Life without Twitter, Facebook, newsmedia and excessive web browsing has changed the way I spend time, both personally and at work. It’s been incredibly revealing, sometimes frustrating, and, overall, unexpectedly calming.
5 days into my media fast (and counting)…
Going cold turkey this past week, I realized I actually qualified as addicted to Facebook. Whenever I was waiting for anything, I would want to check Facebook. Or check Twitter. Or read newsmedia. Ya know, to keep up with (or stay ahead of) my friends and the world. This desire to check would happen at my computer and in the real world — thanks to iPhone.
In some perverse desire to be “the best” (I honestly can’t quantify this), I had developed an urge to always see what was going on. Always stay connected. What did that really add to my life? Nothing much. The more interesting question is: What has subtracting that urge added to my life?
I don’t feel any absurd “responsibility” to check and update Facebook or Twitter. You probably know what I mean. “Oh, I haven’t posted anything today” or “Man, I should really check so-and-so’s wall” or “I’ll just check the newsfeed really quickly” This alone is worth the price of admission.
My head is clearer and feel like I’ve slowed down my life. I really think that being inundated with what hundreds of people are doing/thinking/expressing throughout any given day taxed my brain, and made me feel like I needed to go 100mph to keep up.
I read more. Since Tuesday, I have finished The Four Hour Workweek, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and am halfway through The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Plus, I’m lazily enjoying my reread of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series. Before Tuesday, I think I finished about 1 book per two weeks. If that.
I’m more productive when I single-task. Not having Twitter, Facebook and Gchat open while I’m trying to research a potential new client actually causes me to focus on just researching that new client. Which I get done faster and do a better job. Shocker.
I have more free time. One could probably deduce that from the above, but I’m not spending any idle time online. In so many ways, it feels like I’m on vacation. You know, when no one can contact you but those who you want (or those who really want) to reach out? Yeah, it’s that feeling.
For the first time in years, I actually just listened to music. It used to be a favorite past-time of mine; to sit and do nothing but listen to music (in my room, not on the go). I had forgotten this until yesterday, when instead of feeling compelled to browse and connect online, I lay on my bed and listened to my iTunes library. It was an amazing and relaxing moment.
I have the best conversation starter I have ever had. Without checking any news, I can open conversations with “Anything interesting going on in the world?” As an added bonus, I actually have things to talk about with close friends whom I would usually stalk on Facebook. “I haven’t been checking Facebook, how’s life?”
Bonus, because people have been asking: how has this Facebook Addict gone Cold Turkey?
1) Download Leechblock for Firefox. This extension prevents access to any site you designate for whatever time you specify — in my case 24/7 — and adds a password for moments of weakness.
2) Disable all notifications from Twitter/Facebook through their respective Account Preferences pages. I am no longer notified about anything in Gmail.
3) If you have a smartphone (iPhone, Crackberry, Palm Pre, Android) delete the Facebook and Twitter applications. It’s tough, but they are always re-downloadable.