3 Ways Social Media Kills Your Relationships – And How To Save Them

Reading time: 6 minutes.

Technology-and-Companionship4

Introduction

I recently met with a friend who I shall call James that I haven’t seen in a year. James was successful in his field: he had money, a great career & got to travel to interesting places – sweet.

But James was not happy. He confessed that despite all the success, he thought that his job took up all of his time and he never got the chance to see his friends & his close relationships were falling to pieces. He admitted that he was feeling lonely, quite depressed and was terrified of ending up by all by himself.

Although I’m married, I totally understood where James is coming from. Being a teacher and switching careers left me less time to see close friends/family. James’ confession made me wondering how much I’ve neglected my relationships to chase those Queen Heads (pounds sterling).

Now you all know I’m a massive fan of all things technological and one of the greatest gifts Web 2.0 brought us is social media.

The likes of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp have permanently changed the way human beings interact. Social media has allowed us to be part of online communities and interact with people across the globe in the blink of an eye.

But something else is going on here. Despite being the most connected generation in human history, it seems that we are becoming the most isolated.

Studies show that loneliness – often seen as the problem of the elderly, in fact affects 60% of young people aged between 18 to 34 compared to 35% of the over 55s. Other studies show that loneliness can be as bad for your health as obesity and smoking!

So what’s happening? Here’s 3 things I have observed from my own life.

1) Information Overload

Businessman sinking in heap of documents

That’s what happens when you are off work for 2 weeks & you have to go through your work emails.

Technology has has made our lives undoubtably better but we are dealing with more information than ever & that has rocketed our pace of life. Studies have shown that we are taking in five times more data than we did in 1985 which is equivalent to 175 newspapers – and that excludes our daily work!

When I was growing up in the 90s, there was no Internet, we had four TV channels, no mobiles or 24-hour rolling news coverage. For entertainment would play football in the street or ride a bike is in the park. We had… Space. But now we have so much flying at us, we lack the time & patience true friendship needs to grow strong & healthy.

2) Unrealistic lives

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That’s how we roll… on the table.

Social media has given access to all of us to have our 15 minutes of fame – but at what cost?

A family member of mine has a Facebook profile picture of himself with a brand-new green Lamborghini Aventador. When I asked him when he won the lottery, he told me he hired it for the day for photoshoot. He told me various things like:

‘You need to up your profile’

‘You need show people you’re ballin’

‘You need to show people you live life’

But paying £500 to impress people with the car that you don’t have, to people that you don’t know, to promote a life that is not yours is a lot of effort. But social media makes it easy to do – infact it’s promoted.

3) Lack of intimacy

emotional-intimacy

In-to-me-see.

 

When I upset my mother in public, my mother would simply say “wait until you get home – then me and you are going to have a talk”. Although sometimes that talk was not only verbal but physical, my mother felt that not everything should be for the public to see.

In a time we can share pictures of our holidays or our wedding photos, how do we share that a loved one is sick? Or share how we’re not sure about our careers? Or that we feel anxious/depressed? It blemishes that perfect picture we brought up of ourselves online and damages the “brand” – but are we big corporations or human beings?

Here’s 3 ways I’m using to reverse the trend.

1) Unplug & meet IRL (In Real Life)

unplug

Unplug. Go analogue.

I’m still terrible at this but for those people who I actually care about, instead of texting/tweeting/updating I try and arrange time in my calendar to meet them face-to-face. I try to clear a couple of hours in my schedule – this helps me slow down, be less charged up and more in the present with them. I try not to stay on my phone & try to give them my undivided attention – I still struggle with this but I know this shows I respect their time & presence.

2) Know that everyone doesn’t have it all together

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When we go on social media, we only present our perfect selves. To outsiders it looks like “We got all our stuff together” but that is far from the truth. The brutal reality of human beings is that we are often confused, irritated, we make mistakes and more often than not are ‘winging it’ in the adventure called life. Philosopher Soren Klerkegaard said

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.

Sometimes in career & life building, we can get lost in the brand, but remember we’re human first. This helps us be more compassionate with ourselves & others.

