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I Never Thought I’d Agree With Al Jazeera, Let Alone Post Something From It!

My good friend, veteran (and sometime blogger) Donovan posted this on Facebook, with the following comment:

Well. This is interesting. I agree with this. When even Al Jazeera says you’ve gone too far, I sit up and take notice. This applies to BOTH sides of the political aisle.

In 1943, the US War Department released this video to tell Americans not to fall for fascist rhetoric. Share this video if you’ve heard language like this recently.

AMEN, Brother!

I don’t mind saying, watching this made me a little misty…

Certainly, we should stand up for American Values.  And one of these values is Individual Liberty for All.

(My apologies to Donovan and Tom.  In an earlier post, I confused you two…)

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Police Denied Civil Rights – A Memory

 

Gun Owners of Arizona via FB

A Chief of Police gets to experience what lawful firearm owners experience everyday. The difference? He is law enforcement and gets an apology. Welcome to our world Chief.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – A local police chief is reeling after he was refused treatment at a Woodlands doctor’s office Tuesday because he was wearing his gun in his holster.

Conroe Police Department Chief Philip Dupuis said he was also wearing his badge and clearly identified himself to the office manager at Texas ENT who told him to leave.

“She said, ‘Sir, I need you to take your gun out to your car.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’ She said, ‘Sir, I need you to take your gun out to your car. It’s our policy,’” Dupuis said. “I said, ‘Well, I’m not taking my gun out to my car, give me my driver’s license and insurance back, and I’ll find me a new ENT.’”

Notices posted outside the door of Texas ENT clearly state it prohibits both concealed- and open-carry firearms inside the building.

Texas law enforcement officers are legally allowed to carry weapons inside of private businesses with these notices. However, these notices are rarely, if ever, enforced by the businesses that post them when it comes to law enforcement officers.

Chief Dupuis says he has never been kicked out of a business for wearing his firearm in his 35 years in law enforcement and was embarrassed in front of the other patients in the waiting room.

He acknowledges it is a private business’s right to refuse service or treatment to whomever they please, as it is his right to take his business somewhere else.

A spokesman for Texas ENT told KHOU 11 News an office employee made a big mistake yesterday and said he has personally apologized to Chief Dupuis.

Dupuis said he expected to hear from his physician, Dr. Rosalie Burke, M.D., rather than a manager of the practice. He said she has not attempted to contact him.

Texas ENT released the following statement in response to the incident:

“We regret the situation yesterday involving Chief Dupuis and a member of our staff. We have personally apologized to Chief Dupuis for any inconvenience or embarrassment he experienced. Our team is working diligently to insure that a situation like this does not occur again. Our company values law enforcement officers and first responders for their selfless service and will serve them and our communities with the utmost respect.”

Chief Dupuis said he was not looking for attention but got a swarm of responses after posting details of the incident to Facebook.

© 2017 KHOU-TV

This made me chuckle.  Not only because of the absurdity of it, but it reminded me of a long lost memory.

When I worked @ TMCCC (that major credit card company), we had an operations manager who thought she was all that.  And then some.

She imposed ‘speed humps’ so not-to-spec in the parking lot, that some employee’s vehicles ‘high centered’, and were even damaged.  She was the one who enforced the ‘no guns on the company campus’ policy, to the extent she stated no employees at a company function (even if it were after-hours and not paid!) were allowed to possess weapons.  And when the credit card investigations department offered facilities to the regional financial crimes investigation organization for meetings and seminars (including law enforcement) she insisted law enforcement disarm upon entering the building!

Of course, this was scoffed at, and we were told if we wanted to be included in police protection we needed to rescind that order.  Which we did.

Later, we offered a rest stop for local patrol officers to reconnoiter in the building, get a cup of coffee, use the restroom, etc.  The previous ban on weapons was not mentioned…

The day after this woman left the company, the speed humps were removed.

