Twitter — endlessly distracting, endlessly social Twitter — is also a habit, and a far easier one to fall into. To a significant extent, habits are private things, ours to form and break, and I don’t think I’m off the hook for changing my own behavior. But I never had much trouble exercising self-discipline in the name of writing before Twitter came along, and I’m not sure its creators and the culture that sustains it should be wholly let off the hook, either. Even Clive Thompson shares my qualms here, and he is a technology champion whose new book, Smarter Than You Think, argues that services like Twitter “change our minds for the better.” “The one complaint about the Internet that I wholeheartedly endorse,” he said this week in an interview in The New Yorker, “is that most of these tools have been designed to peck at us like ducks. … [T]heir business models are built on advertising, and advertising wants as many minutes of your day as possible.”

In other words, the addictive nature of Twitter is a feature, not a bug. But, with apologies for changing metaphors midstream, it feels like a bug to me. There is a class of parasites in nature that hijacks the nervous system of other creatures, causing them to behave in ways that are against those creatures’ best interests but in the interests of the parasite. A flatworm called euhaplorchis californiensis, for instance, takes over a species of fish and makes it swim to the surface and wiggle around, thereby rendering it highly visible to hungry birds passing overhead: bummer for the fish, but great for the flatworm, who dreams of an afterlife in an avian gut.

That Goddamned Blue Bird and Me: How Twitter Hijacked My Mind
By Kathryn Schulz

Compare & contrast

These things seem to be in the air sometimes - I will read an article about one aspect of something and stumble across related articles on the interwebs. 

Is the Internet Good or Bad? Yes.  “It’s time to rethink our nightmares about surveillance.”

How the secret police tracked my childhood  “Fighting the system used to be dangerous anywhere in Eastern Europe. For one protester from a small Romanian village it was disastrous - and also for his family, whose every word was recorded by the secret police. Carmen Bugan, who found the transcript of her childhood, tells their story.”

Hello frequency illusion/Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (and as always, confirmation bias). Oh - look: a list of cognitive biases!

We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well….

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).

Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause … “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.

Martin Seligman via Brainpickings

Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week. Got a face?

Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise … you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.

Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter.

Martin Seligman via Brainpickings 
The room was like the afterlife in a French existentialist novel. Bed, chair, bedside table, clock-radio, wall-mount TV. You could sail to the next galaxy in it, or serve out a life sentence in its minimum-security oblivion.
Orfeo, Richard Powers

Imagine this:
Instead of waiting in her tower, Rapunzel slices off her long, golden hair with a carving knife, and then uses it to climb down to freedom.
Just as she’s about to take the poison apple, Snow White sees the familiar wicked glow in the old lady’s eyes, and slashes the evil queen’s throat with a pair of sewing scissors.
Cinderella refuses everything but the glass slippers from her fairy godmother, crushes her stepmother’s windpipe under her heel, and the Prince falls madly in love with the mysterious girl who dons rags and blood-stained slippers.

Imagine this:
Persephone goes adventuring with weapons hidden under her dress.
Persephone climbs into the gaping chasm.
Or, Persephone uses her hands to carve a hole down to hell.
In none of these versions is Persephone’s body violated unless she asks Hades to hold her down with his horse-whips.
Not once does she hold out on eating the pomegranate, instead biting into it eagerly and relishing the juice running down her chin, staining it red.
In some of the stories, Hades never appears and Persephone rules the underworld with a crown of her own making.
In all of them, it is widely known that the name Persephone means Bringer of Destruction.

Imagine this:
Red Riding Hood marches from her grandmother’s house with a bloody wolf pelt.
Medusa rights the wrongs that have been done to her.
Eurydice breaks every muscle in her arms climbing out of the land of the dead.

Imagine this:
Girls are allowed to think dark thoughts, and be dark things.

Imagine this:
Instead of the dragon, it’s the princess with claws and fiery breath
who smashes her way from the confines of her castle
and swallows men whole.

'Reinventing Rescuing,' theappleppielifestyle. (via ladysifs)

(Source: theappleppielifestyle)

(Reblogged from internal-acceptance-movement)
Be grateful for anything that still cuts. Dissonance is a beauty that familiarity hasn’t yet destroyed.
Richard Powers, Orfeo
The commonplace takes us farther and farther from ourselves,
but we are brought back to ourselves by solitude
Life is short as it is and I can’t live on yesterday.
Merry Clayton, singer on the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter, on why she began singing it again after years of avoiding the song.