Reclaiming my Brain: My Upcoming Social Media Hiatus

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“Who am I in the midst of all this thought traffic?” -Rumi

I’ve decided to take a social media hiatus for the month of January (at least). There are about a billion reasons for this, but I wanted to catalog them here in case I forget or I want to reverse course.

Why I’m Doing This

I’ve been losing focus on things that matter. I want to create. I want to think about bigger ideas. I want to do some long-form reading for a change. I realized something was wrong recently when I couldn’t focus on a long-form blog post I was reading because I had the urge to check Twitter – while I was walking from one office to another during work. It’s time for a change. I need to become a citizen of the real world again.

The Social Media Outlets I’m Currently Using

So, what will I be giving up? The list is extensive when I lay it all out.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google +
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Quora
  • FellowUp
  • Timehop
  • Foursquare
  • IFTTT (disabling my social recipes)
  • Path
  • Sonar
  • Undrip
  • Bonus: computer games

I’ll allow myself e-mail, but only as a tool to reach out when necessary or to reconnect with friends. While using it, I’ll be unsubscribing from everything possible so I can stop the deluge of e-mail I get. I’ll also allow myself to write, and may actually start putting some personal thoughts out there somewhere (this blog has always been largely technical.)

What I hope to Achieve

  • Better Sleep. I was constantly browsing social media and Google Reader before sleep, which would be fine, except I had to read all of it. I’m hoping this will let me turn off the screen before bed and get some solid sleep.
  • Better Focus. I want to do some deep thinking on projects & problems. I want to free up space for my mind to fill in with ideas, etc.
  • Better Memory. Due to the nature of my brain jumping around all the time I think, my memory has become terrible due to transient information constantly bombarding it. I want to do some exercises and see if I can’t improve my memory.
  • Better Friendship. My friendship skills have seriously an inexcusably fallen off. Social media doesn’t equate with being social. I need to get out in the world again and say hello instead of typing it.
  • Better Performance at Work. I get a lot done at work, but I’m excited to see what can happen when I’m not pulling away during every spare minute of downtime to catch up on the social media world.
  • More Deep Learning. Even over this holiday, I’ve found that I’m able to focus on tutorials and technical reading much better, because there’s not the promise of some tweet to keep me occupied every other minute.
  • Read an actual book. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I finished an actual paper book.
  • Stepping back from the Political scene. I’m way involved, and I’m letting others’ opinions pass for my own when I agree with them. That’s not good enough. I want to see if I can dig deep and attempt to solve some problems in a comprehensive way, and I want to put something out there that others can challenge and build upon or critique. Hiding behind the opinions of others doesn’t cut it.
  • Switching from “Consume” to “Produce” mode. I have ideas I want to build, but the state of mind for building and consuming are distinctly different, I’ve found, and it’s not easy to switch from one to the other (at least not for me).
  • Separating Signal from Noise. I hope that stepping back will help remind me what’s important and what I actually miss about social media, which will help me learn to more wisely consume it in the future.

How I’m Preparing & Cutting Myself Off

My brother accepted the challenge to barricade me from Social media, so I’m giving him the keys to the kingdom. I’ll be doing the following:

  • Analyzing social media, the e-mails I’ve received, and apps I have linked to Facebook/Twitter. This is my detox list.
  • Disabling the connections to all third-party apps that could ping me in those accounts.
  • Stopping any e-mail alerts from these sites.
  • Removing these apps from my phone.
  • Having my brother change the passwords for each of those accounts in front of me.
  • Utilizing a blocker – in every web browser on every computer – to completely block all of the aforementioned web sites.

Possible Issues

  • Self-sabotage. I’m crafty, and while I think I can stay away, I’m sure it will be tempting to try to open something. If you see me on social media somehow in January, yell at me. Like, a lot.
  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Apparently this is a real thing, and I’m sure I’ll experience some of it, but I’m hoping that it won’t materialize.


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