Digital De-Clutter Re-Cap

dog computer

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:

Be human

Be calm

Be mindful

Seek flow

Be kind

Express gratitude

Extend your abilities

Risk vulnerability

Engage with the world

Make conscious choices

Restore yourself

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.

Digital De-Clutter Day 1


I’m sitting here suffocating in calendars and planners. It’s not a bad way to die, actually.

Today is New Years Day and I’m a little hung over from too much champagne last night, but before I went to bed I remembered to delete from my phone: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I also deleted The New York Times and The Washington Post apps, and stopped all notifications to my watch. I will not get a haptick everytime Trump tweets something dangerous or insane.  Probably for the best.

The last email from Cal came on Thursday. Here’s the gist of it:

  • Don’t log on to any social media accounts during the experiment.
  • Don’t read news online.
  • Don’t use the internet for entertainment. (no web surfing, YouTube videos, etc.)
  • Restrict Text messaging if you’re a heavy user.
  • No blogs, but you can live-stream movies and listen to podcasts.

Here are my adaptations. Social Media is gone, except for a daily Facebook check-in (notifications only) so see if anyone has inquired about yoga classes.

Today, Day One, I already had to jump on FB briefly to promote today’s Power Yoga class, and upload my monthly newsletter, but I got off quickly without checking anything else.

(So proud.)

Online news reading is gone, and I have to confess I missed it with my coffee this morning, but I’m into a good novel, The History of Love, so the pain of not having an Opinion piece to seethe over was assuaged. Somewhat.

I have decided to allow myself the Morning Joe podcast. It’s only 40 minutes and it will meet my need to know what’s going on in the world a little.

I’m really happy this cleanse allows podcasts because they’re the source of so much intellectual stim for me.

I’m not a big TV watcher anyway, nor do I use the internet for entertainment, (if you don’t count FB and Twitter and Insta) so that’s no hardship.

I also don’t read blogs, but I have committed to posting to this one every Monday for the year, so I’ll allow myself this indulgence.

When I got up, I checked my weather app. I looked at my Gmail inbox. And that was it.  It took me like, 5 minutes.

I can do this. I can.


The Problem with Facebook

Thanks to my power juice, and rest, and lots of reading, I think my bout of the crud is on the way out.

I felt energetic enough this afternoon to go to Wegmans and re-stock the fruits and veggies.

In the Nature’s Marketplace section I ran into one of my friends and yoga students and people I follow on Facebook.

It was weird because even though I have only been “off Facebook” for one day, when I saw this person, I wondered: Is there anything up with him that he expects me to be “up on?”

What if he had posted something momentous and expected me to know about it? And what if my not mentioning it would lead him to think that I didn’t care about his momentous thing?

(Holy shit. Facebook is complicated.)

I knew that somewhere in our conversation I needed to tell him that I was on a media fast and was not going to check Facebook for this week, just so he wouldn’t think I was ignoring his momentous thing.

(Not that he posted a momentous thing, but just in case.)

My confession of my media fast, turned into a very interesting exchange about how all this social media has changed out interactions with one another.

I made him swear that he wouldn’t go home and report that he had seen me in the canola oil aisle at Wegmans.  (He promised, but of course there is not way for me to check on this unless I cheat and go on Facebook tonight, which I am not going to do.)

But it made me think that this was what I really LIKE about Facebook. I like it when I run into someone at Wegmans, whose life I follow on Facebook, that we can engage each other from a place of already knowing “the backstory” of at least some aspect of each other’s lives.

Because when you don’t keep up with people on social media and you run into them, your interchange tends to be of the “Hi, how ya doin'” variety and it just ends there.

But if you know that they have just come back from a trip or are putting an addition on their house, or whatever, you can then engage them more meaningfully, and maybe say: Hey, that addition is really super!”

And I like that.

What I don’t like about Facebook is that it sucks me down into itself for longer than I would like, and when I I finally re-surface, the time that I would have to liked to have spent reading or cleaning or or moving my many on-going projects forward, has been frittered away on Facebook.

And that makes me cranky.

It’s something I have to figure out.

Accentuating The Postive. Eliminating The Negative

Social Media Landscape

Today’s Reverb10 prompt is: what do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing –and can you eliminate it.

Of course the answer is: All my internet addictions: facebook, twitter, email, blog reading.  Sometimes I tell myself that the blog reading in particular gets my juices going, gets my mind thinking in bloggy ways, and while that does happen sometimes, it happens far more often when I read books.  So I’d be better off spending the time reading rather than wasting time online.

Most of what I do online is avoidance behavior, but a lot of it is also voyeuristic.  I want to see what other people are doing with their time, with their lives. I want to know what their “obsessions du jour” are. Do I want to know these things in order to be inspired?  To feel companionship? To feel connected?   All of the above?  None?

If it is connection I crave, who am I connected to?  And how deep are those connections?  When I have to answer that question, the truth is revealed.

But if I were to be really and truly honest I’d have to say that  I spend time online because it is just plain fun.  It makes me happy.  It has always made me happy, from the first day I opened an email account back in ’93 or ’94, until this day.

I have always loved my computers, my babies, and  I have always loved the internet. I have always wanted to know more about the  innards of these magic machines, and I have always been frustrated with the limits of my knowledge about them. I have even dreamed of going to study web design.  I purely and simply just dig it the whole scene.  It has provided me with hours and hours of happy.

But it is, without question, a time suck.   I’ve tried limiting myself to a daily portion of online “calories” of its yumminess but as with food, computer diets never work.

I’ve also tried “media fasting” where I unplug for a weekend, or just a day, and that definitely feels good.  Once I’m off, I don’t really miss it all that much. (For a while.)