(The only time the peons saw this woman was if someone was going to be canned.  Some folks (I’m not going to say who, specifically) would hum the theme to the Wizard of Oz’ Wicked Witch of the West (under their breath) when she would appear in the area pending someone’s termination.  Good times, good times…)

Second Amendment Guarantee Act Would Protect Popular Rifles, Shotguns from Antigun Politicians

(from NRA/ILA)

This week, Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) introduced legislation that would shield popular rifles and shotguns, including the AR-15, from being banned under state laws. The bill, known as the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA), would also protect parts for these firearms, including detachable magazines and ammunition feeding devices.
The bill is a response to antigun laws in a small handful of states – including California, Connecticut, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York – that criminalize the mere possession of highly popular semiautomatic long guns widely available throughout the rest of the country. Although rifles or shotguns of any sort are used less often in murders than knives, blunt objects such as clubs or hammers, or even hands, fists, and feet, gun control advocates have sought to portray the banned guns as somehow uniquely dangerous to public safety.
Ask Your Representative to support the Second Amendment Guarantee Act
Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 3576, the Second Amendment Guarantee Act. You can call your U.S. Representative at 202-225-3121.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
Anti-gunners’ focus on these so-called “assault weapons” was renewed after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. That decision made clear that handguns – by far the type of firearm most commonly used in crime – were subject to Second Amendment protection and could not be banned. This led gun control advocates to seek out other sorts of guns to demonize, and they’ve since been strenuously promoting the myth that semiautomatic rifles and shotguns with certain features such as detachable magazines, pistol grips or adjustable stocks are “weapons of war” with no legitimate civilian use.
Yet Americans overwhelmingly choose these types of firearms for legitimate purposes, including protection of their homes and properties, “three-gun” and other practical shooting sports, and hunting and pest control. And, indeed, the states’ legislative attempts to ban these guns has spurred a market for innovative products that use the same basic calibers and firing mechanisms, but with stock, grip, and accessory configurations that comply with legislative guidelines.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to review any of these state bans, lower courts have come up with increasingly strained readings of the Second Amendment and Supreme Court precedents to try to justify them. The Seventh Circuit, for example, held that even if a ban’s incursion on Second Amendment rights had no beneficial effect on safety whatsoever, it could still be justified on the basis of the false sense of security it might impart to local residents with exaggerated fears of the banned guns. “[I]f it has no other effect,” the majority opinion stated, the challenged “ordinance may increase the public’s sense of safety.” That’s hardly an acceptable offset for the infringement of a constitutional right.
Members of the Supreme Court have criticized their colleagues for failing to review these cases and the lower courts for misapplying Supreme Court precedent. As noted in a dissent filed by Justice Clarence Thomas and joined by Heller’s author, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, “Roughly five million Americans own AR-style semiautomatic rifles.” Moreover, the “overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting.” “Under our precedents,” Thomas concluded, “that is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.”
With states’ violating Americans’ rights and federal courts allowing them to act with impunity, it is up to Congress to ensure that all Americans, wherever they may live, have access the best, most modern and innovative firearms for their lawful needs, including the protection of themselves and their families.
The SAGA would ensure that state regulations could not effectively prevent the manufacture, sale, importation, or possession of any rifle or shotgun lawfully available under federal law or impose any prohibitive taxes, fees, or design limitations on such firearms.
The NRA thanks Rep. Chris Collins for leading this important effort and urges his colleagues to cosponsor and support this staunchly pro-gun legislation.
Please contact your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to cosponsor and support H.R. 3576, the Second Amendment Guarantee Act. You can call your U.S. Representative at 202-225-3121.

IT’S ABOUT TIME!

Where were bills like this when the various ‘assault weapon bans’ were introduced?  Of course, the political climate has changed.

Let’s support bills like this before the pendulum swings back again the other way!

The truly sad part is if State and federal legislators truly followed their oaths, none of this would be necessary.

You Have A Constitutional Right To Take Photos Of Police, Federal Court Affirms

Photographing and filming police officers in public is a constitutional right protected by the First Amendment. That’s what a federal appeals court unanimously affirmed this week in cases involving Philadelphia officers retaliating against citizens pointing cameras at them.

Slate reports that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling was for two cases. In one, a woman named Amanda Geraci was restrained across the neck by a police officer while trying to film the arrest of an anti-fracking protester. In the second, a Temple undergraduate named Richard Fields was handcuffed and prosecuted after trying to film officers breaking up a house party.

