Social Media Detox, Renewables on the Increase, and Why I Love Martial Arts – Weekly Blog #4

Social Media Detox

On Sunday evening, I was notified of my screen time, and subsequently deleted all social media apps from my phone. I’d spent more than 8 hours – a full work day – mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. To be fair, it was election week, so an elevated amount of time on the socials is to be expected. But, now that we have a new President-elect, it was time to detox. 

And I’m glad I did. 

It always astounds me how habitually I use social media. I did Sober October, and after cutting out sugar, found myself mindlessly reaching for sugary treats. It’s exactly the same phenomenon with Twitter and Instagram. My brain seems to demand little bumps of dopamine, and subconscious Ross happily complies. It’s quite creepy. A few times I’ve caught myself swiping back and forth in the folder I keep my social apps, as if my mind has momentarily taken control, and is searching for the simulated community it loves to interact with.

I watched the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” and was worried by how powerful an influence these companies have over our psychology. If you haven’t seen it, and use social media, it’s well worth a watch. We’re engaged in a battle of attention. A battle between our personal will, and a supercomputer which understands us better than our closest friends and family. Not a battle we’re likely to win. 

It feels good to have saved some time from the black hole of productivity. I’ve read more articles, written more often, and felt generally more useful as a human being this week. Will I re-download the apps? Probably. But I like to think I’ve wrestled a little control back off of the algorithms. 

Movember

I think Eli’s glad we’re doing long-distance at the moment

Movember is going about as well as I could have hoped. I have the facial hair growing capabilities of an 8-year-old, so didn’t have high hopes to begin with. However, I do have a slight fuzz over my upper lip. At least it’s something. 

The point isn’t to grow a huge handlebar moustache (as much as I’d love to). The point is to raise awareness of men’s mental health, prostate and testicular cancer. 

Personally, since the clocks have gone back, I’ve felt a clear downward shift in my mental health, and have made a conscious effort to have cold showers, meditate every morning, and get enough sleep. It’s so important we all take responsibility for our mental health, and take proactive steps to improve it. 

This week another young man a few social steps from me took his own life. He was 32. Men’s mental health is a pandemic which will not be solved by a vaccine, is far more deadly than COVID, and we all need to do more to improve the situation. 

I’ll be sharing a post this weekend on a few practical steps we can all take to improve our mental health. I hope it provides some value. 

*Shoutout to my man PJ who’s doing 3000 push-ups this month to raise awareness for men’s mental health. That’s a huge under-taking, and he’s smashing it. He’s also raised £85. Respect Brother! I can’t wait for the photo of the pec gains.*

In the News 

I may  have stepped away from social media, but I always like to keep an eye on the headlines. 

I read an extremely promising article this week from the Guardian, highlighting the growth in renewable energies. 

Since 2010, the renewable energy market has grown 10-fold, a growth-rate only set to increase. The solar industry especially is booming, with an 18 fold increase in power capacity. It seems that humans are finally realising there’s a giant nuclear reactor in the sky, creating far more energy than we could possibly use, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The age of fossil fuels is over. The age of unlimited energy has just begun. 

A group leading scientists have also called for the government to be aiming higher than “net-zero emissions” which is encouraging. Net-zero is not enough. We’ve done catastrophic damage to ecosystems all over the world, and we not only have to stop the destruction, we also need to work ro repair the damage we’ve done. Efforts such as rewilding and Carbon capture (planting forests) are key to returning the natural world to what it was before the industrial revolution. 

Climate change was the reason I started Ross Blog, and although I’ve broadened my field of topics, it’s a fight I’ll be involved in for the rest of my life. Renewables are one of the core aspects of that fight. I’m so glad to see them expanding. The future of humanity hangs in the balance, and growth in renewables tilts the scales a little more in our favour. 

The MMA Zone 

I finally finished my new MMA zone. It took much longer than I thought it would, but I now have an area to do as many hours of Martial Arts as I please.

Why have I put so much work into creating the space?

Martial Arts play a crucial role in my mental, physical and spiritual health.

It can be categorised as a sport, but I view the study of non-armed combat as a way of life.

It’s a system of thinking, of moving, and of conducting oneself. An attitude of constant learning is essential, as well as humility, discipline and desire to improve. These values and principles translate to every area of life, and enable you to become a better version of yourself. 

Sensei McCoull axe-kicking me in the face. Be humble, or be humbled.

I can understand why some may think the study of fighting would create a more violent individual, but I’ve observed the opposite. Some of the most peaceful people I’ve ever met have been the most dangerous. All bite, no bark. They have nothing to prove, so have no desire to prove themselves. I’ve found it’s those who are insecure in their ability to defend themselves who are most likely to be aggressive. 

Men in particular seem to have an innate predisposition to violence. It likely served us well in the days of hunting and gathering, but in civilised society, it has become a hindrance. This inbuilt aggression has fewer outlets now, but hasn’t gone anywhere. I would argue a large part of the mental health crisis in young men is an inability to express this aggressive energy, and therefore manifests in violence towards others, but more often toward themselves. I experience a surge in self-deprecating thoughts when I haven’t trained, which are extinguished after an hour of hitting the heavy bag. We all need to find ways of blowing off that neolithic steam, and MMA is an excellent way of doing that. 

If you don’t have a way to spend your innate physical energy, it’s important you find one. That can be running, Martial Arts, weight lifting – anything that will tire your body out. We’re primates living in a concrete jungle – make sure you tame the animal within. 

So, I suppose there are many reasons to have built the MMA Zone. To hone my skills, blow off steam, and maintain my physical, mental and spiritual health. If anyone reading this would like to try it out, you’re more than welcome to drop by Bridgend. I’d be buzzing to show you the basics. 

A Quote to Ponder Over the Weekend:

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”

-Indira Gandhi

Thanks

Thank you as always for reading this far. I’ve been surprised every week by the positive reaction and feedback I’ve been getting. I started doing this to challenge myself to write consistently, and here I am, one month on, with far more to say than I did 4 weeks ago. I’m really enjoying the process. 

Someone told me it reminds them it’s Friday, so even if I’m just a glorified calendar during the pandemic, I’m happy to provide that service. 

I’m working on being more concise, but as you can tell from this post, I still have some work to do. 

If you have any feedback for me, please let me know. There is always room to improve. 

Have a great weekend. 

And much love, 

Ross

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