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In which John discusses what he wants to leave behind in 2017.

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Good morning Hank. It's Tuesday. So, at the end of every year I write myself two letters; one to the me from the past who just survived the year, and one to the me from the future who's going to be living in next year. And I look at the successes and failures and joys and heartbreaks of the last year and then make goals for next year. This is a thing that was suggested by my therapist, and initially, I responded to it with the same suspicion I reserve for all therapy things.

But actually, I've found it incredibly helpful because, first, it offers an opportunity for reflection, and I feel like there aren't enough of those in our culture right now. It also gives you an opportunity to think about what from 2017 you want to bring in to 2018, and what you want to leave behind. So today I thought I would write kind of an open, public version of that letter to myself in the hopes of improving accountability called 'Leave it in 2017!'

Alright, listen up future me, there's a few things that current me is going to recommend you leave behind in 2017, beginning with 'the feed'. You know what I'm talking about, the fact that you spend hours every day passively scrolling through information on the internet that does not leave you better informed or happier. I'm not saying that the social internet is inherently good or bad, I'm saying that right now it's bad for you, so you're gonna 'Leave it in 2017!' At least for a few months until your resolve begins to crack because the social media algorithms have so effectively hacked your dopamine receptors.

Slight tangent, but the reasons your social media feeds aren't making you happier or better informed is that they're not trying to. The algorithms are designed to keep you scrolling, to maximize the amount of time you spend on the site and, ergo, the number of ad impressions you provide, and the algorithms are very good at that. But on the other hand John, you have a habit of believing that something, say the social internet, for instance, is going to be the solution to all of humanity's problems, and then when it fails to deliver, you have a habit of over-correcting and announcing that, for instance, 'The social internet is nothing but a pile of burnt garbage'.

But, both those extremes are completely invalid so we are leaving those wild swings behind in 2017 as well and instead, embracing something called nuance. 

Speaking of wild swings, let's talk about sports. So, sports are great, but with AFC Wimbledon currently in the League One relegation zone, and Liverpool tossing away 3-0 leads like Luke Skywalker chucking light sabers, too much of your mental well-being depends upon the sporting endeavors of 11 mostly 20-something strangers who live 5000 miles away from you. I'm not saying don't care, I'm saying don't shout 'Everything is ruined, all your dreams will die!' at the television in front of your children. 

Alright, four more things you're leaving in 2017:

One - Prioritising your career over your sanity. That's dumb! Stop doing that.

Second - drinking more than two La Croix per day. I mean, La Croix is great, but show some restraint! 

Three - Being snarky in the comments when you feel the urge to provoke, or to respond to trolling, or to meet hostility with hostility. Just stop!

And lastly, somewhat related, let's leave in 2017 the notion that the avatar is the person, and instead try to remember that everyone we encounter online and off is fighting battles that we don't know about. 

There's also lots I want to keep from 2017: the life-changing magic of regular exercise, the value of real-life events to celebrate usually virtual communities, and the reminders of why I love not only writing, but also sharing my writing even if it's a smidge terrifying.

I'd love to know in comments what you're going to hold on to from 2017, and also what you're going to leave behind.

Hank! Happy New Year. I will see you on Friday.