Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Taking another social media break

Jake Dahn:

In many ways it feels like the more “information” I consume, the more burnt out I become.


Ideas feel different, though. When I consume a new idea, I fall into a natural optimism where I can’t help but be motivated to remix the idea into something new.

Please read his entire post for the context of these statements because they are not entirely related to what I’m about to write.

When the pandemic hit we immediately instituted some rules for taking in information. We limited ourselves to just 30-minutes of news per day so that we were informed but yet not overwhelmed. After a few weeks, we began to skip days and most weekends since much of the information being shared by news outlets and authorities were mostly the same day-to-day.

I believe this helped us a lot.

Lately, though, I find myself consuming more citizen journalism via social networks than in recent memory. Like Jake, I can feel it drain on me in a variety of ways. I can see my capability for long form reading, focus, and deep thought lessen the more tiny bits of information, video clips, etc. that I take in. Consuming social media has always had that effect on me which is why I’ve taken extended breaks.

Jake’s post is a good reminder for me to take care of myself by limiting the amount of time I take in this type of information. I believe it is important to be informed but it is also important to be cognizant of your own mental health.

To that end, I’m taking another social media break. I’m unsure how long. Likely until I feel a bit better and I notice my mind settle and my ability to focus return a bit. I’ll still write here (in fact, that may increase as a result of this break).

I also have an idea of how to separate my subscriptions in NetNewsWire to allow me to still read some of my favorite web sites and publications (which provide me with inspiration) without getting too much news or short form bits.

Colin Walker takes a break (so I will too)

Colin Walker:

I’m not going to be blogging much – maybe the occasional post but nothing regular. I’m going to remove my feed from for the time being so that I’m not drawn into conversations there that might result from any posts – if any conversations occur they will have to happen locally, for now.

That isn’t a reflection on Manton and the service, I still think he is doing a wonderful job and it keeps going from strength to strength, it’s just not somewhere I need to be at the moment and something I need to do for me.

I’ve recently thought about doing something similar. Lately publishing to Facebook, Instagram, and my blog have felt like a bit of a chore. As such, I’m actually behind on my blogging. Which starts to create this odd pressure (that is only self-induced). I’ve taken many breaks in the past. They feel great and usually result in coming back with fresh perspectives.

So I’m going to join my friend-from-across-the-ocean Colin and hop off of this blog, all social media, YouTube and my RSS reader for all of August.

Comments are closed. See you in September.

Bijan be gone

Bijan Sabet, on his Tumblr:

I deactivated my Facebook account this morning.

The slide continues.

Ironically, today is the day I decided to cut my #60daybreak short and I jumped back on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

I have my reasons. More soon. 

Wither Wheaton

Anne Wheaton, wife of Wil Wheaton, on her personal blog:

I deleted my Twitter account last night and immediately felt relieved. I will miss the tweety buddies who were awesome that I don’t know in real life. I will continue to stay in touch with my friends around the world by phone or by my private Facebook account. Instagram has been fun so far so I’m keeping that for now, but when it isn’t fun anymore, that will go too.


Simmons off-air

Brent Simmons on his personal blog:

Here’s what I found: being off Twitter, that squeaky treadmill, gave me back some time, and it made me happier and calmer than I would have been.


I’m not deleting my account, but I’ve turned off all notifications and uninstalled the app from all computers and devices. I just won’t be looking.

Social breaks just may be in vogue.

Today is day 42 of my #60daybreak.

Peach still fuzzy

I gave Peach a try for 10 minutes (even though I’m on a break). Here are my thoughts:

  • I don’t know if text-based commands will triumph over buttons. Path had buttons for many of the ‘shortcuts’ that are built into Peach, such as sharing your location, and that never “took off” relatively speaking. Will people type them in instead?
  • Peach doesn’t have a main feed — a place where you can see every post from your entire network in reverse-chronological order. You can see each friend’s latest post and then choose to dive into their account to see more. An interesting approach but I’m not sure if it is for me.
  • Peach does not have public accounts. For any social network to get the celebrity effect they will need to have public accounts. Perhaps they do not want that for Peach.
  • The “Add Friend” and “Find Friends” buttons are confusing. Tapping “Add Friend” allows you to search for a specific username and then also search your Address Book for friends. The caveat here is that Peach doesn’t show you the friends that are already on… so you’re left with just a bunch of invite buttons. The “Find Friends” button does not allow you to search your Address Book. Why?
  • The username grab on Peach has been interesting to watch. Several of my friends and family have already lost their usernames. Will there be a secondary market for these usernames?
  • I read that some of the team behind Vine is making Peach. So I wouldn’t bet against them as they’ve had a smash hit with Vine.

