40 day social media fast

Vincent Danen

January 06, 2014

Being sick this Christmas season with a cold and a middle ear infection caused me to spend more time than I normally would have on Twitter and Facebook because it was a complete time-killer and I didn't have energy for anything productive. In fact, my one goal for this week and a half off of work was to clean my office and as I sit here typing this, I'm taking sad glances around me, to see that my one measly little goal didn't get accomplished. Which is frustrating and annoying.

I suspect if I had spent less time just wasting time (heck, even sleep would have been more productive), my office would be clean and I'd be feeling good about myself, until at least next week when it would become less-than-tidy again.

Obviously blaming social media here is silly, but it did get me to thinking about how much time I spend on these two sites (I have never attempted to measure it), and what I actually get out of the multiple-times-a-day visits. There's an extremely low "news value" from these sites, and I'm not as interested in what is going on in the lives of friends and family as I perhaps once thought I might be. In fact, when I really think about it, I realize that they are a complete, utter, and absolute waste of time. I seriously have better things to do with my time.

I've always liked the lyric "wasting time like it was free" (from a Godsmack song) because there is a definite cost to my time. If I look at what I charge people for my consultancy work, and if I applied that value to the time I spend on something that doesn't actually bring me any pleasure or money (which, I must add, is a very important thing -- if reading Facebook or Twitter was anything more than a "I'm sitting on the toilet and need something quick to read" or "I'm bored so will aimlessly wander around on social media sites", then I would not be making this decision or writing this blog post).

Strangely enough, I find more value on Google+ because it's all tech-related things that show up the odd time I go on there. I am going to put Google+ into the fast however.

So I'm going to fast from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I've already removed the apps from my phone (which is the only time I really look at them). And I think I'm going to close my Linkedin account because I get absolutely zero value from that and all the Linkedin endorsements and buddy requests and so on just annoy me. I mean, as an example, there is a wonderful woman who's daughter we took in for a few months as a friend/buddy/whatever on Linkedin and we know each other, but she doesn't really know the work that I do (other than it's computer-related). So for her to endorse me for my Ruby programming skills is a bit odd -- for one, I can say with 98% certainty that she has no idea what Ruby is other than it must be a geek thing, I'm a geek-ish person, so I must have the skill, right? Secondly, I don't have any Ruby skills so... yeah.. don't endorse me for Ruby. Now I doubt she thought one day that she would endorse me for a bunch of random crap, but Linkedin did helpfully suggest that maybe she'd like to endorse me for random crap? And so she did... probably because she was bored or thought it had some value for me (it doesn't).

Facebook and Twitter just irritate me, Linkedin actually cheeses me right off.

Anyways, I'm going to fast from these social media sites for 40 days. After that, we'll see. Maybe I'll find I didn't miss them at all and shut them down permanently. Maybe I'll be desperate to know what's been going on the last 40 days and will binge and spend a whole hour or so feasting my eyes with nonsense.

Will I miss hearing about friends who love their kids one day and hate them the next? Will I miss hearing about the seemingly constant misadventures of family when it comes to dating? Or dieting? Will I miss people who whine and complain about their crap lives? When Facebook was new and a novelty, I thought that sort of thing was amusing. Now I just find it sort of sad.

Postings from my blog will still get auto-posted to Facebook and Twitter. But if you intend to comment on them, you may want to do so here and not via either social media site as I won't see the response. Also, there's a few RSS feeds on my Facebook, but I have no idea how to configure the app to disable them, and it's just my blog and opensource.com (highly recommended!) anyways, so I'll leave those intact.

So February 15th is the day I either return to social media or ... don't. Right now, I'm betting on the latter. All social expression will be made here on my blog. Or Flickr. I intend to spend some time getting some photos I've been meaning to get up there so as to share (some great pics of our trip to Jasper and the Columbian Ice Fields last summer are my top priority).

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