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The Internet, social media, and Facebook – one person’s year without the Internet, reflections by another on the good side of social media. But – in another link – not if you’re multitasking. Especially if you think you can multitask. The power of little things like compliments and excuses. A literary review that had me laughing harder than anything I’ve read in a long time. And a fun short-film overview of the history of typography.

:: I’m still here: Back online after a year without the Internet (The Verge via Becoming Minimalist)

It’s hard to say exactly what changed. I guess those first months felt so good because I felt the absence of the pressures of the internet. My freedom felt tangible. But when I stopped seeing my life in the context of “I don’t use the internet,” the offline existence became mundane, and the worst sides of myself began to emerge.

I would stay at home for days at a time. My phone would die, and nobody could get ahold of me. At some point my parents would get fed up with wondering if I was alive, and send my sister over to my apartment to check on me. On the internet it was easy to assure people I was alive and sane, easy to collaborate with my coworkers, easy to be a relevant part of society.

So much ink has been spilled deriding the false concept of a “Facebook friend,” but I can tell you that a “Facebook friend” is better than nothing.

:: How Social Media Made Me a Better Person (Relevant Magazine)

Facebook helps us love other people better. We are able to keep in touch with many more people. Yes, critics will say, “But how deep are those relationships? Aha! Got you!”

At the very least, social media creates a wealth of small talk relationships that can dip down into deeper topics more quickly. I know when people are really sick, when there are major life changes, or when someone goes radio-silent for a while, I can pop them a message, ring them up on the ol’ landline, or even drop by those who are in my zip code. And when we do interact more personally and directly, I can leap over the chit-chat and get to the heart of the matter.

:: You’ll Never Learn! Students can’t resist multitasking, and it’s impairing their memory. (Slate.com)

David Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who’s studied the effects of divided attention on learning, takes a firm line on the brain’s ability to multitask: “Under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time. It can happen only when the two tasks are both very simple and when they don’t compete with each other for the same mental resources. An example would be folding laundry and listening to the weather report on the radio. That’s fine. But listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook—each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.”

Young people think they can perform two challenging tasks at once, Meyer acknowledges, but “they are deluded,” he declares. It’s difficult for anyone to properly evaluate how well his or her own mental processes are operating, he points out, because most of these processes are unconscious. And, Meyer adds, “there’s nothing magical about the brains of so-called ‘digital natives’ that keeps them from suffering the inefficiencies of multitasking. They may like to do it, they may even be addicted to it, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s far better to focus on one task from start to finish.”

:: Compliments from Random Women (DailyLife.com.au via Design Mom)

It’s funny, what a compliment can do.

I wouldn’t describe myself as starved for attention, or particularly insecure. Most of the time, I’m not walking around hoping against hope that strangers will flatter me in passing. I can get through my day just fine without even a single kind remark from a person on the subway. But just a few consecutive compliments have the power to make me abruptly happy. And for some reason, they mean even more when they’re coming from other women.

I was thinking about this in the cab on my way to the work thing. I’m not sure what makes compliments from other women feel particularly meaningful. Maybe men are simply more likely to dish them out to the women they randomly encounter, so when women do it, it feels special. Maybe the compliments from men almost always have an ulterior motive-y whiff about them. Women’s compliments can feel more earnest. Maybe I just care what other women think in some quiet, deep-seated, socially ingrained way that I don’t know how to parse or unpack.

What I am sure of is that compliments, though often brief, insignificant-seeming moments, make a difference.

:: The Making Excuses Game (Catholic All Year)

I teach my children to make excuses for bad behavior, and I don’t even require that the excuses be particularly believable.  It’s fine if they are, but sometimes the most outlandish excuses are the most fun.

And before you figure I’ve finally gone off the parenting deep end, let me clarify that The Making Excuses Game involves making excuses for other people only.

:: Don’t make fun of renowned Dan Brown (The Telegraph)

Renowned author Dan Brown hated the critics. Ever since he had become one of the world’s top renowned authors they had made fun of him. They had mocked bestselling book The Da Vinci Code, successful novel Digital Fortress, popular tome Deception Point, money-spinning volume Angels & Demons and chart-topping work of narrative fiction The Lost Symbol.

The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. For some reason they found something funny in sentences such as “His eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.” They even say my books are packed with banal and superfluous description, thought the 5ft 9in man. He particularly hated it when they said his imagery was nonsensical. It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket.

:: The History of Typography – Animated Short (Forrest Media)

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