3) Be vulnerable

Superman_Batman-smallville

Even Batman needs a friend…

Author Brene Brown in her book “Daring Greatly” said

“vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they never weaknesses”.

In some people’s minds, James is confession could be seen as weakness but in truth it was great strength. To admit your fears/uncertainties is what makes for genuine friendships. As humans, we often believe that our vulnerabilities are unique to us, like we are the first humans ever to go through our difficult feelings. But in truth, the more we open up to the right people, we grow stronger and realise that we all have a lot more in common than we think. That understanding and openness allows us to make a real connection: greater than anything Mark Zuckerberg ever can conjure up.

Thank you for reading! Does social media enhance friendship or hinder it? What do you think? Please comment below or tweet me @karlwebdev.

See you next Thursday!

Karlwebdev

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Techdegree Journal 4 “Building A Responsive Web Page”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

sausage_dog-rwd

If only we could change our pets sizes like that in real life…

Introduction

I’m on Project 2 of Teamtreehouse’s Front End Design Techdegree and that involved me creating a website that will change depending on the size of the device screen. I had to create it to fit three sizes:

  1. Mobile screens @320px
  2. Tablet screens @769px
  3. Desktop screens @1020px

I was supplied the images & the mock-ups & was told it should be done in under 6 hours. Hang on to your butts…

Thoughts & Takeaways

As a coding newbie, this was initially very daunting… Sure I’ve created static HTML websites, but creating a fully responsive site involved a little more thinking and understanding how all the elements interacted with each other. After a couple of hours of hacking some code  – I did it! Here’s 4 things that I learnt while doing this project.

1) Don’t panic!

When I was initially given the mock ups, I felt like Jeff Goldblum when he saw the mothership in Independent Day – I was terrified and in awe at the same time.

jeff-min(1)

They… They have media queries…

What I did was work through the HTML and make sure that I had all the relevant elements included before I thought about presentation. Also I remembered the “mobile first” approach which was to design a single column layout then add more features for the subsequent sizes. Writing the HTML was laying down the foundation of the site and it made me feel more confident.

2) Breakdown your CSS

After I wrote up all my HTML, I started to address the CSS presentation. What proceeded to do was to create ‘comment headers’ of different parts of my site & add additional comments where necessary.

CSS headers

Having headers using comments makes life so much easier.

Not only did this help to keep my code neat, it proved invaluable later as it help me find where different declarations were quickly and easily especially if I’d left it for an hour or two. Also having my CSS headers help my thinking process as it gave me a structure to work with.

3) Floats

This project really helped me get my head around floats and the way that they effect other elements. One particularly tricky part of designing this page was dealing with collapsing containers. As we know, floats take elements out of the normal flow of the page and place it on the left or right of his parent container. Now if you float a parent element that has nothing but floated elements i.e. the navigation bar, the height of the container will collapse.

non cleared elements

My picture and the blurb should sit within the header where the nav bar is but because they are floated, the header’s height collapsed…

 

This is mind-boggling at first and I got frustrated – but that’s just how floats work. There are a number of ways to deal with this, but the method that are used was the “clearfix” method which which forces the parent element to clear is floated children.

clearfix

The “clearfix” forced the height to open back up… Much better!

Here’s a great explanation on how this works & this was really helpful.

4) Use the Developer Tools

The Chrome Developer Tools to Front End Developer is what x-ray vision is to superman – essential to help us solve problems and save the day!

developer tools

Positioning elements with floats may produce wacky renders. The Developer Tools helped me understand what’s going on behind-the-scenes of my webpage and how my positioning changes are effecting other elements. This insight allowed me to see the tweaks I needed to make to help the page look better.

Key takeaway

This was it very tricky yet enjoyable project. The key lesson I learnt when building a responsive website is, take your time and start with a mobile layout first. Mobile layouts are simple to put together and will give you the confidence to create more complex iterations of the same website. Take your time, take breaks and do it step-by-step – you will get there.

Thank you for reading and please let me know what you thought about my post! Leave a comment or tweet at me!

See you next Thursday!