A District Court previously had ruled that both Geraci and Fields had engaged in “conduct” only and not “expressive conduct,” and that therefore their filming wasn’t a First Amendment “freedom of speech” issue. But in Friday’s ruling, the Federal Appeals Court disagreed.

“Every Circuit Court of Appeals to address this issue […] has held that there is a First Amendment right to record police activity in public,” the judges write in their opinion. “Today we join this growing consensus. Simply put, the First Amendment protects the act of photographing, filming, or otherwise recording police officers conducting their official duties in public.”

“The First Amendment protects actual photos, videos, and recordings, […] and for this protection to have meaning the Amendment must also protect the act of creating that material.”

“We ask much of our police,” the judges write in the closing statements. “They can be our shelter from the storm. Yet officers are public officials carrying out public functions, and the First Amendment requires them to bear bystanders recording their actions. This is vital to promote the access that fosters free discussion of governmental actions, especially when that discussion benefits not only citizens but the officers themselves.”

So there you have it: police officers don’t have the right to squash free speech by ordering you to stop shooting photos of them in public.


Image credits: Header illustration based on photo by Elvert Barnes and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

h/t John Gwillam, Facebook

IT’S ABOUT TIME!

Don’t you always hate it when Rights you believed to be self-evident truths have to work their way up the judicial chain just to be affirmed as valid?

Of course, this hasn’t yet reached The Supreme Court(!)

Who knows?

A.M.A. (Against Medical Advice)

Or rather A.G.A. (Against Guffaw’s Advice)!

A while back, my friend Borepatch (who definitely has a right to such opinions in such matters) wrote regarding the acquiring and use of Siri, Google Now, Cortana or Alexa.

Or their fellow travelers.

I warned my roommate of such folly.

BUT, she is addicted to newfangled gadgets (as best she can afford them)!

(And, it IS her home, and she supplies the Wi-Fi…)

THIS arrived in the mail yesterday.  Apparently, there was a sale

It’s an Alexa (Echo) device (‘courtesy’ of Amazon)

(aka, “the electronic hockey puck of EVIL!” – spoken in Don Adams’ Maxwell Smart voice)

Sigh.

There’s a cartoon somewhere (unfortunately, I couldn’t find it) showing government agents discussing how citizens will place wiretaps/bugging devices in their own homes voluntarily, and will allow them to record conversations and Internet activity with ease!

They were gleeful!

I am not.  😦

Sigh.

 

The Opioid Crisis 

There has been much media attention of late regarding ‘the opioid crisis’.

This is directly parallel to the the so-called Drug War.

Or ‘gun violence’.

Those who wish to insert governmental controls into private actions often label (insert issue here) as a ‘crisis’.

President Nixon started the War On Drugs in 1971. Here 40 years later, billions of dollars later, thousands have been incarcerated, and little illegal drug commerce has been stopped.

And numerous States have decriminalized and/or medicalized previously illegal drugs.

People continue to be shot en mass in Illinois and elsewhere.

And people with legitimate prescriptions are being squeezed more and more because their physicians and pharmacies are. 

By the ‘well meaning’ federal government.

A recent study noted that something like a whopping 1% of those who have opioid prescriptions are abusing them.

The lions share of abuse comes from those who steal, smuggle and illegally obtain such drugs.

Are you surprised?

I’m not.

I sometimes take a relatively low dose narcotic, which I get through a legal prescription, to deal with my chronic pain. I know others who take a much higher dosage than I, who must constantly wrestle with the increasing pressure on the medical community.

While the bad guys make billions from illegal users, largely unchecked.

Read between the lines.

 

Dangerous Things For Kids!

