The Curse of Being Connected

By Deane Barker on February 18, 2012

Happiness Takes (a little) Magic: I really enjoyed this reflective post on how technology and dehumanize us.  Brian writes about how he’s backing away from most online media, which is suspect is how a social media backlash will eventually start.

I owe my livelihood to technology and I love the raw capability it offers us as a tool, but I fear it a bit more than most people do. It’s a tool, but it’s not quite a hammer, because a hammer doesn’t seduce you into sitting around lonely in your underwear for 6 hours at a stretch clicking on youtube videos and refreshing Twitter. I fear technology because I fear that bad feeling I get after a three day XBox binge I go through every year around the holidays. I fear technology not because I think it’s evil, but because it’s too easy to start clicking and never stop, even if the stream of data starts to go from meaningful to useless after the top 5%.

The author mercilessly cut down the media he consumed.

The first thing I did was to take back my time. I quit all the online content that was id-provoking and knee jerk. I stopped reading the stupid hyped up news stories that are press releases or rants about things that will get fixed in a week. I stopped reading the junk and about the junk that was new, but not good. I stopped reading blogs that write stories like “top 17 photos of awesome clouds by iphone” and “EXCLUSIVE ANGRY BIRDS COMING TO FACEBOOK ON VALENTINES DAY.”

I can’t say I’m doing the same thing, but I’ve started to try and be more conscious about what I consume.  I went through an RSS purge some time ago, and that’s helped enormously.

Additionally, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Reddit, but I’ve just discovered that 90% of the trivialness of Reddit is found in three subreddits: Pics, Funny, and WTF.  Unsubscribe from these three, and it’s an entirely different site.

I tweet consistently, and I probably spent too much time on Facebook – I check in about once an hour, even if it’s just for a few seconds.  (But, for the record, Facebook has really enabled me to stay in touch with some people I never would hear from otherwise.)  I’d like to put some distance between be a the news, but I’ve been a CNN junkie for years.

I read a great book some time ago called 59 Seconds, which is about ways to improve your life in less than a minute.  While it doesn’t talk about social media specifically, it does talk about the need to disconnect, and discusses some scientific studies that prove we’d do better giving more quiet time to our inner voices to solve larger problems.  (I talked about a related concept six years ago in Are you procrastinating?  Or are you just thinking?)  It’s worth reading.

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Comments

  1. Personally, I think the true key to ‘net-zen’ is to strive for moderation; if you spend your life updating and maintaining profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Vimeo and Digg while making posts on forums, checking 4 different email addresses and keeping your personal blog – and the two people who read it – updated to the minute, you know you’ve gone too far. There was a time when that person was me, when I was hopelessly caught in the world of social media. But now I have freed myself – None of that, one email address, a personal website. That’s pretty much it. Be careful what you sign up for in the first place, and if you find yourself not using something, post a goodbye note explaining your exit and then delete your account. It is a much better life when all the extra noise is turned off, and you can take time to appreciate the silence.

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