Changing Your World, One Flossed Tooth at a Time

Changing Your World, One Flossed Tooth at a Time

I wrote a blog post this week that seems to have resonated with a lot of people; it’s about online communities, and more specifically, what I can do to build the Internet I want to experience.

It emerged from a recognition that while I try to be conscious in my off-line consumption habits – for example, buying local and organic produce when I’m able – I haven’t always apply the same rigour to my online “investments,” be they investments of money, time, energy, attention, or personal data.

It’s a rather daunting task to analyze and shift my online habits to be better aligned with my values. But rather than becoming paralyzed by the scope of what I might do in an ideal world, I’m taking my cue from Leo Babauta’s “floss one tooth method” – and starting with a couple of teeny-tiny steps:

  1. I’ve moved the Facebook app icon on my phone to a hard-to-reach location, so that it requires significantly more effort to launch it than it used to. The result: Far less frequent habitual checking, and more intentional engagement.
  2. Inspired by Clay Johnson (and my partner, David, who has also encouraged me in this direction), I’m attempting to take a vacation from outrage. I’ve noticed how frequently I become riled up by some news headline or blog post that’s making the rounds, and more often than not, I have neither the influence nor the energy to effect significant change on the matter in question. So I have made a private vow to resist clicking on headlines that I know will send me into an outrage spiral, and I’ve begun asking my outrage, when it rears up, “Am I able to do anything about this right now?” If the answer is no, I step away, take a breath, and move on. This doesn’t mean that I do nothing and wallow in total apathy; it simply means I’m reserving my energy for the causes that I know I can commit my resources to.

Now, you may not feel the need to alter your online habits; but I think most of us are less than consistent when it comes to shaping the world we want to see.

So here’s your curiosity experiment for this week:

  • What kind of world do you want to live in?
  • What can you do to help shape that reality?
  • What’s a teensy-tiny (“floss one tooth”) step you can take forward?