Whining Is A Habit

by | Aug 31, 2016 | 28 comments

Office at the beach

Dear Helen,

I know I’m difficult to work with, and my idea of business is not that of the rest of the world. But if you could listen I’d be most grateful.

This evening I watched a car park pretty much on top of a restaurant, so they didn’t have to walk far. A lady got out first, a little plump with sunglasses on. She got out elegantly, despite doing it one-handed, staring at her phone.
Two kids crawled out straight after, staring at their phones, and Dad a few moments later. He’d had to drive. Judging by where he’d parked, I don’t imagine he’d driven far. But still, he could have missed something important, so before getting out he made sure that something, probably Facebook, was loaded so he could stare at it whilst walking the five yards to the restaurant door.

Overall Helen, it would have been a grotty night out, because none of them would have gotten off their phones.

I hate social media, do I really have to do it? I know it’s good for business, but still, I don’t want to be part of ruining this family’s tea.
And no, it wasn’t ‘Pokemon Go’, you can always tell when it’s ‘Pokemon Go’.

– Richard


The answer was ney.
So I’ve had to get the camera out and bombard Instagram with several overdue images of what we’ve been doing.
Just don’t take a look whilst eating your tea…


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About Richard Maguire

About Richard Maguire

As a professional hand tool woodworker, Richard found hand tools to be the far more efficient solution for a one man workshop. Richard runs 'The English Woodworker' as an online resource and video education for those looking for a fuss free approach to building fine furniture by hand. Learn More About Richard & The English Woodworker.


  1. Bill

    My birthday is coming in a month. I plan to stay on Instagram, but my gift to myself this year will be killing Facebook, among other things to help aid my personal development. I’m with you on the phone to the face thing. I bought my first smartphone 1 year ago, before that I would only carry a flip phone. It’s sad to see families out to dinner together physically, but everyone of them is face down in their phones. The connectivity we have today is a great thing in someways, but a major handicap in others. It will be interesting to see how culture changes in the next 20-30 years as a result. I’ll probably end up living in the woods somewhere, with my tools of course, and hopefully my wife will come with me.

    • Richard Maguire

      I certainly like the sound of that… in the woods with my tools. Saying that, too long on your own does things to you.
      I can’t see how the phone culture will ever better people, it seems to be disconnecting us instead of connecting us.
      Good luck killing Facebook…

  2. Charles

    Social media, like dentist visits and colonoscopies are a necessary evil. In business I guess the parallel would be a visit to your accountant. You ignore them at your peril.

    Le sigh…I too hate social media. I feel your pain Richard.

    Have a cup of tea or a pint and it will get better.

    • Richard Maguire

      Thanks Charles, well put.
      Now then, the tea. I’ve been doing the social media whilst drinking tea, and you’re right it makes it better.

  3. Porfirio

    Ah the irony….I feel the same as you towards social media..I’m quite a bit older than you and not so much a woodworker as a wood butcher…though I am trying to learn and consider my self lucky to have found your place on the web as a wonderful source of inspiration and learning. I suppose one has to glean what is important to oneself and discard the rest. Keep up the good fight. Oh and thanks.

    • Richard Maguire

      Thanks Porfirio, I hope you found us through Social Media… then I’d know it’s worth while 😉
      Thanks for your support.

  4. Joe

    The older I get (I’m 48), the less and less I like smart phones. Folks seem absorbed by them and I’ve gotten in a few arguments with my wife when we are supposed to be watching or doing something together. It’s almost like some evil sci fi plot coming to fruition.

    • Richard Maguire

      That hits it right on the head, it’s not the concept of it, it’s the addictiveness.

  5. Lance S

    I for one am glad to see you posting more on Instagram. I love your projects, the way you go about teaching, and the work you and Helen do to encourage beginning woodworkers like me. And I never check my Instagram during important moments in life, just while I’m at work 🙂

    • Richard Maguire

      Arr, you see, you’ve got it right. Using it without letting it take over, thank you

  6. Jasper

    Does it help if I cheer up your incoming twitter feed now and then?
    You’ll then do something stupid and useless but still enjoy yourself.

    You’re not spoiling my tea or dinner. I only use the big screen machine, and fail at doing two things at once.

    • Richard Maguire

      Thank Jasper that might help, I could do with something stupid and useless.

  7. lars

    It could be perilous to interject in a conversation that has the stamp of a long lasting exchange, but I’ll give it a go and hope not being completely derailed.

    I am convinced that you would be a fantastic success on SM, but I’m also convinced that you would own your success to : your accent, certain uses of language, the mouse in your dinner…
    Personally I love it, but it is not the reason why I follow you and your activity on your site.
    The icing is nice, but personally I come for the cake.
    And it is not the interest/value of what you share.

    I would think that the SM would lead to more icing than cake ans the taste would make it something very different.

    Whatever the choice, I am extremely happy to have “discovered” your site, blogs, rants and videos, whatever the path, I’ll follow.