So for me it’s a matter of limiting it rather than eliminating it.  I don’t want to eliminate it because if it were not for social media and blog reading I would never have found 750 words, where the idea for this post was born, or the reverb10 challenge that’s keeping me disciplined, and many other sites and people who have really enriched my life.

And if  I weren’t so in love and entranced with computers, I know I wouldn’t have a a website, or a blog, or the ability to make a podcast. I like that I can operate fairly competently in this whizzy world.  I like having these skillzzzz.

But the thing is, if I am, in my heart of hearts, a writer.  If I am, in the deepy-downy recesses of my soul, a person who loves words and yoga and the connection between the two, then there needs to be more time spent writing on 750 words, and blogging on this blog, and writing in my paper journal, and less time cruising around aimlessly, wasting gas online. I need to discipline myself to leave the internet and go into the yoga room and play on the mat and make discoveries there, so when I come back I have something to say.

The content for blogs and tweets and facebook status updates–at least content that’s interesting and sometimes even helpful for others, can most reliably be found for me when I go and DO things, and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, and create CHANGE.

Whenever I think, “I have nothing to write about,” that should be the red flag to STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER and go live life:  read a book, have a conversation, do some yoga, workout, write.  I don’t want to eliminate social media, I just need to use it better.  I need to put a little fence around it with a sign that says: Playground Hours are from blank to blank.  I need to be doing more living so I’ll have a better chance to be able to share  something useful and valuable here.

So here’s a little Aretha to give it to you a bit more soulfully:

Logging In To This Moment

I’m a big fan of the Buddhist Geeks podcast, because even though I don’t “identify” as a Buddhist per se, I certainly feel a deep affinity for much in Buddhist philosophy, particularly Zen.

Back in early March, there was a great interview with a guy named Soren Gordhamer about how technology, particularly social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc) and spirituality intersect.

Like I said, it was a great interview and if you want to read it, or download it into your Ipod, you can go here and do so.

I got Gordhamer’s book, Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets For The Creative and Constantly Connected, after that interview, because are you kidding me? Creative and Constantly Connected?? Could there be a better description of me?  I think not!

But I have a deep shame about how I am constantly connected. I am totally addicted to entranced with media: blogs, FB, Twitter, podcasts, email, you name it.  I have tried controlling my online addiction through various Draconian measures, such as media fasting during the weekends (dismal failure), internet dieting (no internet after 7 PM) (hah!), and by vowing to read a book a week instead of browsing the web so there would be no time to be online, thereby replacing a good habit (reading) with a bad one (browsing).  Fail.

This week I am actually reading the Gordhamer book, and it is very cool.  He uses tech language to describe Zen concepts.  The one that lit me up today was “Logging in to this moment.”

This idea is intimately linked to the Tollean concept of “The Now.”  (It’s not really a Tollean concept, but Tolle‘s is the most current and pop culture articulation of it).  Everybody knows (theoretically, intellectually) that there is only “now.” The trouble is, we keep forgetting it, and we don’t always have  a quickie way to get back to it, once we’ve strayed (deeply) out of it.

And here’s where Gordhamer’s genius articulation of “logging in to the moment” comes in.  Gordhamer says, “Logged out of the moment? No problem, just log back in.”

So this is what I see in my head:

This is the inner login screen:



And this is how I fill it in:

Username: Kath

Password: Yoga.

Then I hit login, and I’m good to go.  Back in the moment. (ahhh….)

So all day I’ve been watching myself as I’ve been tooling through my day, and whenever I catch myself “futuring” (i.e. projecting myself into imaginary future scenarios) I say to myself, “Kath, log into this moment.”  And I go to the login screen in my head, and bam.  Back.

And this, my friends, is what inspired me today!

(logging out of this moment.)


I love blogs. I read a lot of them too, and am inspired and blown away by them.

On most of the blogs I read, I am what is known as a “lurker.”  I just read and never comment. I don’t know why, I just don’t.  But today I read a post and felt like responding to the writer, so I wrote her a little “fan” comment, telling her how much I enjoy her writing and the things she shares.

But when I hit “send” I got caught up in some registration crap that I didn’t have time to fill out, so I just aborted the comment. Now she’ll never know how much I like her blog.

I also won’t do the deciphering of the trippy letters to prove that I’m not a robot.  If your blogging software doesn’t allow your readers to comment freely (mediated comments are okay) on your blog, you really need to change platforms.

And this aborted comment episode was followed by a notification that someone was following me on Twitter.  But when I went to see this person’s profile in order to determine if I wanted to follow back, it was locked.  I had to send a “special request’ to see this person’s profile and ‘tweet” history.

No.  Not gonna do it.  It’s ridiculous.

Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of Twitter??  If you have to ‘lock” your “Tweets” don’t even bother, will ya?  It’s ridiculous!  It’s social media, people!  If you want to have private conversations with selected people, just email them for goddsakes!  Don’t Twitter, you twit!

Oh, and while I’m on a rant here, here’s something that bugs me about Facebook.  Don’t write a status update that goes like this:  “Feeling really pissed today.”  Or: “I am so disappointed in life.”  Don’t do that, k?  If you express a strong emotion, good or bad, elaborate a little!  Don’t force people to feel like they have to ask, “What’s wrong?”  It’s a shameless bid for attention.  It’s what pouty first graders do. It’s juvenile.  Don’t update at all if you can’t elaborate, k?

(end of rant.)

So where was I?  Yes. Blogs.  I read quite a few, so tonight I finally got around to putting some of my daily reads on my sidebar under (what else?) “Blogroll.”

I wish all my friends would blog!  Some of them do, and I love them and listed them (mouse over the title of the blogs to read my little descriptions of them), as well as some really famous bloggers that you probably already know about.

If you happen to know of a blog you think I ought to check out, let me know, okay?

I am always looking for even more reasons to defer the really important and crucial task I should be doing.