(from The Art of Manliness, in part)

Even though the modern world isn’t any more dangerous than it was thirty or forty years ago, it feels like a more perilous place. Or, more accurately, we inhabit the world today in a way that’s much more risk averse; for a variety of very interesting and nuanced reasons, our tolerance for risk, especially concerning our children’s safety, has steadily declined.  So we remove jungle gyms from playgrounds, ban football at recess, prohibit knives (even the butter variety) at school, and would rather have our kids playing with an iPad than rummaging through the garage or roaming around the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, as we discussed in-depth earlier this year, when you control for one set of risks, another simply arises in its place. In this case, in trying to prevent some bruises and broken bones, we also inhibit our children’s development of autonomy, competence, confidence, and resilience. In pulling them back from firsthand experiences, from handling tangible materials and demonstrating concrete efficacy, we ensconce them in a life of abstraction rather than action. By insisting on doing everything ourselves, because we can do things better and more safely, we deprive kids of the chance to make and test observations, to experiment and tinker, to fail and bounce back. In treating everything like a major risk, we prevent kids from learning how to judge the truly dangerous, from the simply unfamiliar.

Fortunately, we can restore the positive traits that have been smothered by overprotective parenting, by restoring some of the “dangerous” activities that have lately gone missing from childhood. The suggestions below on this score were taken both from 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), as well as memories from my own more “free range” childhood. If you grew up a few decades back, these activities may seem “obvious” to you, but they’re less a part of kids’ lives today, and hopefully these reminders can help spark their revival.  While each contains a element of danger and chance of injury, these risks can be thoroughly mitigated and managed by you, the parent: Permit or disallow activities based on your child’s individual age, maturity level, and abilities. Take necessary precautions (which are common sense and which I’m not going to entirely spell out for you; you’re a grown-up, not a moron). Teach and demonstrate correct principles, and supervise some practice runs. Once you’ve created this scaffolding of safety, however, try to step back and give your child some independence. Step in only when a real danger exists, or when your adult strength/dexterity/know-how is absolutely necessary. And don’t be afraid to let your kids fail. That’s how they learn and become more resilient.

In return for letting your children grapple with a little bit of healthy risk, the activities below teach motor skills, develop confidence, and get kids acquainted with the use of tools and some of the basic principles of science. Outside any educational justification, however, they’re just plain fun — something we’ve forgotten can be a worthy childhood pursuit in and of itself!

23 Dangerous Things You Should Let You Kids Do

Unlike many of you out there, I grew up in a city.  And, my Dad was largely absent.  I was given boundaries, though.  Don’t cross these streets; Don’t play with these kids;  Let us know where you are;   Be home for dinner @ 6 o’clock.

Other than that, I was pretty much left to my own devices.  Playing in old abandoned houses and construction sites, climbing into open manholes and irrigation conduits.  Picking through discarded trash for treasures.  Making rocket fuel and fireworks.  Dissecting unexploded fireworks.  Dirt clod fights.  Rubber band guns with projectiles!

I wasn’t foolhardy, but I wasn’t a namby-pamby either!

I remember when my Dad’s .22 rifle went missing.  He accused me of taking it, but was most upset I hadn’t asked! (I didn’t take it – it was stolen and later recovered by the PD)

From what I’ve observed, most kids (and most adults) don’t play outside or explore anymore.  Instead, they are inside getting carpal tunnel…

(And not in the traditional way!  😛 )

Toss your kid outside, without their electronics.  And tell ’em not to return until dinner-time.

They might learn something!

In An 8-0 Decision…

(from Fox News)

The United States Supreme Court…

In win for Asian-American rock band the Slants, and possible boost for the Washington Redskins, Supreme Court rules that the government can’t refuse to register trademarks that are considered offensive.

More on this: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/19/supreme-court-rules-trademark-law-banning-offensive-names-is-unconstitutional.html

AGAIN, free speech is not about that with which we agree!

(Just when you thought the Supreme Court was worthless…)

Press Check, Much?

(from TFB, in part)

Rebuttal: “The Folly of the‘Press Check’”

Browsing through the interwebs as we writers do, I came across an interesting proposition from one Mr. Jeff Gonzales that the “press check” is not appropriate for …”when you strap a firearm onto your body (unless the instructor specifically asks you to use an unloaded pistol or rifle).”

I disagree. I’m no Navy SEAL like Mr. Gonzales, but this assertion fails my logical tests.

