Losing My Edge: Internet Edition

I’m walking away from social media. Again.

I’ve gone back and forth on this a bunch. With regard to the evolution of our society’s communication, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that the combo online news/social media future dream system we’ve built has major problems and doesn’t really solve that much. I think I want out. It’s difficult because if you just turn and walk away it feels like you’re going to miss out on a lot, plus you know, that feeling is enforced by the system itself:

Of course you are required to explain yourself, and then asked to explain further:

I could trim down my friends/connections to actual 100% everyday friends rather than an extended network of friends/acquaintances. This seems to work for some people that have a similar struggle. I’ve tried that in the past and I’ve found there’s still a substantial amount of negative unsettling noise filtering through my life every day. Personally, I can’t just see it => filter it with my brain => go about my business and not feel a negative impact. I’ve determined that I’m 100% a person that interacts with social media and when I’m done I’m a bit depressed. Plus there’s the whole issue of all of it being a system of propaganda and manipulation, by a lot of different parties, to wit:

I believe I’d be continuing to act foolishly to know that these networks (and the rest) have these sorts of issues and yet keep exposing myself to them every day. News isn’t that important in the long run.

I say this as a Facebook shareholder. I’ll have to figure that out too.

The whole social media game is about addiction and unfortunately my only real addictions in life seem to be sugar and internet words. And adulation. Terrible combo.

First steps

I’m leaving the social media accounts active. I need Facebook and Twitter oauth for all the places I’ve stupidly done that for convenience. Hopefully I have the willpower to just cold turkey all of it and leave it in place. If I find myself getting roped back in, which I have done multiple times in the past and thought it funny or whatever, I’ll figure that out incrementally. I do use Facebook messenger to talk to people directly and don’t see that changing.

I’ll probably just delete the Twitter account outright as soon as I figure out what I authenticate with it, because I have never seen any real value in Twitter.

Instagram is harder to leave, because at one point when I was younger I was a photographer and I do plan to get back into photography more. Like with a non-phone camera and everything. And it’s nice to have an audience for things. But it affects me partly the same way, just not as intensely.

Facebook I actually like. It’s a powerful global whitepages. It keeps me in touch with people that I really like that I’ve either met online or have moved away from physically and have felt connection to because of the same technology.  It’s a dual-edged sword and I keep cutting my ears off. I wish I could just handle it in bits, and maybe there’s some way to eventually figure that out.

I know people who have social media accounts and can lurk 1 or 2 times a week on a break, or they’ll show up and post about a specific thing and then leave. To me, they’re like the people that can have a cigarette or two at a party and never smoke otherwise, meanwhile I’m the guy that starts with one or two and then it turns into 2 packs a day. I’ve never smoked but I feel like a carton a week smoker when it comes to this.

I’ve done this before, sort of

I have done something similar, and it changed my life for the better. I stopped watching TV of any kind around 1991 or 1992, after reading the book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and then a few others about mass media. I really gave it some thought and realized that the system itself is at odds with my own values and what feels right to me. Funny enough, TV has also crept back into my life over the last 10 years or so as it’s all transforming into one thing, plus I married someone who really likes TV.

When I did a complete stop on the TV viewing, I felt like a bit of a weirdo at first. Just a bit though, as I had always felt that way. For example, I had been a teetotaller up to that point in my life (and until I was almost 30). A lot of people drink. I’ve found in general that whenever you don’t do things that most people around you do it’s just a bit odd until it’s second nature for you and everyone you know gets it and gets that you’re not actually judging them by not doing what they are doing. Beyond that there were no downsides from not watching TV that I recall.

What I liked best about that time was that I was doing many more things in a given week. After about 6 months of no TV, I felt like I had about 20x the creative energy and a lot more time to do things with that energy. I wrote all the time. I took something I liked doing when I was younger, computer programming, and dove into it and taught myself on a much deeper level, which resulted in starting an actual career path which has worked out really really well. I kept up with it for a long time. Do I care that I never saw an episode of the Sopranos or whatever else people were saying was important at the time? Not really. I might have felt differently about Twin Peaks, but that had already aired before I stopped. Maybe I should binge-watch the new Twin Peaks and then stop with the TV again…

Fast forward to now, and I’m just not as happy now as I was when I wasn’t part of these systems. When I really pay attention to what’s happening, that’s at the core of it for me. I feel fragmented and anxious and it’s clearly related to the anxiety/addiction loop of the social media/internet megatechnology machine. Back in the Usenet days or the BBS days or even the early web days there just weren’t that many people or things so it was sort of self-regulating. You went online, like you literally had your modem dial a number and connect to it, and then you read things, and then the things ran out so you’d sign off and go do other things. Now you’re online 24×7 and software is eating the world, as they say.

It makes me sad on the one hand because I know there will be a feeling of loss for the people I have contact with on a regular basis all over the place which will diminish significantly. The loss is the reason I’ve kept coming back on after deleting an account, which I’ve done 4 or 5 times now this decade. I won’t know what people are up to each week/constantly, but quality over quantity or something. I literally don’t know what else to do.

The experiment

I’m going to stop with the social media consumption. Since consuming social media has evolved, for me, into reading an inordinate amount of other media via the trillions of links that people post and yell about, that will likely stop as well. I’ll do my best to fend off the feeling of being “out of touch,” which is almost never true, as news and noise isn’t worth much in the long run. I’ll do more things that are more personally enjoyable.

I’ll eventually figure out how to get Google to stop showing me “Stories to Read” on the launcher on my phone, which over the last few android revisions has become seemingly impossible to turn off. And I’m going to probably stop with the TV again. My hope is that I’ll hopefully have more time and creative energy, and have more focus at work and in general. I think it will result in more calmness and having more time.

Maybe I’ll write more.

Maybe I’ll try acting or do some more stand-up comedy.

Maybe I’m just losing my edge.


Kurt Koller Written by:

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