Karlwebdev

3 Subjects You Hated In School But Will Make You A Better Person. Period.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Out of control students

A typical day as a Supply Teacher

When I talk to many of my friends and associates, many talk about how school had been the best times of their lives. Times when we didn’t have to worry about mortgages, careers, spouses and retirement plans.

It was a time when many of us had our first kiss (or more if you were advanced), make your best friends and pick your grades that would help shape your career.

Our parents drilled into us importance of English, Maths and Science but there were other subjects that you just had to take to hit your GCSE quota. But as I’ve started on my new journey of learning to code, I realise the ‘softer’ subjects were actually just as important to master, for whole life success & happiness.

1) Food Technology

hells-kitchen-water-funny

Self explanatory.

Ahhh the memories… For most of us, food tech classes were about cooking rubbery burgers and trying to set your mate’s school blazer on fire. But understanding food nutrition, is absolutely critical to your health and well-being. An article in the Healthy Eating Guide stated that:

75 percent of healthcare spending goes to treating preventable chronic diseases, most of which are diet-related…

Thus via food we can make a substantial contribution to how long we live! Food also has a significant say on how happy we are & how energised we feel. To change careers is really, really stressful… so I needed to change some things in my diet to help keep me centred. So since I’ve cut down on my dairy products, took it easy on the coffee, drank more water and killed the fizzy drinks, I feel more healthy, more alert, less anxious and full of va-va-voom.  Try & cut out that can of coke or Starbucks coffee for a month & see how you will feel – small changes can make a massive difference.

2) Physical Education

gymclass

“Imagine that my foot is life”

Generally, most peoples experience of PE falls into two camps:

  1. The all-star athlete that dominated in every event and had the whole school eating out of his/her hand.
  2. The poor guy/girl who couldn’t do any sport to save their life and wanted a lesson to finish as fast as possible (me).

But even if you work in an office, physical activity is critical for good health and performance.

I don’t generally when you code (or do any knowledge working job) we are mostly based at a desk, I’ve realised how drained I can become physically after a long coding session. We are not robots and we need to actively maintain all parts of our bodies.

As I’ve grown older, I have realised that my whole body is not just a vehicle for my brain and it needs proper maintenance via exercise.

And no, you don’t have to become Arnold Schwarzenegger either.

wine-arnold

Nice hair.

There are many low impact exercises that you can do such as Pilates, Tai Chi, and even taking a walk in the park. I have found doing such exercises rejuvenate me & are great for generating ideas. Step away from the computer & move, it will do wonders for your code.

3) Personal & Social Studies/Religious Education

beau cultures

Humanity can be beautiful… Don’t forget that.

Whenever I saw either PSE/RE on my school timetable, I smiled – not because of all the enriching knowledge I would gather but because I knew I could go to sleep… Literally. When I did pay attention, all the teachers talk about cultures, gods & philosophy bored the heck out of me… This would never get me a real job so why bother? But as I’ve grown older & made my way in the world, my knowledge of different religions and cultures have proved invaluable.

One day I was doing a temporary cover teaching job in a Hindu school and I was helping another teacher organising a play about Diwali, very special Hindu festival to celebrate good defeating evil. Diwali was a subject that we read about in school so as we were going through the plans, the teacher was really impressed with my knowledge of the characters and the customs and she told the headmaster of my deeds. Long story short, this led me to getting more teaching gigs in the future.

Wait a minute, don’t worry – I’m not trying to convert you to any particular religion or belief. Regardless of what ever your belief system is, there is one thing that binds them all together: people. It doesn’t matter what computer language you learn or what start-up that you found. If you don’t know how to work with other people, treat people well and communicate effectively, then you are at a real disadvantage no matter how good you code. Awareness and respect of other people’s cultures and customs show that you’re knowledgeable, respectful and empathetic:  And this is the ultimate skill to master.

Thurgood Marshal said that “in recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Thank you for reading! What do you think of the subjects I chose? Did I miss any out? Please comment below or tweet me @karlwebdev.

See you next Thursday!

