Around 3:30 AM on a Sunday night, I was sitting in a hotel room in Poland, winding down after dancing, reading an article that was telling me I should have left the dance floor hours ago. In the Danish newspaper Berlingske, Chris Macdonald’s article Den store løgn om søvn (The great lie about sleep) listed the effects of sleep deprivation: weak immune system, over-dependence on caffeine, high blood pressure, weight gain, and unhappiness. “The brain and pretty much all of the body’s biological processes suffer when you are sleep-deprived.”*
I was reading this at the worst possible time, towards the end of a long weekend of dancing all night and then dancing all day. But it was the conclusion that really stuck with me:
It took us a long time to start taking the dangers of cigarettes seriously. The same thing is happening with sleep today.*
I’m not the only one who is tired all the time. No one sleeps enough, and no one is taking it seriously.
Some of my co-workers seem to work around the clock. My parents don’t have any pattern to their sleep habits at all, as far as I can tell. And then there are my dance friends. Our lifestyle just doesn’t allow for sleep.
One of the big threats to my sleep is West Coast Swing. At West Coast Swing weekend events, people complain if the evening dance parties end before breakfast is served. You’re supposed to attend workshops during the day, compete in the afternoon, dance and party from evening until breakfast, then take a nap before your next workshop. If I want to leave the dance floor “early” (like I had left at 3 that Sunday night), or nap instead of taking a dance class, I hear “You can sleep when you’re dead.” or “You’re here to dance, not sleep.” But I can’t enter a voluntary coma when I return from dance weekends, so I have to sleep at some point during the weekend.
Back in Oslo, it’s hard to consistently go to bed early when I’m teaching or practicing until ten pm three times a week. And I tend to feel more alert in the evening, which makes my sleep schedule look a lot like this:
My combination of consulting work and late night dancing is pretty much a recipe for sleep deprivation. But I’ve certainly experienced worse – when I combined late-night dancing and starting work at 6AM.
The thing is, it’s not just me. There is this widespread idea that rest is for the weak. Rich people now have less leisure time than poor people. Although that statistic is made up of a lot of different factors (including involuntary under-employment), one important reason is that the most high-status, highly paid jobs are considered more interesting than free time. Even when we are not paid overtime, we would rather work too much than not work enough. Leisure is associated with boredom and uselessness.
But we need to appear boring and useless from the outside in order to let our bodies be productive on the inside.
So last week, when I found myself sitting in a circle of teenagers,talking about our current life goals (long story), I listed one of my own goals as “getting more sleep”. And although the teenagers probably thought I was joking, I consider that casual statement – and this post – as my official commitment to getting more sleep. Just because I can function on six hours a night, doesn’t mean I should. I deserve to be more alert, creative and happy, and less dark under my eyes.
Innlegget handler om folkeskikk for folk med smarttelefon. Så gi meg gjerne beskjed – i NRKs kommentarfelt, her på bloggen, på Twitter, Facebook eller i “virkeligheten” – om hva du synes om levereglene jeg foreslår.
Here are four things you need to know about Oslo, if you’re visiting this summer (especially if you’re a student or otherwise on a budget).
Oslo, as seen from a hike.
1. Whether you are arriving by boat or train (including airport express train ) your very first impression of Oslo is not likely to be amazing. It will get better. Revisit in a few years, and this part of the city could be very nice, but at the moment, it’s a mix of drug dealing, construction work and bland chain stores. With the exception of the new Opera House, get out of that central train station/lower half of Karl Johan street area fast. Go east, west, north, south – it will be a step up from this no matter what.
2. Norwegians never get enough sun. If it’s a sunny day, parks will be filled with people getting as much of it as they can. Norwegians believe that being indoors on a sunny day is sinful. I’m sure 80% of the summer activities Oslo-dwellers will recommend happen outdoors. About half of them will be variations on the drinking-beer-in-a-park activity. See rule number 3.
