Well, it’s been a couple of months since I returned to Facebook & Twitter after my one-month hiatus (plan here
, results here
). Time to reflect on where I’m at now with my social network usage. As you may have guessed from the title & image, it’s not going too well.
I am completely, hopelessly addicted to Facebook. I check it several times a day, eagerly checking for new notifications or comments in response to my contributions. The “twitchiness” of checking email, Twitter & Facebook several times a day is back. One of my conclusions was that Facebook has a value and that I miss it when I’m not there, and I fear that now I’ve given myself “permission” to go on Facebook, I’ve let myself get sucked in. I realize now that Facebook is designed to be addictive. Seeing the “Likes” on your posts is like popping pills that give you an amphetamine rush. The stream of new “notifications” is an intravenous drip delivering compliments and ego strokes directly into your psyche.
I guess that makes sense, if you're not tweeting, people don't see you. They're more likely to unfollow you for tweets they don't like than for not tweeting. It's useful to know, because I sometimes feel "Oh I haven't tweeted something for a while, I really should, so as not to let my followers down". The stats seem to suggest followers will not abandon you if you don't tweet, which is reassuring…
Well, it’s December now, and that means it must be time for me to jump back onto Facebook and Twitter. But before I do, I wanted to gather my thoughts about the experience and share what I have learnt from it. I thought I’d do this in a form of a Q & A with myself.
What was it like?
Well for one thing, it was not as hard as I imagined it would be. I used a variety of techniques to physically block myself
from Twitter and Facebook – but it turned out these were not necessary, willpower was sufficient. The closest I got was when other websites or apps tried to embed Facebook boxes or twitter feeds and I almost got tricked into clicking through. I suppose one telling thing is that now it’s the 5th of December and I haven’t rushed back on Facebook and Twitter yet, even though I could have five days ago. My main reason was I wanted to get this blog post written first, before I am “polluted” by going back on – but even so, I haven’t been in a great hurry. Another thing I noticed was several times when out and about and I had the urge to tweet or post to Facebook, it felt a little odd not to share that moment – but it wasn’t a big deal and the feeling soon subsided. Overall, the experience wasn’t hard at all.
Was it more relaxing being away from social media?
Definitely. The most amazing thing is I actually feel like time slowed down. That’s a pretty profound thing to say, but when I think back to the beginning of November, it seems like months ago.
As you know, I'm off Facebook and Twitter this month. But I'm still blogging. One of my blogs, posterous, has this handy feature where it automatically shares post links across my social networks.
But it's not supposed to do it automatically. However, I'm pretty sure, anecdotally, that it did retweet this post
So I edited the settings and I thought I'd fixed it. But I just did some more blogging today and yesterday, and judging by the number of viewers Posterous reports on this post
, I think I may be still doing so. I don't want to go on Facebook or Twitter to check (strictly no access!) so I thought I'd abuse this apparent defect to make sure anyone following my Facebook or Twitter understands that I am not actually using those services this month, it's just the wiring of the tubes!
If you read my last post you’ll know I’m taking a break from social media for a month. That post explained the general reasons why.
In this post I’ll add a little more detail on what exactly I’m doing, and how.
Here’s the things I’m doing for November..
- Blocking my computers from accessing Facebook or Twitter.
- Turning off all Facebook and Twitter alerts on my email and on my phone.
- Deleting all Facebook or Twitter-related apps on my iPhone and iPad.
- Turning off and putting away my Chumby.
- Unlink Twitter from Flipboard, sobeeslite and other news apps.
- Turning off NutshellMail and Twilert, two services I use which send Twitter and Facebook updates to my inbox.
- Disabling Google Alerts, Slashdot newsletters, and any other regular emails that arrive in my inbox.
- Turning off Google Buzz within Gmail (I can’t disable it completely without deleting my Google Profile).
- Disable all notifications (including email and IM) on my iPhone and iPad.
- Disabling anything else that pops up early in November that I might have forgotten about that seems like a regular notification or distraction.
2-10 are all fairly straightforward.
1 is a little more interesting.
The solution I am going for is to edit the hosts file on my computer (/etc/hosts on the Mac), and add an entry which remaps twitter.com
to different addresses – probably google news and my blog respectively). As of yet I haven’t found a way to do this on the iPad or iPhone so I may just need to rely on willpower there… Unless anyone has any suggestions?
[To read the follow up to this post, reflecting on the experience, go here.]