Karlwebdev

The Simple Idea That Helped Me Learn To Code Better

Reading Time: 5 minutes

4720969-obi-wan-kenobi-star-wars-5

I am fully on my way to becoming a coding Jedi Knight

Introduction

I have been teaching for 5 years and I always thought that I was fast learner. In July last year, I thought that within 6 months, I would be the Brad Pitt of Web Development… But I struggled miserably.

I studied the same way that I studied for every major exam: I read the books, watched the videos, took the notes, did the quizzes but I still struggled to align a paragraph let alone build a webpage.

I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong but then I came across a book called ‘The Slight Edge’ (click to see my review) and that changed my whole learning system.

I had to relearn how to learn.

As embarrassing as it was, the model that I got from a £10 book helped me more than the thousands that I spent on my teaching qualifications!

The Study, Do, Model Cyclestudydomod

The model is very simple and I will show you how I adapted this model to help me learn to code so far.

Study

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Pity. Fool.

 

Almost all of us who have been to school know this method really well: we read the books and take notes but for me this didn’t work. How times have you read a page from a book & forget all the content a minute later?

You must become an active learner.

Don’t just read the books but especially with the with coding, go to author’s website & do the projects that go with the book, read blogs & comment, listen to podcasts etc. You want your brain to be hit by as many different sensory inputs as possible: visually, auditorily & kinaesthetically and will make it more likely to stick in your brain!

Do

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Do It!!!

Reading and even watching the online videos is not enough, you must do it. Common sense right? But here’s the problem with most online resources: You will get a code challenge or task to do. You will pass it but you will never do it again. That’s not how we learn. We must repeatedly do similar tasks again and again for it to go from our short-term memory to our long-term memory. Repeatedly going over the same skill until you’ve mastered it is known as deliberate practice and this is what separates amateurs from masters. Productivity blogger James Clear describes deliberate practice as working “on a skill that requires one to 3 practice sessions to master”. In other words, the first time you pass that code challenge won’t make it stick a memory, kid.

You must create a deliberate system where deliberate practice is done regularly.

For me, this is done in two ways:

  1. After I learn the skill, I try where I can, to apply it to a personal project to see how it would work in real life.
  2. Create a physical flashcard and test myself regularly. Currently I’m using electronic version called ‘Anki’ (I’ll write a post on that later)

Constant repetitions make you become ‘fluent’ in your coding language, making it 2nd nature & leaving your brain to think creatively and able to deal with any challenges on the project.

Modelling

zoolander-2

Blue Steel.

You can learn to code from a book or even watching a video but nothing will ever compare with learning from a real life human being, period. Human beings are social animals and the way that we learn by observing & mimicking other humans. This has been hardwired into our brains & is our default setting, sorry folks.

But it goes deeper. Models give you critical feedback about your approach and how to improve your skill that can save you hours of frustrating online searches & mistakes. Andre 3000 had a great anecdote where he compared mentoring to playing a computer game with his teenage son. Andre said:

If you played that video game for the last two years and you’re proficient at it and I just jump on the game, you’re quickly going to say: ‘Hey, Dad, the trap is right there. When you get over there, you have to go, hop hop hop hop hop.’ Now, if you didn’t say that, it might take me a year to figure that out…So a mentor is: I’ve done this, so I’m helping you get past that place.

Finding models in the coding arena doesn’t have to be a scary thing. The code community is very friendly and very open and have very active communities all around the globe. Just look up ‘code meet ups’ and put your area in Google. If you are in the London/south east area, one place that’s helped me immensely is codebar – they run coding workshops for aspiring coders is especially from underrepresented communities. having a friendly face look over my code and help me has not only helped my code improve but been very motivating & encouraging.

Conclusion

If I were to weigh it, I would say that I do you weighting for each part should be a third overall. Of course there will be times where you might do one part more then the other but try to invest in all the other areas.

Think of the Study/Do/Model method like a tyre on the car: for the wheel to roll smoothly on the road of learning, each part must be filled. You can still drive with a 1/3 of air in the tyre but it will be a bumpy ride & you will be stopped by the police & fined!

Thank you for reading & leave some comments in my blog page and/or tweet me!

Karlwebdev