September 22, 2018
For the past 10 days I have been travelling through Japan and Thailand with my girlfriend and her family and it’s been a great experience. I think taking vacation time away from work and the normal routine of life is important and I do it as frequently as my job allows me to. Vacations also give me time to reflect. Time to look at where I am and where I want to be. With that reflection I’ve decided to make what I think is a pretty big leap, at least for me. I have decided to step away from consuming Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, Hacker News, and Facebook1 completely.
I have done this before, on a smaller scale (and I did see small benefits), but now I have decided to go cold turkey as much as is possible. I have implemented tools that block the above from being visited on my phone2 and intend to do so on my other computers when I get back home. I intend to do this until at least the end of the year, to truly give this a go.
There’s actually a couple reasons why I’ve decided to make this leap. The first is that I feel I’m not achieving the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year. I have actually started a number of projects in the last year or so, this blog included, that have all just sort of languished. They’re still ongoing just, very, very, slowly.
I find this immensely frustrating. I know that it takes a long time for projects to mature, to truly flesh out an idea and make it a reality. But at the same time, when I look at the amount of work I have accomplished this year versus the number of memes I’ve read, or funny gifs I’ve seen or hours spent on YouTube or books I haven’t read I get scared. Where has my attention span gone that I can’t complete any meaningful task anymore without some external pressure (like needing a job)? Why do I feel the need to check what someone said about the new iPhone on Twitter? Why am I watching people play video games when I could be playing them myself? Why do I read Reddit comment sections full of meaningless fluff instead of reading the books I told myself I wanted to read?
Books I haven’t read is actually a good example of this. This year I had set myself a goal of reading 20 books and it’s nearing the end of September and I’ve read 7. My other projects are all about at the same place (I’m just not ready to talk about them yet). So something has to give.
The most obvious change to me is to remove all the little social media habits that have slowly crept into my life but now, somehow, consume it. Every hour (Half hour? Minute?) I find myself checking my phone, refreshing pages I’ve already seen hundreds of times. It takes just long enough to read all the new content that by the time I cycle back to the first page, oh, would you look at that, new content for my brain to enjoy, one tasty junk food bite at a time. This time the dog wasn’t tricked, wow, amazing. I wonder how thin that new Apple Watch really is. What did Trump do this time to piss off this person? So Rust is good for games? Neat.
I’ve been mulling this over these last few weeks and as I’ve said before I actually have implemented a smaller version in the past. The catalyst that finally convinced me however was that CGP Grey, an independent creator I greatly admire, has decided to do the same thing.
CGP Grey, a podcaster and YouTuber recently shared some of his feelings on this topic in a couple podcasts of his. Listening to Mike and Grey discuss their feelings on this topic on the latest episode of Cortex and also Grey and Brady discussing this on Hello Internet a few weeks ago has really helped me make this decision. There’s also a video on YouTube3 that Grey has made also discussing the topic. I challenge you to watch the whole thing, right to the end. Don’t worry, I’ll still be here when you get back.
In fact, I think I’ll be here even even more. At least that’s the whole point isn’t it? Time will tell I suppose.
I have used 1Blocker to block Reddit, Twitter, and Hacker News on my phone. I deleted the Facebook app (not my account, just the app) which I never used anyways. For YouTube I have given a slight exception. I have unsubscribed from all channels that post content daily but I have remained subscribed to a few specific individuals that I feel are worth my attention. I also remain a YouTube premium subscriber because I hate ads and I use Play Music too. However, if I find myself getting pulled into the endless engine that is YouTube recommendations (which has happened to me in the past) I may have to step away from the entire platform altogether.
If you think that’s a lot of content I just dumped into your lap you’re right, and it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. ↩