Unlike rifles where it is easy in an administrative situation to see the double-stack magazine change sides, most handguns are single-feed weapons and as such, it is near impossible to tell that the weapon is loaded without one of two things – a loaded chamber indicator (this is why I like them) or a press check. Press checks are ideal for administrative times – exactly when you are strapping a firearm to one’s body. In fact, administrative handling is the one time you should be handling a firearm unless drawing to fire or de-gun.

Should one press check in the middle of combat? I would assert the situation dictates it – but it’s likely a hard no in almost all circumstances. But, in an admin function why would one not want to verify their readiness? More on this below.

Mr. Gonzales continues:

 “Why do students want to perform a weapons check? Because we as instructors have failed. We’ve failed to encourage and empower students to understand the importance of readiness.”

Now, I will say that Mr. Gonzales is quite right on his points on willingness, attitude, and readiness, but readiness includes having the weapon ready to perform and if one does not have a loaded chamber indicator – the only way to do that is to press check the gun.

We want to perform a weapons check because we are learned and empowered to actually understand that malfunctions happen. I am checking to make sure that the most critical shot – my first one – has the highest chances of success.

I instruct my students on the importance of handling themselves responsibly with loaded firearms as soon as they can handle their gun safely.

There is nothing worse than drawing your firearm, aiming it at your attacker and hearing a click. To reduce the odds of that happening, start as you mean to finish.

There is absolutely no logical argument here. How is a press check not handling oneself responsibly so long as the firearms safety rules are followed? Then, to imply that BECAUSE one did the press check that they are going to draw a dead trigger is nuts. Do it right – ensure your weapon is in battery and in fact one of the key points of the earlier argument of readiness.

If you feel the need to press check your firearm, you need to ask yourself why. And do whatever it takes to be confident in yourself and your gun’s condition. So that you’re as ready as you can be to fight. And win.

This is a flat-out oxymoron. How can one assert that one should do “whatever it takes to be confident” yet throw out one of the processes that makes one confident?

I press check my guns to ensure that I am ready to win – either combat or competition. Press checking is simple and follows an old maxim: “trust, but verify.”

I choose to verify.

Personally, I have only press-checked at the range, prior to dry practice, or prior to starting a string in competition.  Those few times where the possibility of actual combat have occurred (as with entering a previously locked building as a security guard, or my own home on a couple of occasions after finding the door ajar (yes, I know, I teach retreat to a safe location and call the PD, too!) I was too focused on clearing the area rather than checking to see if the pistol that was a moment prior in my holster was properly chambered!

Taking such action seems to me to be unnecessary, and possibly dangerous.

I guess I agree with the Seal.

YRMV

 

I’ve Not Visited Here In a While…

The Art of Manliness! (a blog to which I often refer) (in part)

Decluttering Your Digital Life

Hamlet’s Blackberry. The Joy of Missing Out. Irresistible. Reclaiming Conversation. The Tech-Wise Family.

Recent years have seen a boom in books (and articles) about being digitally mindful — putting down the smartphone, closing the computer, and engaging with real-world, tactile things. All this content makes the case that our devices are sapping a bit of our soul.

And I have to agree. Here on the Art of Manliness, we’ve written about FOMO (and interviewed Christina Crook about JOMO), breaking the smartphone habit, the importance of conversation in a digital world, and more.

This isn’t to say that the digital revolution is a bad thing, just that it needs a little more mindfulness than simply picking up the latest iPhone and diving into the digital ocean with reckless abandon.

In reading these commentaries on the effects technology is having on our lives, and considering both the negative and positive sides of the coin, it occurred to me that perhaps the best way of thinking about how we should engage our digital spaces, is to compare it to how we inhabit our physical ones.

In the same way that “analog” possessions are neither good or bad in and of themselves, but only detract rather than enhance our lives when they become too great in number, require too much maintenance, and clutter up our garages, kitchens, and bedrooms, apps and websites aren’t inherently problematic, but become such when they overwhelm our devices and require too much attention. When they become digital clutter.

Just as physical clutter can cloud the mind and hinder your focus, so can digital clutter. It takes up an inordinate amount of mental space and bandwidth.