3. Alcohol in Norway is tricky. Because of taxes and regulations, it will be more expensive than you are used to, and harder to find. This is not really a problem if you get used to it. Actually, this is really annoying. Beer can be bought in grocery stores until 8 PM on weekdays and 6 PM on Saturdays. Wine and spirits must be bought at “Vinmonopolet” (literally, The Wine Monopoly), the one “chain” of stores allowed to sell this. These stores usually close at 6 PM on weekdays and around 3 on Saturdays. And you can’t buy anything on Sunday, of course. Bars don’t follow these rules, but they will be more expensive than you are used to. Again, get away from Karl Johan, or think like a Norwegian and drink grocery store beer in a park. This is technically not legal, but no one cares as long as you’re not being a nuisance.*
Want this? Plan ahead!
4. Norwegians do not eat out much. Although you’ll probably find every kind of coffee shop, sandwich place and restaurant in Oslo, the Norwegian way to eat is to have breakfast and dinner at home and bring sandwiches wrapped in paper to work/school or eat in the office cafeteria. Coffee shops are excellent, but there are limited options for simple lunches and dinners, and anything a step up from fast food is likely to be expensive. This is because restaurants cater to people who are out for a special treat, not yet another every-day dinner. So if you’re on a budget, you can’t afford to not visit grocery stores. In a pinch, you can buy quick ready-made meals at 7-Eleven or DeliDeLuca – they are everywhere – but it will be cheaper and healthier to shop in a supermarket and prepare your own sandwich or salad.
* I’m sure some readers are rolling their eyes at how much space I’m giving this alcohol issue. But if you’re a student from a country where you’re used to just buying a bottle of wine whenever for whatever price you feel like paying, and you’re arriving in Oslo at 2 PM on a Saturday, you’ll be glad you read this.
I finally made myself watch the “Look up!” video that’s been circling social media lately, using the very thing it’s criticizing to spread its message. And it really bothered me. Here it is:
This idea that you cannot personally connect with someone digitally is old-fashioned and in my opinion deeply unsocial. I don’t think my relationship with my boyfriend would exist today if we didn’t have access to digital communication when we were starting our relationship. This video completely ignores the fact that many people love other people who do not live within walking distance (and it’s filmed in London, a city with lots of distance).
Argh. Stop worrying so much. This is what you need to do in order to be a decent person with a smart phone:
Don’t have your face pointed at your phone screen when you are supposed to be socializing with an in-the-flesh friend who made the effort to get to the same geographic location as you to talk to you in person.
Do feel free to stare at your screen on public transportation. That’s a great time to catch up on the news, read a book, send a message to a friend, read your e-mail and do all sorts of other productive and possibly very social things. Don’t worry – public transportation used to look like this:
Don’t assume that reading a book is inherently better than looking at a screen. I spend so much of my screen-looking time reading books (with my Kindle app).
Do be thankful that if you feel sad and need to talk to a close friend, you can talk on the phone, send messages or even communicate through video. Yes, a hug is better than a video conference, but a video conference is much, much better than simply not being able to communicate because you cannot physically meet.
Do have good conversations. They can happen in person, over the phone, through long e-mails or letters, via text or instant messaging, or video chat. But use the communication tools at your disposal to really explore another person’s thoughts and ideas, and get to know the people you really think of as your friends.
Don’t feel the need to do that last one with everyone who friends you on Facebook. Just because Facebook uses the word “friend” about everyone from your best kindred spirit to that guy you said hi to at a party last night, doesn’t mean you can’t know the difference.
Don’t share important personal moments on social media as they happen. Let the idea that you just graduated, got engaged or had a child sink in before you broadcast it.
Do make sure everyone involved is ok with sharing those important moments when you eventually tell the world.
Do check your phone every now and then when you are at a party or other social gathering that lasts for a while. Maybe your friend got lost on the way to the party. Maybe there is an emergency. But check your calls, texts and maybe your Facebook messages or email. Not Facebook newsfeed, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. People will not use Instagram to warn you about an impending disaster that only you can fix.
