Mad Planet

I had some long-haul travel this week and finally in one of those white-noise, time-zone agnostic moments where sleep and relaxation are utterly defeated by an uncomfortable plane seat and dehydration, I decided to write.

I have not written since April. There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, I partially blame Facebook. I could hardly characterize myself as a social media junkie, I just don’t have time. But over the last couple of years because of various semi-professional activities, particularly in relation to the World Economic Forum, I had found that I had amassed a large number of “friends” most of whom have comparatively interesting lives (to me) and are very active on social media. Lately, I found myself – at idle moments – “dialoging” about things and to be honest I think it took the bandwidth away from me that I would normally have dedicated to writing a blog.

Two things about Facebook that have worn me out. The first is that I am all “news flowed out”. More on this in a second but to summarize, I found that my network of “friends” and the nature of their lives really amplified the events of the world around me. I’m completely burnt out on gender issues, race issues, asylum issues, religious hatred, forays into war zones and human rights. I started to find myself getting irritated and even on a few occasions scrapping with people about things precisely because I got tired of someone’s 28th post on “why all entrepreneurs are male chauvinist pigs” or someone’s well-structured and defiant rant on why “It’s ok for Israel to continue to annex land in Golan Heights.”

The second matter relates to Facebook’s little “behavior modification” studies under the auspices of apparently being allowed to arbitrarily mess with my head under some kind of purported “informed consent” as part of my user agreement. I’m reasonably well versed in the ethics of patient-centric research and I think they overstepped the mark. I don’t know if I was a guinea pig or not – in fact, it doesn’t matter because there has been so much negativity in the world the last few months, my newsfeed was pretty bleak even without Facebook’s meddling. But I object to what they did and it has permanently tempered my trust and willingness to engage with Facebook.

So a few weeks ago, I unfriended everyone that I do not consider to be a true friend (yes, I know, I have done a similar purge in the past but this was not a mere prune). Sure, unfriending people is a socially grey area and not a precise science. I know I offended some people and I actually miss certain people’s thoughts and reflections about the world (you know who you are) but now – thankfully – my news feed is mostly pictures of babies doing cute things, family vacations, interesting recipes for vegan food, selfies and one of my old friend’s slightly amusing tendency to post provocative pictures of herself in different contorted yoga poses.

In short, life has returned to normal in my social media world and as such – I am no longer really all that interested in it. It is pleasingly bland and I only check in once a week. This in turn may have freed my mind and my fingertips to waste time on my blog instead. (note: that doesn’t read very well but you get the drift).

The second vitiating factor in my lack of appetite to blog is just the world itself at the moment. The couple of times I sat down and tried to write a reflective piece I found that I really didn’t have much to say that wasn’t utterly bleak. I’m not a journalist so writing a second-piece about ISIS or Israel or Ukraine doesn’t add much to what you have already heard from the BBC or CNN. I’m not above political commentary but there isn’t much inspiration there at the moment either.

An earlier blog post – In Defence of Mother Russia – seems hopelessly naïve and almost ridiculous given that a mere 10 days later apparently Russia invaded Ukraine. This is in fact something that is deeply dividing in my family at the moment and with my wife’s family in Donetsk Oblast, a reality that we are concerned with every day. Extremely disturbing.

A couple of months ago we had a management retreat at a beautiful resort in Palos Verdes and I remember sitting there watching my news feed and all of sudden getting two simultaneous posts on Israel sending tanks into Gaza and MH17 getting shot down. It completely consumed my attention and the remains of my emotional reservoir that day. That night I think I drank too much, not just to hit the “steam release” from a long and stressful day but because notwithstanding a fine Southern California evening, the world just felt particularly sinister … and not just because Facebook was possibly manipulating my newsfeed.

Lastly, work. Work work work and more work. ImaginAb is going through that teenage phase where you start to see the great promise of adulthood and your “child” shows potential, but there is still a lot of attitude problems, temper tantrums and acne. You get one bit of smooth skin and then a boil appears in the middle of your forehead just before prom night. It’s both inspiring and exhausting – and typical of a company as it transitions through that 40-50 employee barrier. Relationships get replaced by processes, policies replace convention and early members of the team start to hit their Peter Principle. It’s tough.

I have also had to adjust, not just in my personal life and work-life balance but also my own attitudes toward corporate governance and being part of a grown-up management team. I’m reasonably happy with this and in some ways it’s a great evolution to be part of because it means you are really creating something that is capable of proper execution. But it is also a long way away from the years of the relative freedom of being an entrepreneur where you “live and die” by the sword on a daily basis. Interesting times… but all consuming.

Max doesn’t get to see his Daddy so often these days, something that I certainly struggle with.

Anyhow, I can’t promise that all of a sudden I will be saturating the blogosphere with brilliant and insightful writing but to all those who asked me “where are you?” – particularly Jean-Luc, Edna and Sue – thanks for the reminder that I started blogging because I love to write and part of my life has been missing the past few months.

It will also have to wait until Max is in bed.