The official team meetup ended yesterday but I feel as if so much has happened between now and then. After a run through cleaning up the two houses, a smaller group of us jumped into a car. My teammate, Chris, and I are hanging around in New Zealand for a couple extra days and needed to be dropped off downtown. Here’s the view of the apartments where we’re staying:
As we got dropped off, the reality set in that I wouldn’t see my other team members for months. It was an odd sensation that turned into a longer goodbye than I think any of us expected. We finally parted ways though knowing we’d “see” each other on slack and the p2s. The rest of the day was spent talking, working, wandering to K Street (the “hipster part of town”), and people watching. Here are some of the cute shops we saw along the way:
Auckland isn’t overwhelming in the way San Francisco can be. On the other hand, I have noticed that there seems to be a lack of nice cafes like we have in San Francisco. After stumbling past a ton of eh restaurants searching for a good dinner spot, we finally came upon an almost passable entry way. After peaking in and seeing a crowd of people, we decided to check it out and I’m SO glad we did. Basically, there was a dining center surrounded by 6-7 restaurants all of which you could order from. All you had to do is tell the person who took your order what your table was and they brought you your food. We ended up basking in the brilliance of this idea and I fully think something like this should happen in the US. I know I’ll have to resist the urge to just go back here day after day. Plus, the food was amazing:
We headed back to our apartment by the water and proceeded to watch absurd TV shows on MTV until we both passed out.
I have to admit that waking up today felt a bit different than the other days. Rather than having a set schedule, I felt more at ease in Auckland without worrying about what my team might be up to that day. It felt like another “work” day at Automattic meaning 1) get food and 2) find wifi. After wandering around the city for a bit, we found a gem of a cafe to get coffee at.
From there, we headed to an internet cafe we passed the day prior. As a little bit of back history, the apartment we rented turned out to not have wifi! Needless to say, this was a bit of a curve ball for internet addicts like ourselves. This is where the internet cafe comes into play. While it wasn’t the prettiest of places to work, it was kind of fun to just be down there away from the street grinding out work:
Eventually, hunger overtook us and the search for food began again. After heading down a couple of random streets, we found a great side street with yet another cute cafe. Not only did we have the best iced coffee, they also had wifi!
After a couple of hours working there, Chris’ computer finally died which was the perfect excuse to leave. We snagged some groceries and headed home only to head back out to snag some ciders. Over dinner and drinks, conversation flowed through a variety of topics… gentrification and possible solutions to it, how absurd (and distracting) notifications are, mission trips and how futile most are, religion and the role it plays, on and on. The following are quick summaries of the back and forth conversations that were had:
Religion: I realized tonight that religion for me was a way to filter and solve intense emotional experiences. Being so young and be so intensely emotional, I was able to use a God figure to pray to as a way to talk through and resolve issues in my life. It wasn’t a crutch as much as it was a way of processing through a third party. Eventually, I reached an age where I realized I could talk to others more about such things and that I could face them myself rather than through God.
Technology: As simple example of what we talked about, I can only access my email if I log in through Safari on my phone as I have deleted all mail apps. Rather than being notified and forced to make a decision about each email that comes in, I make only one decision when to check my email and deal with it. Let’s put numbers to this. Over 3 hours, 20 emails come in. Each time an email comes in you are notified, distracted, and forced to make a decision. For me, over 3 hours I only make one decision and that is to simply check my email in a concentrated and purposeful way. I’ve found that thanks to small changes like this, I’m less distracted and more energized in a day. I have less app and notification fatigue. I feel technology isn’t taking me out of the moment but rather is something I can choose to engage in rather than be forced into engagement. Related note due to my week’s wifi experiences: what if wifi just shut off at 7pm each night? It just stopped working and you had to go do something else. I wish this existed in an automated way and as a part of our culture.
WordPress’ place in the blogging & website world: This discussion involved players like Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, etc. Mainly, we focused on Twitter and Tumblr. Each of these experiences are about engagement in terms of numbers: number of tweets, number of followers, number of tweets viewed/hour, etc. The same goes for Tumblr (number of reblogs, number of logins/day, number of followers, etc.). Where does WordPress fit into this and do we even want to fit into this scene? In my mind, I turn to WordPress when I have a free hour of deep thought or when I purposefully want to sit down and write. The engagement is different. While it may only last one session, it is one that runs deep. Previously, when I was on social media more my sessions were many but they were shallow. Rather than running from the deeper experience with a lack of engagement in the technical sense (one session but one that is longer), I think WordPress offers a great alternative to everything else that’s offered. Medium is an interesting comparison with a big focus on content but most of their content is a bit too polished in my mind as it’s often written by professional writers. What appeals to me about WordPress is the genuine depth and not just the intellectual depth that Medium might offer (& that WordPress also offers if you want to find it).
How the education system affects adulthood: While education prepares you mentally for work, it doesn’t seem to prepare you psychologically. The entire reward and feedback system changes when you’re an adult. Rather than getting good grades being the main goal, you’re now left without feedback in the same way. Rather than switching classes throughout the day, we’re often left to do the same task all day. Rather than spending all day learning, we now act as if work isn’t there to learn but for you to produce. In reality though, the learning has just changed from being in this box that is the classroom to being everywhere around you. Instead of progressing to college or to the next grade, we don’t have another clear box to check so we go to graduate school or become a manager because we seek out another potential step. It’s odd to go from an education system built to teach you as much as possible to a work world where they want to get as much as they can from you as possible. While I don’t feel this way personally about work, I know many who do.
The work week: I’ve heard multiple times that people 20 years ago (I honestly have no clue what time frame) thought we’d reach the point of the 4 day work week. Eventually, technology would reach the point where we could work less! What’s the reality now? We work more probably. All of these tools that were supposed to lessen our time working have just allowed us to work more outside of work. Chris gave an awesome example of how if there’s a manufacturer who can produce twice as much thanks to technology, rather than having their workers make the same amount yet work half as much we fire half the workforce. This only leaves the other half to do the same amount of work. This just gets replicated as technology advances and fewer people are needed. Rather than making everyone happy, we just keep grinding people down. Beyond just that, we spoke about how what if we only had to work 8-10 hours per week? Would people in our society even know what to do with this time? Would they end up craving the work more out of comfort or would we eventually realize how much else there is to do when we aren’t exhausted post work? Again, I’m lucky to not live this reality but to rather have flexibility.
Attachment types: The idea of attachment type as something that can too easily define you and as something that actually probably changes based on the context of the relationship. We both discussed what attachment types we thought we were as well as why we don’t feel we fit into one or another. I think I ended up defining myself as anxious & seeking rather than anxious & avoidant. I don’t avoid. I actively and passionately (& anxiously?) seek attachment.
All in all, it was a day of great conversations in the heart of Auckland with more great food and coffee than we could handle.