Fear and the Art of Missing Out

Gallup conducted a study on social media usage by teens across the United States. The results are summarized in the first paragraph of the post.

Just over half of U.S. teenagers (51%) report spending at least four hours per day using a variety of social media apps such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), a Gallup survey of more than 1,500 adolescents finds. This use amounts to 4.8 hours per day for the average U.S. teen across seven social media platforms tested in the survey.

I would venture to guess the average social media user—teen or otherwise—doesn’t have 4.8 hours per day to consume content. That seems high, but maybe not. I saw a person run into a display with a shopping cart because they were watching TikTok videos—their phone cradled in the child’s seat. I’ll admit that Costco isn’t the most exciting place to be on a Thursday evening, but does it need to be?

I left traditional social media in 2020—Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, everything. I’ve missed out on a lot of exciting content: deals on Facebook Marketplace, discussions in different appraisal groups, AI-generated thought pieces on LinkedIn, a view into the lives of people from my high school, and the latest trends promulgated on TikTok.

It gets easier.

February 8, 2024

Reality on Reality’s Terms

Apple announced Apple Vision Pro and visionOS at WWDC earlier this month. They are positioning it as an augmented reality (AR) instead of a virtual reality (VR) device. It could change the bond between our digital and physical worlds as much as the iPhone did in 2007. Imagine not needing a television or a display for your workstation anymore. Imagine the possibilities of a device like this if you work in a loud office with an open, collaborative floor plan. I’m unsure where else AR devices like Apple Vision Pro will fit into my life, but I know they will change and strengthen that bond in ways we haven’t considered.

It’s interesting to think about our relationship with technology. I recently sat behind another driver in a left-turn lane at a busy intersection. He missed the green arrow while using his phone. I didn’t honk. Once he realized he’d sat through the light, panic set in. He bumbled into the intersection, stopping oncoming traffic and nearly causing an accident or worse.

Words like emergency and crisis are overused, but this was the behavior of a person in distress. Maybe he had received notice that his partner or child had been hurt. Perhaps he’d learned he got a promotion that required him to move to a different city. Either situation is worthy of attention. It isn’t fair to speculate beyond that.

We’re all sitting through more stoplights because of phone misuse, but the bond between the digital and physical isn’t all negative. My iPhone enhances or directly enables some of the most important things I do. The ability to access the world’s collective knowledge at a moment’s notice is a miracle we take for granted. But watching that driver made me reflect on my device usage and the bond between my digital and physical worlds.

The digital world is addictive; for me, it’s listening to stuff. Stuff could be podcasts, audiobooks, music, or even white noise, though I prefer brown noise. If I’m doing the dishes or cutting the grass, it feels like an emergency if my AirPods run out of battery. Leaving them behind in a hotel room and not realizing until I’m on an airplane and can’t buy another pair in the terminal, crisis.

AirPods state Bond Perceived threat level
Battery dead Stressed Emergency
Lost Broken Crisis

Seeing these feelings in a table puts things into perspective.

Everyone has a unique relationship with devices and technology. Relationships require maintenance and occasional renegotiation. Mindful use will pay dividends as our devices become more engaging. Renegotiation is always easier from a position of strength. I’m trying to listen to stuff more intentionally. It isn’t easy.

June 23, 2023


Americans love restaurants with a drive-thru. As of mid-2022, 75% of sales at quick service restaurants (QSR) were drive-through. I’ve appraised several proposed Starbucks locations where Starbucks has opted to close its in-line store and build a free-standing store with drive-thru access within eyesight. A local Chick-fil-A franchisee in the Richmond market recently demolished its existing store and rebuilt it to optimize vehicle stacking for drive-thru customers. If you take the figure above at face value, this makes sense. Drive by any Starbucks during your morning commute or a Chick-fil-A during peak meal time, and you’ll understand the importance of drive-thru access.

I worked closely with a Zaxby’s franchisee on an appraisal a couple of years ago. He explained that it isn’t uncommon for a customer to go through the drive-thru at one of his stores—sometimes waiting behind several cars, only to purchase a single piece of garlic toast. Stacking matters if you have a vehicle taking up valuable drive-thru space to buy a piece of bread.

Starbucks is well suited for a drive-thru format. Drinking coffee while driving is hassle-free compared to offerings at other QSRs. I don’t understand the appeal of eating food purchased through a drive-thru. We’ve all done it. Eating in a vehicle is a terrible experience. It’s messy—especially with kids—and your interior will smell weird for the next 48 hours. This may explain the proliferation of drive-thru car washes with free vacuums.

Everyone has attempted the move where you take your food out of the bag and flatten it to create a placemat for your lap, only to realize later that the bag has already been soaked with grease. I have an unreasonable aversion to stains. Few things are worse than ruining your pants, except doing it when running so late to an appointment that you attempted to eat while driving.

A free business plan for Gap, Kohl’s, or any other clothing retailer:

  1. Locate any area with four or more QSRs, preferably one with a Chick-fil-A, because they sell a lot of chicken.
  2. Map the traffic pattern to determine where customers travel after leaving.
  3. Build a store selling business casual clothing about five miles away, preferably with a drive-thru.

May 17, 2023

Maiden Voyage

I want to welcome you to my blog. I’ll spare you an introduction and invite you to visit the About page to learn more about me and my other projects. My goal in starting this blog is to discuss technology, the realities of freelance work, topics related to appraisal, real estate more broadly, and other things that interest me.

May 6, 2023