Solving for Social Media (my blackout results)

Yesterday ended my month-long social media fast and blogging hiatus.

A number of people have asked me how that went, and just what I was up to with all that. Answers below 🙂

  1. Was it worth it? Totally! Yes, unequivocally! Highly recommended! If you’re wondering why, read Deep Work.
  2. Did you miss it? Blogging, yes. Social media, no. The first 2-3 days exposed my addiction. I had pre-decided that anytime I felt the urge to check Twitter or something I’d do 10 pushups instead. I did 60 pushups the first day, 50 the next day, then 20, then I was fine (and a little stronger). I was surprised to miss blogging, and I realized that after years of doing that every single week (across various websites), I’ve successfully created a writing habit. Or maybe it’s a compulsion now, I can’t tell. I did definitely miss my friends, but I just emailed them or called them or visited them in person. Less quantity but WAY better quality!
  3. What’s it been like coming back? Easy. I skimmed through hundreds of mostly useless notifications across several platforms within 15-20min.
  4. Did you do anything cool that we missed? Sure! Action-packed trip back to the SF Bay Area, time with family & friends, made some soul-replenishing music, tweaked my back and could hardly walk for a week, joined Seth Godin’s Bootstrapper’s Workshop where I met lots of cool people from around the world and learned a ton, and last weekend I went from never having even held a rifle before (let alone firing one) to becoming an AQT-qualified marksman. Sorry, no pictures of any of that because then I would have been tempted to post them 😉
  5. Will you do it again? Probably. My girlfriend remarked how I was less distracted and nicer to be around in September. I feel better too. I don’t have another departure marked on my calendar already or anything, but I’ll likely give notice and go dark once a year on an as-needed basis.

Conclusions

  • I’ve been trying to use social media for things it’s not good at. Blogs too, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I kinda suspected this, but letting go and taking a few steps back made it clear very quickly.
  • I want to connect with people who are funny, thoughtful, passionate, and interesting. But even people who are all those things tend to be offended, impatient, reactionary, and needy when on the social platforms of the day. It eats up hours of my life trying to manage that kind of thing, and brings me only frustration. To the contrary, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed how people show up with intention and purpose on some discussion boards on Slack, in Seth Godin’s community, and on Scuttlebutt (a decentralized social platform). I’ll be spending more time those places and less time on the widely-known ones. Too many people can ruin anything.
  • What I’ll use Facebook for going forward: Only occasional happy-feelgood posts, nothing that says what is really going on with me or asks people to think or do anything (without fail, someone I care about will just get mad when I do that!). Visiting 2-5 times a week is fine, but I don’t want to be a daily user anymore. No more mobile app usage.
  • What I’ll use Twitter for going forward: Toning it down to a single post daily, and up to 5 comments. Sunsetting my open “ask me anything” policy, which takes a lot of time and returns no value to me (it seemed like it should, but it never did). Also, I’ll likely not be participating in any more twitter chats for a while. I really don’t belong there, and they always leave me feeling tense. The mobile app stays deleted.
  • What I’ll use LinkedIn for going forward: TBD, full overhaul coming soon. I’ll be removing all connections that are not directly related to work I have done, or want to do in the future. Also removing any connections who like to argue with for sport instead of for our mutual betterment. I plan to delete all posts that are over 2 years old or have less than 100 views, which I may revise and repost. Basically, I’m getting very picky about who I use LinkedIn for, and aiming to deliver value to them and them alone with every single interaction on the platform. I’m reinstalling the mobile app for use at events only, and will stay logged out the rest of the time.
  • What I’ll use Instagram for going forward: Posting stuff occasionally as usual, and only when it’s good. This is the only social media mobile app that I’m keeping.
  • What I’ll use my blogs for going forward: I have too many places that I put my writings (SnapSynapse.com, DigitalLearningAssetFramework.com, LinkedIn.com, etc.). Over the next few months, I’m going to dial it all back. For instance, my main business website will turn into a more of an evergreen reference portal instead of a weekly blog. I’m also going to blow up this website (again) and rebuild it anew from the ground up by the end of the year. Your suggestions on what you’d like to see here in 2019 are most welcome!
  • Though I may have profiles configured, I never really got into using Snapchat, Whatsapp, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, and the others. This experience solidified my position that I’m not going to start.

I chose to brake my social media fast by visiting Myspace yesterday — it had been over 5 years since I last logged in. Everything had changed, almost all my stuff was gone. No one I cared about had been there for some time. This made me think about where Facebook will be in 5 years, and what new and better tech will rise up in that time. I had a vision of Amazon buying it up in that time, with Twitter going to Google. LinkedIn is already Microsoft property, and gets creepier every day. They’ll all have to broker with Apple to get on the wearables that will be trending then, who will continue to change the rules on everybody all the time just as they do now. Or maybe all this stuff will go the way of the once important fax machine. Who knows?

All I know is that I only want what is of use to me in making the world a better place to be. Social media can…but usually doesn’t these days. The same can sadly be said for a lot of tech.

I want a life that’s low-distraction. This is a lot easier with less social media. It’s also a lot easier for me now because one of the things I finally solved in my month off was my recurring phone problem. I now own the best cellphone I’ve ever had — though it’s not what you’d expect from a guy like me. I’ve reverted back to my old Dumbphone + Tablet approach that worked for me so well years ago. I’m very happy with the results with my Kyocera DuraXV + iPad Mini 2! Having two tetherable devices on separate providers solves a bunch of my issues. I’m a weirdo, I know.

So yeah, this thing can’t run any apps, social media or otherwise. It’s just a phone. A really, really good and practically indestructible phone. Which none of my smartphones ever were, even though my last one cost 8x what I paid for this and was struggling to perform what I consider critical functions within a year. Somehow I doubt this thing will give me that kind of trouble.

Did I cover all your questions? If not, please use the comments below to ask. Hey, while you’re at it, comment all you like! And thanks for reading 🙂