I've been thinking a lot lately about the part I play in today's societal challenges. We are facing so many large issues–from climate crisis, privacy rights violations, gun control, LGBTQ rights, access to affordable health care, wealth and pay inequities, eldercare abuse, women's rights, homelessness, criminal justice reform, election fraud, and beyond–and it's daunting to figure out where and how to contribute.
At times, I've been overwhelmed by these topics. It's felt like I'm not doing my part or that my part doesn't matter. But every small change matters, and I belive that enough small changes can lead to massive shifts.
I've always appreciated the proverb, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." I've recently started the following small steps, and I'm sharing theses here in hopes that maybe you, too, will consider a few of your own.
- I'm not ordering from Amazon as often. Sure, I still place an order here and there, but I've slowed it down significantly. I'm more interested in purchasing what I can locally and from local merchants. When I do place an order, I generally opt for regular shipping. For most things, I just don't need it overnight or in two days. Reducing the environmental waste of cardboard boxes and reducing the amount of delivery vehicles clogging our arteries is important.
- I've switched my default search engine on my laptop, phone, and tablet to DuckDuckGo. I've also switched to using Brave as my default browser. For too long, I've not paid enough attention to privacy, and I'm tired of how large tech companies are using my data and how much power we're giving them with this information.
- I've removed all content from Facebook. I still have an account, but that's because my account is tied to our company account, and I haven't bothered to change that yet. I don't have the Facebook app on any of my devices. The same applies for Instagram.
- I still have a Twitter account. I use a service that auto-archives tweets. I don't know if this is helpful, but it makes me feel better.
- I very rarely order food delivery at home, and we now buy our food for the office at local grocery stores. The food delivery economy is not fair or just to its workers, and it also produces a ton of waste.
- I have a garden! Many folks might think they can't have a garden because they don't have the space. That's not true. There are plenty of ways to grow certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs indoors. It's super satisying to make food that is directly from my garden.
- When I have to fly, I will often purchase carbon offsets. While most of my work is by video, chat, and email, I travel to Europe, UK, or around the US for business trips a few times a year. There's debate about the efficacy of these offsets, so I'm open to other suggestions, but this seems to be the best mechanism to offsetting the tremendous environmental cost of flying at the moment.
- I'm not traveling long distances for vacations. It turns out that living in California has some great benefits. Within a short distance, I can be in some of the most amazing environments without the hassle and stress of airports. I read somewhere that there are more than 100,000 commercial flights each day. That's insane.
- When I'm able to do it, I donate money and time to the charities, causes, and candidates I support. Every little bit counts, especially to locally-focused groups. "Think globally, act locally" is another phrase that has always made sense to me. We have to start in our own neighborhoods and communities.
- I bike to work. It's not every day and candidly there's no excuse for it not being a more regular thing.
There's always room for improvement. My focus has been on doing something, even if it's a small something. I'd love to also volunteer my time to a charity and maybe even sit on a board. I'll be doing some research and outreach in this area over the coming months.
I fear that future generations are going to look back on these first couple of decades of the technology revolution with disdain. The way technology and data is currently being used is frightening, and the decrease in interpersonal connections is unfortunate. Beyond the above steps, I've also reduced my screentime, removed news and social apps from my devices, and I've turned off all notifacations and alerts. I'm trying to be more present and balanced in life. It's a work in progress.
As I read this post, I recognize that it might sound like I'm preaching. That's not my intention and far from the reality. Frankly, I'm a bit ashamed to not be doing more. I had to start somewhere, and I hope that sharing about my path helps others.