social media unhappiness and the pleasure of ghosting

I. Up until yesterday, I was going to be a teaching assistant for the Science of Happiness. Part of the “why” for teaching the class that the professor gave was that, since 2012, there seems to be accelerating levels of anxiety and stress in the undergraduate population. Still, I’ve done the readings for the first few lectures,

II. I thought I’d escaped the “social media anxiety” clusterfk, since I almost never check Facebook, instead sticking to Messenger and other 1-on-1 conversations.

III. News articles reported that reading other people’s happy stories made people unhappy; my responsive was to aggressively share all my failures. I felt validated when I saw that other people were in fact forming spontaneous gatherings to share startup failures.

IV. Yesterday a friend told me that I was basically live-tweeting my life at them, and it was stressing them out.

Turns out I was causing other people anxiety — I was contributing to the social media anxiety circle! This caused me to take a step back and realize I was also feeling a great deal of anxiety talking to all my friends online. Somehow my rat brain had decided that if someone had read a message (per read receipt) and didn’t respond within an hour or twelve, PROBABLY THEY HATED ME FOREVER.

VI. With any sort of introspection, I’d probably say my anxiety about communication frequency mismatches started with my first pseudo-relationship (my first love!) where my ex just ghosted me instead of being up-front and ending the relationship.

But you know what? We’re still friends, and pretty good ones at that, some years later.

So even if my friends read all my posts and yet never respond to me, we’re almost certainly still friends and would be warm toward each other in real life.

To be fair, it wasn’t just my ex ghosting me, —
actually, I won’t post what other bad things have happened to me, since I can feel my own anxiety levels rising just thinking about them.

VII. Earlier today I impulsively uninstalled or otherwise hid all my chat apps (signal, hangouts, whatsapp, and my two messenger accounts I use in mobile browsers) from my phone today. I also uninstalled pidgin on my laptop, which is my conduit to hangouts and messenger on desktop.

(I did forget to get my Signal passcode before I impulsively uninstalled it, so my 2GB backup file is worthless now. But, who really needs that history anyway!)

And wow! I’ve found ghosting people to be really pleasant and enjoyable on the other side. It’s really nice to clear my head of six ongoing asychronous conversations and their respective statuses in my head, and feel the solid bedrock of my friendships with people underneath all the noise.

To be fair, I’m not sure how pleasant this would be outside of classes. As school has started, I’ve gotten a lot more in-person social time with people I actually enjoy hanging out with. The regularity of that contact, as well as the camaraderie of working together in classes, has been really nice for me. I realized I haven’t had that in my actual work (research), and was constantly flailing around anxiously in search of it.

Yea, it actually feels really, really nice to have hours of regular, pleasant, in-person human interaction replace my anxiety-riddled online texting of friends.

VIII. Here’s a nice song summarizing this blog post:
“Lewberger – Facebook Break Official Music Video”

In particular, the “six hours” part 🙂

Keeping my Thinkpad battery ship-shape on Ubuntu (19.10)

Recently, I felt like my laptop battery (Lenovo Thinkpad) was draining a lot faster than before. I’m not sure if something triggered a particular spike, but I looked into it and found it’s really easy for me to adopt better battery practices on Ubuntu.

First, to find out just how sad my battery is, I used the command

upower -i $(upower -e | grep '/battery')
  native-path:          BAT0
  vendor:               LGC
  model:                01AV457
  serial:               969
  power supply:         yes
  updated:              Wed 07 Aug 2019 01:56:41 PM ADT (40 seconds ago)
  has history:          yes
  has statistics:       yes
    present:             yes
    rechargeable:        yes
    state:               discharging
    warning-level:       none
    energy:              28.85 Wh
    energy-empty:        0 Wh
    energy-full:         40.02 Wh
    energy-full-design:  56 Wh
    energy-rate:         7.468 W
    voltage:             15.958 V
    time to empty:       3.9 hours
    percentage:          72%
    capacity:            70.8929%
    technology:          lithium-polymer
    icon-name:          'battery-full-symbolic'
  History (charge):
    1565197001	72.000	discharging
  History (rate):
    1565197001	7.468	discharging

My full battery is 56 Wh, and now it’s only 40 Wh two years in! Nearly a (16/56) = 30% decrease!

Whew. That means if I had 6.5 hours of battery life before, now I have only 5 hours.

So, I looked up online. The key things to do are

1) Change the threshold for starting/stopping battery charging, to stop the battery from charging to 100%
2) Keep the laptop plugged in more, and
3) Keep the laptop cool

Guess I need to figure out a way to use my laptop in bed without setting it on the blankets. Or, get a proper desk and table.

Here’s the deets.


For maximum lifespan if you rarely use the battery, set Custom charge thresholds to start charging at 40% capacity and stop at 50%, and keep the ThinkPad cool. The thresholds can be adjusted in the Battery Maintenance settings of the Lenovo Power Manager.

If you do use your battery somewhat frequently, set the start threshold at say 85% and stop at 90%. This will still give a good lifespan benefit over keeping it charged to 100%.

The simplest way to optimize for battery lifespan is to select Automatic in the Power Manager Battery Maintenance settings, and let it manage your battery charge thresholds for you.

And from

About battery discharge, it is better not to allow battery to reach full discharge before recharging it. Best care for Li battery is keeping it between 20-80 %. Avoid low discharge and overcharge . Battery drain should only be done to calibrate wrong battery recognition or if there is a battery problem.
Now, how to do this in Ubuntu? Turns out it’s really easy for thinkpads.

Note: TLP and ThinkPad-related packages below are available via the official Ubuntu repository. Nevertheless it is recommended to use the PPA to stay with the latest TLP version.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw 
sudo apt-get install tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-dkms
rui@chaiX1YG2:~$ sudo tlp setcharge 70 90 BAT0
Setting temporary charge thresholds for BAT0:
  stop  = 90
  start = 70
rui@chaiX1YG2:~$ sudo tlp start
TLP started in battery mode

Or, for a permanent change, edit the file “/etc/default/tlp

rui@chaiX1YG2:~$ sudo vi /etc/default/tlp

And uncomment the lines (around line 273)


setting the thresholds to whatever you think is best.

Shortly before I head out, I’ll probably run
sudo tlp setcharge 70 80 BAT0
since 3 to 4 hours of battery life is plenty for me. But I do want to be conservative since my power button no longer works, so if it completely dies then I have to unscrew the back cover and unplug the battery + CMOS battery briefly, then plug in/screw in/plug in power charger in order to start it again. I really only have myself to blame, not thinkpad — I’m sure it has something to do with shorting 24V / 3 amps through the USB port when I was working on motor controller things for my final project in underactuated robotics. Yea… that wasn’t great, and I’m really impressed the laptop survived and the USB port even still works!