Mostly. And, for a year. Or more.
What started out as a routine flushing of my social media accounts, something I’ve done on more than one occasion in the past, has now turned into a strong desire to leave social media behind for good. And so I'm doing just that.
My main reasons for waiting to cut off from the feeds are my losing my ability to focus, my personal output, time, and the complete destruction of my mind.
I’ve been on Twitter since November 2006. It has been my main source of breaking news, inspiration, and entertainment ever since. I get an awful lot of value from Twitter. I painstakingly curate my experience there to engineer a positive outcome. But I also spend an inordinate amount of time scrolling tweets, clicking links, reading threads, and darting between subjects like a kitten chasing a laser.
I think the cumulative effect on my brain since 2006 has been that my ability to focus has been effected. Not that I can’t focus. I can sit down and get into flow on a programming project more often than not. But when I’m still, when I’m idle, when I feel like I could be bored at any moment I grab my phone and scroll through Twitter which sends my mind into overdrive on a million topics, timelines, thoughts, and emotions.
I don’t think this is good for the human brain. I know it isn’t good for my brain.
So, while I know I will miss the firehouse of data being directly injected into my consciousness, I’m giving it (and all other social media) up for 2022. And possibly beyond.
Here is my plan (as of this writing):
- I’m still going to write on my blog. And I’m still going to try to reply to all comments, webmentions, linkbacks, etc.
- I’m rebuilding my RSS feeds from scratch to mostly direct me towards longer form writing and less frequent updates. Web sites, both personal and professional, that foster inspiration, tinkering, making, etc. but with a focus on those that dive a bit deeper. Rather than a waterfall of fresh runoff, a stream of crystal clear spring water.
- I’m not going to read the Twitter feed, at all.
- I’m not going back on Instagram to view the feed, at all.
- I might load Micro.blog once or twice a week to catch up (same with Mastodon). I will also put a few users there into NetNewswire so I see all of their posts. The signal to noise ratio on both of these platforms is rather high. So if I limit my exposure, severely, I think I can come away without my mind turning to mush. By the way, I'm not comparing M.b or Mastodon to Twitter/FB because they are not the same thing. But, I followed tons and tons of accounts and so it was a barrage of information daily.
- I'm not going on Facebook at all. This should be very easy as I very rarely opened it.
- I am limiting YouTube viewing dramatically. Cherry picking a video or two watch rather than queuing up dozens at a time.
- I’m going to read books. I used to read 16-20 a year. I don’t anymore. In fact, since starting this journey just about two weeks ago now, I’ve finished two books and started another. I’m hoping this will help me to dive deep rather than go broad.
- I’ve deleted my podcasts and will instead cherry pick episodes here and there to listen to. And not for every commute. I will instead listen to some music, the Bible, or nothing at all.
- I’ve deleted all social media apps from my phone and tablet. But I am not deleting my accounts. Perhaps I will eventually.
- To fill the gaps of possible boredom I’m going to do what I used to do; study the Bible more, make things, get into the darkroom, play boardgames or card games with friends, sit in the yard or hot tub… but mostly make things.
Like I said, I've started this just a few weeks ago, and just yesterday I read an article on The Guardian titled Your attention didn't collapse, it was stolen. It is a good read and I urge you to read it if this is a topic that interests you. It just reaffirmed to me why I'm doing this. Drastic? Yes. But I think it will help me.
Well over a decade ago you would have found me urging friends and family to get online and get onto social media so that we could share photos, tweets, links, etc. there. I regret ever doing that. I believe that social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok) has been a net negative for the world. It was a boon at its beginning but it spiraled out of control - and pushed towards lunacy by greed.
I’m already feeling better having made this decision. I know I’ll experience some FOMO. I realize I may not hear every bit of news or lose my finger on the pulse of the web (which I’ve maintained since getting online in 1994).
But I’m OK with that. I’d much rather have my mind back. I can’t wait to see what I do with it.