I am quitting social media for a while (maybe forever), but I'll (eventually) answer email.— potatowire (@potatowire) January 8, 2016
If an pseudonymous person quits the Internet, is it a kind of suicide? I don’t think so, because the effects are so very mild in comparison. In fact, I’d wager anyone reading this who has lost someone to suicide felt the beginnings of anger at the very idea of similarity. I think the connections on the Internet are just more tenuous than in real life.
Well, in the end I didn’t even quit the Internet, just social media (Slack and Twitter, in my case). I did this because, in spite of truly missing many of my Internet friends, I realized social media was acting as a tax on my attention. While not consciously aware of it, a small portion of my brain cycles were constantly being devoted to wondering what I was missing out on elsewhere.
In the latter days of the Technical Difficulties podcast, I noticed that I was barely finishing most tweets, and I was, at best, skimming even short blog posts. I was, however, spending a lot of time on Twitter. I didn’t like this, so I pulled back on my participation a little (I’m pretty sure no one noticed, which should have been a sign). Things improved a little, but my attention still wandered way too often for my liking.
Fast forward to this past January, when I noticed that Cal Newport’s new book, Deep Work was out (coincidentally–I’m pretty sure it’s not ironic–I learned about Newport when Merlin Mann was on TD. Since I was traveling at the time, I had the chance to finish the book very quickly, but by the time I got to Part 2, Rule #3: “Quit Social Media” I knew I had to heed his advice.
I’ve made a lot of changes in the intervening weeks besides just quitting social media, but the overall difference is profound. I can truly focus like I never have before, and it is glorious. Now, you may be coping with social media just fine, I get it, but I’m not proselytizing here.
It’s not you, it’s me.