It is still early days for Peach so I do not want to judge it too soon. I’m always glad when I see new ideas springing up in this space as I think there is still so much better we can do than Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. And we can do lightyears better than Ello. I hope Peach has a long enough run to truly try out their original vision.

Thirty five down

I’m now on day 35 of my 60-day break from social media.

I wanted to write a post on the 7th, since that would have been a calendar month since the start, but I didn’t. So, today I thought I’d jot down how this experiment has been going. To do so, I’ll answer the same questions I have in each post.

How has these last few weeks been? Since day 21 it has been easier than ever to avoid the desire to check Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Since January 1 (since I had that day off, was sick, and had extra time) I’ve been checking Feedly once-and-a-while to catch up on RSS. Save for a very few subscriptions I think I might end up ditching the rest. In fact, I think I’ll do exactly that the moment I publish this post.

On Wednesday last week the sun sprang into action in the late afternoon and I saw an opportunity for Eliza and I to drive around the countryside and shoot some photos. When we were finished I did have the desire to post photos to Instagram. But that desire abated after a day or two.

Have there been any benefits? After playing some basketball with a friend we went out for a drink and then chatted. I had no desire at all to check my phone. I was completely present the entire evening.

I wish I could say the same about SMS messages. I find myself needing to check and respond to these a bit more than I’d like. I think I’m going to create a routine of checking these only every few hours and just be done with it. If someone sends me a message that I believe will turn into a longer conversation I think I’m going to bite the bullet and call them. This way the conversation can be done quickly and I can get on with my night. Otherwise, I’ll attempt to respond with a single message that will answer any questions they’ll likely follow-up with. One and done.

Have there been any drawbacks? I’m now able to say that 35 days in I’m coming to the realization that there have been none. Zero. Since the beginning there is an illusion that you’ll miss something that matters or an opportunity will be missed that you cannot get back. Perhaps I have missed an opportunity here and there to meet someone new on Twitter or to see a cool photo on Instagram… but the benefits far, far outweigh any of these.

What do I miss the most? For several weeks in a row I’ve been saying that I miss posting photos to Instagram. This is the first week that I can say that desire is waning. I’m hoping that it goes away completely. Will I return to Instagram when this is over? On day 1 I would have said definitely. On day 35 I’m saying maybe.

What do I miss the least? Being a dill weed to family and friends by looking at my phone when I’m with them.

I’ll check back in a few more weeks.


Three weeks into the social break

Today is day 21 or about one-third of the way through my most recent break from social media.

This morning I read my post from the end of the first week and I can say that not much has changed since then. But, as a matter of exercise I’d like to answer the questions again.

How has these last few weeks been? The weirdness has worn off. I do not find myself grabbing for my phone. In fact, it can stay in my pocket the entire time I’m with friends and I don’t even think about it. It is very nice. I no longer feel like a terrible loser.

Have there been any benefits? My productivity is still at a much higher level than when I was checking social sites. The urge to keep up with news is also subsiding. In general, I feel more relaxed and less worried. Also, like I wrote above, I feel less like a phone addict loser when with other people.

Have there been any drawbacks? The “I missed this photo or that photo” feeling has almost completely gone away. I find I no longer care. It isn’t that I do not want to see photos from friends, it is that I no longer feel as if I need to see them. I have, however, sent more messages and photos via iMessage over the last few weeks than I had in the past. It is a nice change of pace to share a photo with someone or a few people rather than “the world”.

My YouTube viewing is still pretty high but has calmed down a lot since The Force Awakens came out.

What do I miss the most? I still miss sharing photos on Instagram. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever stop missing this. I’d be cool if there were an app to share photos to Instagram without needing to see Instagram. There probably is.

What do I miss the least? Now that I do not feel the urge to keep up with RSS feeds or News or Twitter I do not miss all of the hours wasted reading stuff that wasn’t really benefitting me in any real way. My Unmark queue is far lighter than ever. Which is actually a good thing.

In my week one post I mentioned that I was wondering what I’ll do when I have downtime and would like to be distracted. And I still find myself wondering how to fill those periods of time. Say I’m sitting and waiting for something… it used to be that I’d open Twitter or Instagram and waste some time. Over the last 21 days I haven’t been doing that. So I’ve found myself sitting there twiddling my thumbs. What I’d like to try to do over the next few weeks is use that time to read a book so I’ll keep one with me for that.

