employer. We build a paradigm in kids’ heads that we are preparing them to be outstanding employees. And whether we talk to our kids about having a job, or a career, or a vocation, so often it’s still couched in the general idea that they will be working for someone else, operating on someone else’s goals and priorities, relying on a paycheck from someone else. In most schools we manage to build “good employee” mentality really well.

What I think we don’t do so well it to build entrepreneurial thinking. We often don’t do a terribly good job of preparing kids to follow their dreams in any sort of independent, entrepreneurial way. We focus so heavily on teaching them to be good employees that we almost never teach them to be business owners. We teach them how to write a resumé, but not a business plan. We teach them how to sit for an interview but not how to create a start-up. I’ve never heard a careers adviser tell a kid to start their own company. Despite the fact that we educators talk a lot about developing “independent thinkers with a love of life long learning”, it’s quite amazing how well we train them to be compliant rule-followers that are good at fitting in to the expectations of the system.

For many students, the $20,000 it costs them to get a undergraduate degree would be better spent as startup capital in a venture that allowed them to follow their passions. But most of them never even consider that option… we do a pretty good job of educating that out of them.

I’d love to see kids leaving school with a greater understanding of the real options that lie before them and more of a sense that they should be following their dreams and their passions, and that doing that might not always mean further study or going to work for “the man”.

PS: This post started out as a comment on a blog that my principal recently started writing. Pop over and take a look at the post that triggered this one at  I thought I’d repost my comment here, but do check out Paul’s original thread and help create some traffic over there. Ta!

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