Colin
Devroe

I am quitting social media

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.

Mostly.

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.

    @cdevroe ah! I had the exact same thought tonight!

    I definitely want to go back to a careful selection of RSS feeds. The inability to turn retweets and threads etc off of Twitter is too much for me now. I just can’t process, after the past 2-4years…

    Hope this change will make you feel better, all the best.

    I unfollowed everybody on Facebook and LinkedIn yesterday. I had gone a couple of years only following my wife and kids on FB (who are good for about 1 update a month between the 3 of them) but with the COVID lockdowns last year I started re-engaging on FB, for obvious reasons. So now there is nothing but ads on my wall, so no reason to even check. But if I want to spend 30 minutes on a Saturday morning clicking through friends profiles to catch up I can still do that.

    @cdevroe great post. Check out Cal Newport’s Deep Work when you’re looking for more books. Hari’s piece in the Guardian mentioned that you need to fill the vacuum. Newport’s book is 2016 or 2017, but in many ways explains how to do just that.

    @cdevroe you mention that you will not got to Instagram to view the feed. What about individual profiles? I am planning something too, so I am collecting ideas 😁

    @lukemperez Thank you for the recommendation.

    @pcora If someone links me to an Instagram post, profile, or tweet, etc. of course I’ll go look at it. This isn’t about being a fanatic or a boycott. However, I won’t be opening the feeds to see what is happening on those platforms any longer. I’m unplugged.

    @cdevroe any time. I’ve been thinking about this problem a lot, since at least when I started my doctorate (~2011). I realized Facebook was distracting me from getting my work done, so I removed it from my phone. After two weeks, I knew I was on to something. Good luck!

    @cdevroe webmentions are confusing, but i see my post in repsonse doesn’t appear on your page: canion.blog/2022/01/0…

    @canion I think if you replied to my original M.b post via M.b then M.b would send a webmention but not if you link to my blog? Perhaps @manton can say.

    @cdevroe Good on you. I’ve been off social media for over two years now and can say my daily thoughts and behavior is noticeably different from when I started. Be kind to yourself throughout your goal and good luck.

    @cdevroe @canion Micro.blog needs a hint that it’s a reply for it to automatically send a Webmention. When using the reply button, this happens for you. For other links, you’ll need to add a u-in-reply-to. See this post (but ignore everything about RSVPs).

    @manton @cdevroe @canion So if I understand correctly, we have to add this directly when were composing the markdown?

    So instead of this:

    [In this post by Colin](http://cdevroe.com/2022/01/05/bye-social-media/)

    We’d have to type this:<a href=“http://cdevroe.com/2022/01/05/bye-social-media/“ class=“u-in-reply-to”>In this post by Colin</a>

    And then it would send the webmention to Colin’s post without having to enter the pingback URL directly, which is what I had to do.

    @gregmoore That’s great to hear. I appreciate your note about being kind to myself. Interestingly, this has seemed pretty easy so far. I think it is perhaps because I’ve wanted to do it for so long and I desire the results so badly.

    @pimoore @cdevroe @canion Exactly. Micro.blog checks posts for the u-in-reply-to and if it’s there, it sends the Webmention automatically.

    @manton @cdevroe @canion Is there any way to achieve this with all links in Markdown, such that it would apply that parameter when Hugo builds? Not only does it save the extra work when writing the article or reply, but it would ensure that any site that has webmentions enabled would receive the ping, otherwise it would safely be ignored. I suppose you could use a shortcode, but it would be better if it was a native option within Markdown.

    @pimoore @cdevroe @canion I can’t think of a way to do it with just Markdown. Micro.blog could send Webmentions for everything, but I don’t think all links really count as “replies”… In the future, we may want a “new reply post” sort of UI.

    @manton @pimoore @canion There are flavors of Markdown that allow for “special attributes” ( example ) but I don’t think I’d recommend that. Harder to write/remember than straight HTML.

    @manton are webmentions only supposed to only reflect replies, though? I’d want to see all mentions when it’s capable…

    @manton maybe a better way to say is “quote posts” and “link posts” are webmentions just as much as replies are…at least in my brain space.

    But maybe that’s not what the indieweb specs say?

    @toddgrotenhuis I’m thinking about changing this. There’s been some discussion in the IndieWeb chat today about it.

    @cdevroe cheering you on. Did that a few years ago. One of the best decisions about my time and energy I’ve made.

    @manton I’ve always understood it as being up to the receiving site as to if/how to display webmentions, so they could conceptually be replies, quotes, trackbacks, link posts, etc., so I like the direction it sounds like your thinking is going — though certainly don’t know what the change impact would be for you!

    @manton Yes I link my notes and posts in aseries manually adding the reply from indieweb.org/reply

    Do wish I had a reply button but I just keep the page open.

    @manton Shanske and Mathias seperate out the replies and generic webmentions on WP. I think fluffy’s webmentionjs plugin does the same.

    @toddgrotenhuis You can do this manually.

    <blockquote class=”h-cite u-quotation-of”>
    <p>@manton maybe a better way to say is “quote posts” and “link posts” are webmentions just as much as replies are…at least in my brain space.</p>
    <p>But maybe that’s not what the indieweb specs say?</p>
    <p><cite><a class=”u-url” href=”https://micro.blog/toddgrotenhuis/12345000″>Todd’ s Post</a></cite></p>
    </blockquote>

    <pre>
    <blockquote class=”h-cite u-quotation-of”>
    <p>@manton maybe a better way to say is “quote posts” and “link posts” are webmentions just as much as replies are…at least in my brain space.</p>
    <p>But maybe that’s not what the indieweb specs say?</p>
    <p <cite><a class=”u-url” href=”https://micro.blog/toddgrotenhuis/12345000″>Todd’ sPost</a></cite></p>
    </blockquote>
    </pre>

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