Debating Leaving Social Media

I’m a big fan of the Internet. And for the most part, I do like what social media has to offer.

I’ve tried to curate my Twitter feed so that there’s more inspiration than yelling, but that’s not always the case. I think of Instagram as a more positive place, where people are just generally sharing positive images and getting positive feedback.

Lately though, I’ve been questioning whether I should take a leave. Just log out for a while and step back.

I was reading an article entitled How to Actually, Truly Focus on What You’re Doing by Tim Herrera. A few things in that article have stayed with me for some days now, and they’ve really gotten me thinking.

The notion of “embracing boredom” has been in my head now, ever since this article. I recall a college class (not sure if it was philosophy or psychology), where the professor said that most people, when asked to sit in a chair in an empty room, wouldn’t be able to do so for long. They’d get fidgety, bored, want to get up and wander around. Cal Newport’s suggestion is to fight against that impulse and to train yourself to “embrace boredom”:

A simple way to get started training this ability is to frequently expose yourself to boredom. If you instead always whip out your phone and bathe yourself in novel stimuli at the slightest hint of boredom, your brain will build a Pavlovian connection between boredom and stimuli, which means that when it comes time to think deeply about something (a boring task, at least in the sense that it lacks moment-to-moment novelty), your brain won’t tolerate it.

Another suggestion Newport has is to quit social media entirely. I’m not sure I can do that, but I’ve been considering it a lot lately. It’s a source of a lot of delight (and I spend a lot of time online, so it’s a world I inhabit). But I’ve also seen that it brings out some negative things as well. As much as I love Instagram, seeing posts of other people’s houses, other people’s vacations… it sometimes brings about a sense of jealousy and envy.

Add that to the twitchy sense of “I need to check X” all the time, hopping between Twitter and Instagram… and cutting that reflexive action out sounds like a really good thing. I do wonder (and it’s a stronger feeling than wonder) whether social media has deteriorated my attention span. And whether it’s now time for me to do something about that.

The kicker of this is: I found that NY Times article via Facebook.

Part of me was debating making some kind of announcement on social media, announcing a departure or hiatus. But that seemed like a silly thing to do. I don’t think people automatically assume folks are always available via Facebook anymore, and email is always an option.

I’ve been thinking on this a good while. Haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but feels like I will soon.

// Edit: leaving social media and continuing to work on a side project that involves Twitter’s API will be a fun balancing act.

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  1. I don’t have facebook or twitter installed on my phone (I do have instagram) and that alone has helped me a lot with reducing my impulse to grab the phone and browse idly.

    Melissa Reply

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