The whole idea behind this project was to help me align my social media habits with my values.
Here is my personal Manifesto which I wrote a few years ago during my Winterlude:
Extend your abilities
Engage with the world
Make conscious choices
These are the things I aspire to. This is the kind of person I want to become. These things may not be values in and of themselves, but they express my core values.
If I go back to engaging with social media in the same way I did prior to this media fast, I would endanger “calmness.”
If I go back to engaging with media as I did before, I would not be making “conscious choices” but voluntarily submitting to manipulation.
Because I would be in a constant state of agitation and fear all the time, it would be a lot harder to be kind, especially towards people who don’t share my world-view.
I also wouldn’t have time to “extend my abilities” because I would be dithering around, wasting lots of creative moments engaging with info way beyond my locus of control.
Since I am always looking for ways to hack into the flow state, social media has to go because it is flow kryptonite.
Sometimes FB, etc allow me a platform to express gratitude, and if I use it that way (exclusively), it would align with my manifesto/values. But most of the time I don’t use it as a platform for gratitude expression; I use it to confirm my hair-trigger negativity biases.
Is social media a way I might “engage with the world?” Might that be a justification for continuing to use it?
Well, if I’m honest, I really don’t “engage” as much as I simply act the voyeur.
I do like saying Happy Birthday to people, as corny as that is. That one interaction with others has been the single thing I’ve missed the most this month. I also like hearing about engagements, and happy relationship status updates, and seeing pictures of new babies and grand babies. I like extending congratulations when good things happen. I like being part of a crowd of people making a “joyful noise.”
And when someone dies, or needs support, I like knowing about that, too, so I can extend condolences or provide some real-world support.
But that’s it.
I can’t post political junk anymore. I can’t foment outrage anymore: Did you see THIS??? (“This” being some outrageous political decision, or some gut-wrenching planet-endangering disaster.)
No. I just can’t do that anymore.
So here’s the plan going forward:
I’m not going to reload FB or Twitter on my phone. It’s just too much.
I’m also not going to reset notifications. I don’t need to be “notified.”
I’ll check the socials: FB —but just notifications. I don’t need to troll through my entire, often bot-infested feed. I’ll graze around in Twitter occasionally.
I’m going to be happy to reload Instagram, however. I like pictures, and I miss seeing the pics of the people I follow there.
I am going to go back to reading the NYTimes and the The Washington Post online. Unless, I find that they disrupt my equanimity too much, or I find the content I read there bleeds into my life too deeply, or spikes my cortisol to the point that I have trouble down-regulating it.
This is going to be the tricky part. I’m going to have to be really careful here. But shifting reading news to the late afternoon, rather than the morning, will help. (I hope.)
That’s it. It’s been a revelatory month. I’m glad I did this. Thanks to Cal Newport for suggesting it. I hope he posts his findings. I’m really curious about how the others made out this month.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my journey. I am super curious to know how other people manage the time-suck of social media, so if you have any tips, or just want to commiserate, let me know in the comments.