Fortunately, just like with physical clutter too, the digital variety can be readily sorted through, organized, and cleaned up. By making the effort to do some digital decluttering — putting everything in its place and ditching what isn’t desirable — you’ll be able to focus better, breathe easier, and reclaim many of those spare moments that have been lost to endless scrolling on Facebook and Instagram.

If you’re ready to vacuum up some digital dust, clean out your closet of apps, and pare down your technological junk drawer, then grab a metaphorical trash bag, and let’s get to work.

The Harm of Digital Clutter

Just as physical clutter leads to stress and a muddled mind, so does digital clutter. It leaves you with what author Scott Hartley calls “constant partial attention.”

It works in the same way that physical clutter sometimes leaves you unable to fully focus on a task: You need to finish up some administrative work at home, but you know there’s a pile of mail that needs your attention, the living room needs vacuuming, and the coat closet is bursting at the seams with junk.

The digital version: Your inbox has thousands of messages. Your smartphone notification window is alerting you to 6 different social media apps that need your attention. You have 19 tabs open, each with some purpose that you’ve probably already forgotten. You have a conversation going with a family member in a variety of different places — text message, Facebook messenger, email — and you can’t keep track of what was last said.

With all that going on just in your little device that you hold in your hand, it becomes impossible to truly focus on any one thing, let alone something that’s truly important.

Scott Hartley states this problem well in The Fuzzy and the Techie:

“It’s a process of constant minor interruptions that delude us into thinking that we’re highly engaged across a number of shallow conversations, but in fact, we’re just continually, partially attuned.”

The very technology that we’ve created has in fact very slowly hijacked all of us. As Christina Crook notes, “Facebook in 2006 was fun, Facebook in 2016 is downright addicting.”

You know the feeling of satisfaction, relaxation, and relief that comes when you’ve tidied up your room or house? It’s the exact same when you tidy up your digital life. You regain the ability to focus on important things — not necessarily productive things, but important things like your family, a good book, even a great meal. (When’s the last time you went a day without checking your smartphone during a meal?)

Identify and Inventory the Problem

The task of physical decluttering often starts by surveying what areas of the house have become overly filled with junk, and deciding on a rubric for figuring out what should stay and what should go.

The job of digital decluttering should begin in the same way.

In The Joy of Missing Out, Christina Crook offers a helpful yardstick for evaluating the effects of our digital “possessions.”

She was inspired by a seemingly unlikely and decidedly un-modern source: Saint Ignatius Loyola, who lived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

While it’s unlikely he created the discipline, he considered what he called “The Examination of Consciousness” (sometimes shortened to simply be called “Examine”) to be the most important spiritual practice one could partake in. It was really quite simple — twice a day, the Christian practitioner would guide themselves through a reflection of their actions and time spent, using the 10 commandments as a guide.

With Ignatius’ Examine as a starting point, Crook created a shorter, modern, secular version designed to inspire reflection. She asks readers to inquire of themselves, on a daily basis, two things (and in this case especially, thinking with your device and internet habits top of mind):

  1. What today was most life-giving?
  2. What today was most life-taking?

In just two days of practicing this contemporary Examine I came to realize that most of my digital actions were far more life-taking than giving. What was most life-giving in a normal day? A splendid cup of coffee in the morning alongside a real book, a breath of fresh air in the middle of the day, playing with my son after picking him up from daycare, writing a letter to a friend. Not once in my reflections has anything social media or internet-related been most life-giving.

And yet, before this digital decluttering, I spent a lot of my time on my phone. Granted, I was better than a lot of people. It’s rare that phone time was truly disrupting something, but in spare moments I was playing games, or perusing Facebook, or trying to pick which adorable picture of my kid to post to Instagram. Those spare moments really added up — I’m a little ashamed to say that my game of choice was Two Dots, and I got up to level 1,006 before recently working up the nerve to delete it.

Viewing my digital habits through Crook’s Examine questions helped me to identify the areas of my tech habits that were problematic, and gave me criteria on which needed to be re-organized, pared down, or eliminated.

Before beginning your own decluttering project, I recommend engaging in the same illuminative exercise. The insights that you get will be different than mine, which will allow you to create a more personal plan.