I’ll check back in in a few weeks.


The first week of the social break

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.” #

Today marks the first week of my social break. This has been a complete break from Twitter, RSS, Instagram, Facebook, any Slack channels that aren’t work related, Ello, Flickr, VSCO, Google+, etc. and most recently Swarm got the axe.

To be certain that I didn’t slip up I deleted the apps from my phone and tablet. I didn’t delete them from my computer as I generally don’t have too much of a problem avoiding them on it. And I still send about one tweet per week for Plain. It wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to delete Swarm. I do not check my “swarm stream?” but I do use the app to check into places that I’ve been. I figured if I was really going to take a break I should go all in.

Here are some questions I’m going to answer for my own benefit today and likely every few weeks during this break; how has this week been, have there been any benefits, any drawbacks, what do I miss the least, what do I miss the most?

How has the first week been? Weird at first. I caught myself bringing my phone with me to the bathroom, as an example, even though there wasn’t anything I wanted to check on it. I also had my phone next to me while sitting at home and I find I really no longer need that. So, the first week has been a process of unlearning certain habits. I genuinely look forward to feeling perfectly fine without my phone.

Have there been any benefits? The obvious one has been productivity. I had a lot of work to do last week so I think this helped. We’ll see how I feel when I have downtime and would like to be distracted.

Have there been any drawbacks? One obvious drawback is not seeing the same things your friends or family do. “Did you see so-and-so did this?” or, “that so-and-so has a new dog?”. No. I didn’t. And I won’t. So it will take a little while, I think, for others to be used to the fact that I won’t see what they do.

Another drawback has been that my YouTube viewing and News app reading (which I suppose is cheating as this is technically RSS) is way, way up. So I’m going to cut out both of these now too but in a specific way. If someone links me to a YouTube video I’m still going to watch it. I’m just not going to open YouTube and poke around like I normally do for hours on end.

What do I miss the most? Sharing photos on Instagram. Every now and then I get a desire to share a tweet or to share a link via Twitter but for the most part I’ve missed sharing photos.

What do I miss the least? The general gibberish that people post on Facebook and increasingly Instagram. Like quotes about coffee or Mondays, anything that says “that moment when…” in it, “copy this and share” type posts. That stuff drove me mad so I do not miss it at all.

After just one week I’m already questioning whether or not I’d ever want to return to social media. I found this pretty interesting. I’m looking forward to how my answers to the above questions change over the next two months.

Oh, and it looks like Ed Sheeran is also hopping offline. What a copycat!

I’ll report back in a few weeks.


Another social break

In mid-2014 I took a two week break from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. In October 2014 I took a 30-day social break and wrote about why I was doing it when I had hit the midway point*. I feel like it is time to take another break and this time I think it will be for 60 days. Each time I’ve taken some time off from these services it has been pretty great. Here are my reasons for wanting a break this time.

Not everyone uses Twitter the way that I do — I read every single Tweet I subscribe to. So with Twitter I always feel so far behind and I feel a need to keep up. When I take a break I don’t feel so far behind and my brain isn’t nagging me to look.

With Facebook I regret looking at it almost every single time. I do not know why but people share the craziest, spammiest, crappiest stuff on there. “Paste this to show that you are listening to me!” It is like having the worst, most needy, friends in the world. Weird. It is really, really weird.

Instagram is going to be the toughest for me to ignore for 60 days. I’m just starting to hit my stride over there I think. What I mean by that is… I post a few photos per week, I look at it a few times a day, and I feel like I’m enjoying using it. However, I cannot possibly look at it enough to keep up. I miss photos in my timeline all the time. Instagram doesn’t save the point where you left off so I’m constantly missing photos and friends and family will ask “Did you see that photo?” and I almost always have to say no.

Also in that October 2014 post I wrote:

Where would I be without Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Would I think my life was more or less enriched if I had never discovered them at all? I don’t know.

I still think about this. I know many people who have never signed up to any of these services and from what I can tell they haven’t missed out on anything in life. In fact, there is a good chance they are better for it. Maybe we’re all deluding ourselves into thinking there is any value in these services because we want to feel connected to someone or something while we sit and type away on our stupid keyboards?

* I recommend reading that post again. It has some thoughts in it that still ring so very true today for me. Side note: I love having a blog that I can look back at things like this.