Hello, internet. My old nemesis.
Okay, the internet is not my nemesis, per se, but it can be a powerful enemy when it wants to be. And up until a few weeks ago, it seemed to be attacking me with the full force of its arsenal: sucking all my time away with its Fangs of Time-Suckage, squeezing me tight with its Claws of Procrastination, and infecting me daily with Venom of Staring-At-Breaking-Bad-Articles-Until-Drooling-Commences.
So I took a social media break. (My definition of break meant that I didn’t look at my personal Facebook news feed at all (and therefore did not get sidetracked with random links that people posted), I only looked at my Facebook fan page if someone posted something on it, and I only ventured into the Twitterverse to respond to other people’s tweets to me.) If you want to know what I learned, keep reading; if not, then go do something else offline, because that’s kind of the whole point of this post, I guess?
- The obsessive need to look at shiny internet things did not go away. It could no longer be fulfilled with social media, so it got fulfilled elsewhere; mostly on The Kitchn and Lifehacker, where I spent many hours reading articles about – pause for maximum irony – how to be more productive. I spent just as much time looking at other sites as I did on social media. This led to the conclusion that the internet is not really the one to blame here. In other words: It’s not you, internet, it’s me.
- Sometimes I missed hearing about what my friends were up to, but more often I was glad to be rid of those gunky Facebook feelings that abound when you spend too much time on the thing.
- It didn’t make too much of a difference in terms of my productivity or my creativity. I tend to fluctuate a lot in these areas–some days go really well, some days are crash-and-burn failures–and I found that the same was true without social media, too.
- The best thing I did, though, was turn off all my phone notifications, and I’m never turning them back on. If you’re sitting in front of a computer, hey, guess what you’re at a computer–you’re going to be interacting with it one way or another, it’s going to be throwing all sorts of stuff at you, and by golly, you’re going to catch it. But a smartphone is like an annoying little gnat, always wanting attention, dragging you away from the delicious queso you’ve just prepared for yourself. You know what, phone? I WANT TO EAT THE QUESO. I don’t want to drop whatever I’m doing (i.e., readying a tortilla chip) to read an email that could just as easily wait an hour. It’s not Floo Powder, for heaven’s sake – your correspondence is not going to vanish into the flames forever. Just let it sit there and age, like a fine cheese.
- Sudden thought: Less social media = more cheese metaphors?
- I also uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone, and again, not looking back. Now, when I’m bored, instead of perusing Facebook I just creepily peruse any nearby human faces. I’m not saying they’re better. They’re just not as tiny and pixelated.
That’s all I got. If you have any thoughts about this stuff or have tried a similar experiment yourself, I’d love to hear about it. Clearly I don’t have much to conclude about the matter. But I do know one thing: at least the internet can be used to post unspeakably amazing things like this, which I suppose makes it all worth it: