I’ve grown increasingly unhappy with how social media dictates my time and attention. So for the first month of 2017 I will not be using any form of social media.
Recently I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work. I’ve always been a fan of his productivity blog, and picked up his book as soon as I saw it in Goodread’s books of the year. In Deep Work, Newport gives his tips on how to produce meaningful work. A recurring theme in the book is the contrast of meaningful ‘deep’ tasks versus busy ‘shallow’ tasks.
Some examples of shallow tasks include administrative work, responding to emails, and social media usage.
Deep tasks include research, practicing (think musical instruments, a skill, sports), writing, and thinking (the entrepreneurial kind).
I can’t reduce administrative work or emails due to my work, but I can reduce my social media consumption.
Social media, in its many forms occupies a great deal of our time while not allowing us to produce deep tasks.
“I have to practice the piano, oh but let me check Twitter for 30 minutes.”
Even before I read the book, I felt a growing resentment towards how much my social media accounts fracture my attention. It’s as if I’ve rewired my brain to either:
1. Produce content for social media
2. Observe the content produced by others
Producing content is my habitual state to share something on instagram, snapchat, or facebook. Observing content is looking at direct messages or snaps sent to me by friends, reading something someone posted on my facebook wall, or just perusing through my instagram feed.
It’s so easy to while away time browsing social media for me. I don’t consider that time productive, but it’s hard to stop because I find it so entertaining. There are always funny cat photos and click-bait articles that catch my attention. I just open my fb app to check a post I’m tagged in, but before I realize, I’m 4 different browser tabs deep:
reading about a crazy proposal in Disneyland
shopping for a trendy stuffed animal on amazon
tagging my friend in a cat meme
googling whether Kylie Jenner and Tyga are together. (Are they?)
It’s as if I’ve rewired my brain to concentrate on as many things as possible at the same time. I’m a slave to my phone. My hand reaches for it CONSTANTLY as a habit – when I first wake up, in the middle of eating, before I drive somewhere, after I drive somewhere, in an elevator, as soon as I get off a plane, before bed, and the list goes on.
Whenever I look at my phone, it interrupts my line of thought and I end up spending more time ‘resetting’ my brain in order to return to my previous task.
The reason I’ve never decreased my social media usage before is because it’s the biggest source of my entertainment. I’ve also been worried that by decreasing my social media usage, I’ll lose connections with my friends or acquaintances.
“Oh but I have a 200 day snapchat streak with someone, oh but we have the snapchat BFF heart, I’ll lose instagram followers, I’ll miss special events on Facebook.”
It’s finally gotten to the point that I’m willing to make those trade-offs in order to re-route my brain to focus on deep tasks. It’s not pleasurable, but I need to do it. I can lose some acquaintances, some snapchat streaks, some instagram followers in order to perform the deep tasks that I really want to but just don’t get around to. (Like the title of this blog, for example?)
For January 2017, I will:
1. Delete the following apps off my phone/Ipad and block the browsers on my work computer.
- Snapchat (goodbye my besties)
2. Refrain from using any of the above listed apps and the following websites.
- twitter (I don’t personally tweet but I do read other people’s tweets on my browser)
I will still be using facebook messanger, Whatsapp, and imessage to communicate with friends. I will continue to blog and read blogs that I follow.
What I hope to gain from this social media fast is mental clarity and to more time to perform meaningful tasks. Who knows, maybe I’ll pick up some new hobbies with the extra time I save.
Concurrently with this social media fast, I will also be doing another diet challenge for the month of January so please stay tuned for more blog posts!
Have you ever gone on a social media fast? How did it go?
*I’m still unsure about my Youtube consumption. I want to completely veto the website for the month because I spend a great deal of time on there – but on January 2nd my favorite kpop group is releasing an MV and I’d like to watch that to support them. (Which includes their stages on weekly music shows as well)