Don’t worry about other peoples’ social media posts. Stop acting as if pictures of other peoples’ breakfast (or dog or feet or painted fingernails) pose a threat to our society. Go read some real news.
Dumb people are a bigger problem than smart phones.
That sentence is going to be my new catchphrase.
There. Was that so hard? Sorry it didn’t rhyme.
Update May 28th 2014:Felicity Morse writes for The Independent that Gary Turk, creator of “Look up!” is represented by a company that “connects brands with social video influencers” and is helping him make money from people staring at screens. She also writes:
“Directly contradicting Turk are the huge number of posts on Twitter, Facebook or even Reddit that contain unadulterated emotion, expressed much more truthfully than might be possible face to face. (…) One of the reasons Turk’s video has gone viral is down to people’s desire to spread positivity and remain connected, an altruistic impetus only amplified by social media.”
… but that is another more complex story, which deserves its own blog post.
At Feminspire, Rachael Kay Albers essentially wrote the blog post I intended to write: Why I never play hard to get. (She didn’t mention Robin Thicke).
“When we structure romantic relationships so that one party is considered a prize of conquest, won only by someone strong enough to fight past objections and overcome enough Nos to reach the Holy Grail of Yes, how can we expect that this blurred view of consent won’t bleed into our sexual relationships, as well? If No means Maybe, I don’t know, I mean… at a bar, in a text, or on a date, when does it starting meaning No again?”
From a young age, girls are taught that to get a guy to like you, you should dress to get attention, and then play hard to get so he won’t think you’re too into him. So not only are we teaching guys that girls are confusing and don’t mean what they say, but we are teaching girls that no means yes. And that’s stupid for so many reasons, but it can also be flat out dangerous. If you say No, Maybe or I really shouldn’t when you mean YES – what are you supposed to say when you mean No, Maybe or I really shouldn’t?
Start with this description of teenagers at a high school football game in 2010:
(M)any were texting frantically while trying to find one another in the crowd. Once they connected, the texting often stopped. (…) And even though teens are frequent texters, the teens were not directing most of their attention to their devices. When they did look at their phones, they were often sharing the screen with the person sitting next to them, reading or viewing something together.
The parents in the stands were paying much more attention to their devices. They were even more universally equipped with smartphones than their children, and those devices dominated their focus. I couldn’t tell whether they were checking email or simply supplementing the football game with other content, being either bored or distracted. But many adults were staring into their devices intently, barely looking up when a touchdown was scored. And unlike the teens, they weren’t sharing their devices with others or taking photos of the event.
It’s an anecdote, but given how much research boyd has worked on about kids’ use of cell phones and digital media, I trust that it illustrates a general tendency: Digital natives use social media and smart phones for actual socializing. Or as danah boyd puts it: "Most teens aren’t addicted to social media; if anything, they’re addicted to each other."
I was long out of high school in 2010, but I am still young enough to be labeled a digital native. Last Friday night, I hung out in a friend’s apartment with Indian take-out, wine and a group of other 20-something girls. We all used our phones, as well as the host’s laptop, throughout the evening. One of us posted an image of the Indian take-out menu on Facebook, tagged the whole group, and thanked the girl who recommended the restaurant to us. We video-chatted – together – with a friend who lives far away and couldn’t be there. We all took Buzzfeed’s privilege quiz (separately – it has some very personal questions) and discussed the questions and our results. And of course we listened to playlists on Spotify (including automatically generated hit lists based on what other people listen to) and texted with another friend about which bar we would go to later. But we didn’t sit next to each other and stare at our individual screens – why would we do that?
The people I hang out with who actually turn away from me to scroll through Twitter, like a bunch of random photos on Instagram or write a comment on a recently-posted Facebook photo, are always older than me.