In a lot of the material out there on digital detoxing, you’ll find plenty of prescriptive advice. The thing with clutter (of any kind), though, is that it’s actually fairly personal. A desk with piles of of books and papers and mail on it doesn’t bother me, but a sink full of dishes does. Some folks are just the opposite. Similarly, an email inbox with more than 30 messages in it stresses me out, while plenty of people have never deleted or archived anything and are perfectly happy to leave it that way.

You’ll have to find out for yourself what bothers you — what takes up mental space — and what doesn’t. Don’t necessarily just blindly follow what’s been recommended by others. Experiment and tailor your digital decluttering to your wants and needs.

How to Declutter Your Digital Life

Once you’ve determined which of your digital habits are more life-taking than life-giving, it’s time to take a broom to the former.

Below I walk you through some steps — both easy and not-so-easy — to tidy things up. Some of them may seem a little intense, but I encourage you to give them a try. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, and as The Strenuous Life implores — “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you.”

Since our age is pushing us hard into the abstract and distracting, don’t be afraid to be similarly ruthless with your decluttering — to go to what other people might call “extremes.” You can always add back in what you miss and what you discover is truly life-giving. Sometimes when cleaning up, you just need to throw it all out and start with a blank slate.

Christina Crook did this by going internet-free for 31 days. After going nuclear for a month, she added back in what was useful and beneficial (and also kept the good habits and routines she discovered in that month).

Kyle Eschenroeder did something similar with his Input Deprivation Week. For seven days, he lived without blogs, social media, and online news sites of any kind (among other non-internet forms of input too). He realized the space they were taking up in his life, and noticed a slew of benefits from taking a break:

“It will increase mindfulness, increase the respect you have for your own ideas, you’ll have more ideas, unsolvable life problems may begin to make sense, you’ll have an increased appreciation for the news that actually matters, you’ll become more social, you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll become more original.”

With the principle of doing more rather than less in mind, let’s get into specific tactics for reducing the digital clutter in your life:

Cull your email inbox. Let your inbox become a sacred space. By utilizing filters for any advertising or social media email, and by unsubscribing to anything I’m not actively interested in reading, my inbox has become a place where I know that almost anything that comes in is either important, or from a friend or loved one (which I’m interested in even if it isn’t all that important!).

Rather than letting Redbox into your inbox to tell you the new releases, just go to the website when you want to rent a movie. Rather than letting Target suck you in with coupons, search out the coupons when you need something.

Practice Inbox Zero if you’re into that; if it doesn’t bother you, not a big deal. Personally though, knowing I have a fairly empty inbox at the end of the day clears up a bunch of mental space.

Get rid of apps on your homescreen(s). The homescreens on our smartphones are hotbeds for clutter. Between apps, folders for apps, and notifications, it’s pretty much constantly beckoning for our attention. If you have an Android phone, if you delete an app from a homescreen, it’s not gone, it just goes away into a slightly-harder-to-access app section. I’ve done this, so if I want to get to Instagram, I’ve added a step besides simply unlocking my phone. I now have to navigate to apps, then to Instagram. Just one extra step has me checking on a weekly basis rather than a few-times-per-day basis. My homescreen now only has apps that I use regularly for life-giving or practical purposes: Kindle, flashlight, kid’s mode, camera, phone, email, text messaging, and Starbucks. And boy is it nice.

(On iPhones, it’s a little harder, as apps are downloaded automatically onto the homescreen. Utilize folders, multiple homescreens with less on them, or the below option of losing your apps altogether.)

Decluttered homescreen(s), decluttered mind. You’ll no longer be mindlessly sucked into 20 minutes of Facebook scrolling because you’re worried you’re missing out on something. If you don’t see that little blue F button, there’s a good chance you won’t even think about it (or if you do, you’ll think about it much less).

Ditch apps altogether and use your browser or your computer. Frankly, I love this tactic. Get rid of all the apps on your phone and force yourself to use its browser, or your home computer, when you need a social media fix or to search for something. Apps are clutter. Period.

