I have always been more toward the pessimistic side of things. I consider the worst possible alternatives first. Then I build up toward a working balance of positive and negative. As George Bernard Shaw once put quite appropriately – “The world needs both, the optimist and the pessimist. The optimist invents the airplane, the pessimist does the parachute.” – I too am a firm believer of pessimism not being wrong per se. The recent issue I’ve had is with self-improvement applications.
With all that pessimism and having friends and family like every other person bound by the norms of society, I too am mostly bombarded with the usual taunts and comments. So, I installed a mood tracking application a couple of months ago, to get insight on just how negative I really was at an average. Turns out, not so much. I was 69% positive in December 2016 and I’ve been 75% positive this far into January with just five days left for the month to change.
The application is called MoodCast and is developed by 2 App Studio. It lets you add activities, reminders, social media connections for automatic mood calculation and their own journal application called Journey which I use a lot. There is also Diary – Mood Tracker (earlier Daylio) which does pretty much the same thing in a worse interface. I started with Diary – Mood Tracker and moved to MoodCast once it was released. I’m brand loyal that way. Also, it’s a thousand times fluid and easier to use, even though it is a rip-off in terms of features.
The tracking was going fine but there was a problem that I started noticing. I was marking my mood better than it was even though this was not a public feed. This was self-improvement yet I was lying to the screen. Hence the 6% increase in positivity even though I had similar months.
Something not exactly similar but on the same grounds has happened with me while using an application called Lumosity. It’s an application that claims to improve your cognitive, memory and reasoning skills. The app has fun mini-games that allegedly improve the user’s skills. I felt a slight push in my awareness when I started using it so I recommended it to several friends. One such friend concluded a few months later and I agreed with him. He said, “Lumosity only taught me how to win at its games instead of increasing my overall cognitive abilities.” He was right. I too had become quite adept at winning and scoring high on Lumosity’s games. How much had my mental awareness and capacity increased in the same time? It’s quite hard to say.
I had a similar experience with a website called Code Academy. It uses interactive tutorials to teach code. Obviously. The name gave it away. So, I did Code Academy’s HTML and CSS course. It was fun. It had stages and levels and I completed it quite quickly. However, when I sat with a text editor open and ready to code. I was clueless. I knew how to win Code Academy’s game but had not learnt half as much code.
Code Academy’s testimonials say otherwise though with experts recommending it and people thanking it. I have had success with Coursera and Udacity before maybe because they use traditional teaching via computers and IT instead of using computers and IT to teach. Maybe it’s a personal flaw but I can guess at least one person in a score of people might have the same issue.
Personal flaws apart. I feel there is something missing in this whole mumbo-jumbo of applications out there for learning and tracking where you think or where they make you believe that you’re learning or improving. However, all you’re doing is increasing your clockwork at solving puzzles or lying to yourself. I think the way we live our lives, lying on the internet or at least mildly exaggerating on how amazing our lives are that it somehow creeps into all the self-improvement applications and websites we use on our screens.