    • Richard Maguire

      Thanks Lars, I hear exactly what you’re saying. We’ll try to keep to as much cake as possible – it goes better with tea.. icing wrecks your tea.

  8. Daryll

    I agree with you 100%. I just love it when they bump into you after you have tried to avoid them and they blame you for “getting in their way” all while staring at the screen of the device in their hands.

    • Richard Maguire

      No one’s had a go at me yet, but I have had them bump in to me.

  9. Rich Prehn

    I feel for you brother. I really do.

  10. Michael O'Brien

    Richard, I agree with you on social media. At 73, I am very computer and iPhone/Pad adept, but my wife and I have always refused to do Facebook unlike the rest of our family members including our sons and daughters. I feel no impulsive need to post online what type of cereal I had for breakfast, how many errands I have to run today or what kind of toothpaste I prefer. I am too busy doing things I enjoy like woodworking , Nature photography and taking care of my small farm. Instagram or Flickr are OK, but not a necessity either. Being in business like you are, you do have to have a bit of an online presence like your blog which I find as wonderfully informative as your courses I purchase. What you are doing online now works fine for me, Facebook would add nothing at all. And I have learned volumes of useful information from woodworking bloggers without ever using Facebook.
    Michael O’Brien
    Valley Head, AL, USA

  11. Daniel

    Richard, I’m one who is really grateful for your presence in cyber-space. I’m a bit isolated from hand-tool woodworkers out here in rural Australia and appreciate you sharing your knowledge and good humour. On the other hand though, if you started posting on Instagram ten times a day I’d probably stop following! In some way I think the sparsity of the morsels may make each one more delicious?!


  12. Dan

    Maybe I shouldn’t be fanning the flames but FB seriously violated the privacy of the patients of a psychiatrist. Some of her patients had shared their smart phone contacts list with FB and FB was able to correlate the connection between the patients and the psychiatrist. FB is Orwell’s Big Brother come to life.

  13. John Braga


    I am 73, and check my emails compulsively every 10 minutes. I email my teenage grandsons, but they hardly ever remember to switch their phones on or charge the batteries, so they are very slow to respond.

    The tech revolution seems reversed in my family.

    Back to woodwork (when I have checked my emails again)

  14. Alex

    Love the Instagram photos but a pity Instagram won’t allow you to save the images. Some of them would make great computer desktop wallpaper.

    • Jasper

      This is how it is done on a Windows PC with Firefox.

      On the Instagram user page, click to open the photo.
      Right click > View Page Info > Media.
      You will find the photo file in the list below, often at the bottom of the list.
      Pay attention to the number of pixels to get what you want.
      Select the file > Save As.

      Of course any copyright issues are yours, not mine 🙂

      • Alex

        Ah yes of course. Easy enough to find it in the page source. Thx.

  15. Eberhard

    It’s September 1’st today, so start tracking the time you spent on social media right now.
    If you find out on September 30 that in the amount of time spend on FB and the like you could have shot 2 minutes of new video for your paying customers, you have something on your hands to start negotiations about the issue.

    Maybe you should also start a (voluntary) survey to find out who are these men and women visiting your site.

    I would be really surprised if a significant amount of people would like to see more content from you on any of the social media platforms.

    3 more short remarks:
    – I really appreciate that you read and answer the comments on your blog (very social of you)
    – Instagram is currently on my NotSoBad list because I don’t need to sign up with an account to see your pictures. FaceBook is on NO!NO! list because the reinvented the nag screen to blackmail me for my private data.
    – You are the first company that made me want to pay for an instructional video and I really enjoyed the side table series. To me it looks like you found a working business model. Hope you bank account says the same so we can have
    “Return of the Giant Side Table” and “I know what you glued up last summer”

  16. Chris Decker

    I commend you for biting the bullet! I hope it serves as some consolation to you that Instagram is one of the most pleasant experiences of my day because I can instantly be flooded with images of woodworking accomplishments and processes that educate and motivate me. I have a fantastic job with an extremely well-known corporation that enables me to provide a great life for my wife and 3 little ones. But I am far removed from my woodworking passion (habit? addiction?). So, please accept my sincere gratitude for the content you provide and the way that it has enriched my life.

  17. Karl F Newman

    I sit at home and read stuff, I do not have a “mobile” device, I will not have a mobile device. when I go to my shop I’m “IN” the shop. It’s not your fault that no one can be where they are and feel they MUST stay on the interweb. We appreciate your posts and insights on our “downtime”.
    Thank You
    ps their bad manners are not your fault.

  18. Salko Safic

    I too hate social media, if it wasn’t for my own blog and other good blogs out there I would turn off the internet like I have the TV. They say the net is good for business yet I’ve never sold a thing online and I’ve sent my products all ove the world through word of mouth advertising. It didn’t happen over night it took years to build this network but it’s still the best form of advertising. I don’t even have a website anymore other than my blog. I can imagine everyone thinking what great opportunities I’m missing out on yet I can’t keep up with the back orders I have.


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