Before I begin, let me tell you I did not plan any of this craziness. It was a combination of impulse and paranoia. It was similar to the time I gave up smoking but without the physical shakes and teeth grinding. A few weeks into this experiment and I'm happy to report that all my teeth are still intact.
Do we really need another social media / minimalist philosophy? Probably not, but this is an old school weblog post anyway.
You could probably avoid the Internet back in 2001, but even back then, I had a healthy online footprint. I read a lot of self-published weblogs, because personal stories fascinated me. My shopping habits involved 320x480px digital Kodak cameras and techie O'Riley books from Amazon. I had mIRC buddies and we would organize meetups at the local Red Robin's. <tangent>At that time, I didn't know that the restaurant didn't take reservations on Friday nights. We (40+ awkward online chat savants, a/s/l?) showed up and took over 15 tables for 2+ hours. Whoops! Sorry.</tangent> Heck! Even at my wedding we had a few tables that were reserved for my “online friends” (Picture was blatantly stolen from Heather without ANY permission heh). Flickr was my addiction because people posted awesome pictures plus I was fascinated with its user interface.
So what caused me to re-evaluate my relationship with social media and the Internet? A friend told me that their main news source was their Facebook feed. I thought, "That's weird, right?" But then this is apparently how most people get their news. I was curious and recently downloaded my Google and Facebook data, had eye opening moments that ranged from "So they didn't delete that relationship even though I removed that person from my friends list" all the way to "Oh, wow! They know that I clicked on THAT ad?!" The Moment app tracks a user’s daily "Screen Time" and "How compulsively you pick up the iPhone" metrics. These
were are embarrassing numbers.
I have an Instagram and Twitter problem. Facebook, not so much. <thought>But is that like saying that I prefer ecstasy and cocaine because too many people smoke weed?</thought>
There was also a fleeting decision to delete all my social media accounts; I chickened out at the last minute and compromised by just logging out. It was surprisingly hard to find the log out button — in order of difficulty: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. And, this was when I...
Most articles that talk about a social media cleanse mention the clarity that comes from the decluttering of mental space. I am three weeks in and have not reached that level of Clear. The first week was a sad state of affairs; habitually picking up my phone, tapping on the Instagram icon, and cursing at the log-in screen. On the desktop, my fingers would unknowingly log into Facebook; curse, and promptly log out. There was a lot of cursing. This impulse can't be good.
Here are some insights I've collected in this brief period.
We all have to be smarter about the platforms we decide to join. Long gone are the days where you readily provide your email to check out a service or an app. We should be more discerning with what we allow to expand our digital footprint. This is especially true for free and advertiser driven revenue platforms where they ‘curate’ your feed using some ungoverned form of artificial intelligence. We must judge our use of these apps according to our trust in their leadership. If you get a sneaky feeling from Mark Zuckerberg, then maybe you should avoid Facebook.
Moving forward, I’ve decided to keep my social media accounts intact but leave them perpetually logged out. I’m not quite ready to delete these accounts.
I still consume a lot of content. In the absence of social media, I've turned back to books, audiobooks, and long form articles and essays. I've needed to recharge the Kindle multiple times these past few weeks. There was also a small experiment to write again (hence this post).
This works right now but it might not work for you. It might take less effort or less time, but it could also take a significantly larger amount of effort. Judge it according to your own situation and your willingness. Make your own decision. Don’t just ride the lazy river and float along having some platform pull away your attention and time.
So what now? I'll try to keep at it. It's an hour of freed up time today. Tomorrow, it might be a lifted brain fog. Maybe I'll pick up that great idea and start moving on it again. Or maybe I'll spend time playing the Nintendo Switch with my son because it’s the nth time he laughed at my Splatoon playing and that laugh is awesome.