A major new project

At some point in the last month, I realized that my life was more than a little out of balance. It wasn’t only that I had purchased a new PlayStation 4, though that certainly contributed. It also wasn’t my unhealthy relationship with Twitter, though that had become steadily worse since the Trump election. Likewise, I couldn’t squarely place the blame on a lot of other things that are wonky in my life: daily frustrations, terrible diet, or the other 80 problems that everyone has in their lives.

Instead, it is a function of many things working together that have left me without a real framework to have a happy and healthy life. To put it another way, I have let some parts of my life get out of control, at the expense of some other truly important parts. So, I’m starting a new project of self-cultivation, in order to regain some balance through constraining the less productive aspects of my life and fostering growth of the more valuable things. To accomplish this, my plan is to create some time by removing or severely curtailing some unproductive or less-valuable areas, then I can hopefully fill that vacuum by focusing on the areas I want to spend more time.

For now, I want to talk about something I’m culling. Social media has been such a mixed blessing in my life, ever since I started reading news groups in high school. In the 90’s and 00’s, it felt like an amazing time to be alive — that we were all on the edge of something great and exciting. In that time, however, we have all learned some important lessons about how we should and should not use social media. Some of these lessons were first-hand, while others were learned by watching others suffer or fail for their mistakes. Some people lost friends due to posts on Facebook, while others lost jobs for spending too much time on Google Reader instead of being productive at work. This list is interesting but very long, though not all lessons learned are as dramatic as these examples. Some are, like mine, fairly quotidian realizations that online interaction with others is taking too much time or is not satisfactory, for whatever reason.

For me, the recognition that my consumption or use of social media has crossed some line has been some regularly occurring phenomenon. That is to say, this isn’t the first time that I’ve had to reassess what I’m doing and make adjustments in where I am giving my attention. Maybe taking such an inventory is something that I should do on a regular basis. I’m honestly not sure. Chief among my concerns are my use of Twitter and Facebook. It seems that I no longer truly enjoy reading or contributing to these platforms, but instead only turning to them reflexively, when any fleeting moment of boredom is detected. And the worst part is that after I look through Twitter, I don’t come away feeling good — only that I suddenly need a shower. To make it even worse, the only reward that I feel I come away with is a shorter attention span.

So, for the time being, I’m taking a break from the largest offenders: Twitter and Facebook. I’m not sure exactly how long this embargo will last, though subsequent reassessments of this unofficial policy could go either way — even to include more (or all) social media platforms (I’m looking at you, Reddit!). This will mostly depend on whether I’m getting the results that I want — more on that, later. The fact is that I spent a lot of time on those two platforms, and it is possible that avoiding this narrow set of behaviors could result in a satisfactory amount of Time Well Spent. If it isn’t sufficient, I will have to dig deeper and cut more. For now, all I can say is, “We’ll see.”

Over the next week or so, I’m planning a few more posts to talk about what I will do with all my new time, as well as places where I am making some more complicated changes. After that, I expect to do some periodic updates, as the situation dictates.


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