Need to look up flights? Right now? Doubtful. It can wait until you’re in front of a computer. If it can’t, use your phone’s browser. In general, apps give us permission to feel the need to check or look something up instantly, when that is rarely, if ever, a true need. We check the weather app constantly only because we can. Ten years ago we survived with weather reports on the news, maybe looking it up on a computer, or heaven forbid, stepping outside to feel the temp and look at the sky. Now, I check the temperature on my phone while standing in front of a window. Seems a little silly.

As noted above, don’t be afraid to go nuclear with your apps and mass delete things, and if you find you really need something, download it again knowing that it’s truly useful.

Ditch all notifications. Okay, this is somewhat prescriptive advice. Notifications are clutter, just like a pile of mail on your table is clutter. It’s stuff that’s just begging to be opened and looked at and dealt with. Except whereas your mailbox might have 5 items to look through, between email and social media and news alerts, you could have hundreds of things to wade through every day. Mental clutter.

Treat your notifications more like you do your actual mailbox. When you get snail mail, it’s not chucked through the window at you the instant it arrives at the postal service’s distribution center. That would be rather distracting. Instead, it’s sorted and delivered in a bundle all together at a single time during the day. Take 15-20 minutes once or twice a day to check email, news, social media, etc. Don’t let it clutter your day and interrupt the important things you’re doing.

And while you’ll generally think of notifications in terms of your smartphone, ditch ‘em on your computer too. There are multiple inboxes I keep track of for work, but I’ve limited desktop notifications to only my main account. And I’ve also disabled all social media desktop notifications. Those are things that can be checked at set times during the day.

Stick to 1-2 social networks. I have personally found that trying to maintain regular use of multiple social networks to be just too much. It takes a lot of brainspace to check and be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, and more all in the same day. So I’ve decided that in addition to deleting most apps from my phone, I won’t even try to keep up with more than Facebook or Instagram, and won’t maintain a presence on even those platforms beyond posting a weekly or bi-weekly photo. I’ve also taken up letter writing to keep in touch with people I truly care about. It’s far more satisfying for both parties than simply “liking” a social media update.

Put your phone away. When you come home and throw your keys into a basket, catchall, or other small container, toss your phone in with them. When it’s with you — and in your pocket — the mental clutter of an entire internet’s worth of headlines and viral videos can be too much to resist. Having your phone always next to you is like having a stack of newspapers and magazines on the floor that you have yet to read. Only when you ditch the newspapers because you realize they’re literally old news will the mental space they’re crouching on be freed up. Same goes with your phone. Those memes don’t call to you if your phone isn’t within reach.

Change your “zoning out” routine. Plenty of people, myself included, cite phone use as a way to zone out and chillax a little bit at certain points throughout the day. Maybe you had a long day at work, or your kids were being extra rambunctious during dinner. So when it’s time to kick back and relax a little, you grab your phone for some mindless browsing and social media scrolling. You need to just not think for a little bit.

But in doing so, you’re adding to your digital and mental clutter. You’re actually filling your brain with more FOMO and more headlines that don’t usually convey anything important. You want to empty your mind, but you’re only adding to it.

Rather than zoning out by engaging the digital clutter, do something else. Anything else. Pick up a book — some easy-reading cheap thriller will do. Sit outside with a homebrew or a cocktail and watch the sunset. Bake some bread. Carve a spoon. Jumpstart your journaling. These are the things that will truly declutter your digital life. While your phone calls you in a million different directions and to dozens of apps to constantly check, doing something tactile often requires that you focus on one thing at a time.

While these actions often necessitate more effort to start than simply grabbing your phone, resolve to do it, and once you’re in the moment, you’ll realize it’s far better than staring at a screen.

When it comes to spring cleaning this year, don’t just think of tidying up your physical spaces, but take time to declutter your digital ones too. Determine which of your digital devices, apps, and emails are taking from your life rather than giving to it, and organize or eliminate the vitality suckers. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” doesn’t just apply to your clothes and dishes, but to your phone, and your habits, too.

Do I follow their sage advice?  Not as much or as often as I should.

But I AM learning!

 

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In Loving Memory…