I have become quite grumpy towards the web in 2017. I ended the year jaded.
During 2017, thanks to Trump and Brexit and growing negative sentiments in my social networks, I found myself reducing my use of social media. I weaned myself off a Facebook addiction, simply by uninstalling the mobile apps, installing the Facebook newsfeed eradicator to restrict any desktop usage to lookup rather than random discovery. My main use of Facebook was via Instagram where I continued to share photos which uploaded them automatically. I chose to keep Instagram due to the fact I had a small amount of people I followed there – the social network was manageable and I was able to see content from people I wanted to (although in March a product decision by Instagram to change the order of feed based on guesswork infuriated me. I started to use Twitter more than previous years, as it encouraged me to talk more about what I was doing rather than keeping it to myself.
I’ve grown very frustrated with social media and how tools that originally were created to help me keep in contact with friends have now become time suckers for boredom, where I am gamed in order to click more. Let me be clear, engagement is not a good metric. If it was, we’d be giving heroin to heroin addicts in order to sell more needles. Last year I weened off social media. I felt better, but also isolated. Just because I was free, didn’t change much. Others were using it. I no longer gained news from friends about engagements, babies and other life changes. It made me realise I was too reliant on social media for friends updates. I started trying harder – organising Skype calls; making more effort to hang out with friends. Progress was slow but fruitful.
In 2017, I used RescueTime to track my Internet usage. What was I spending time doing? What were my anti-patterns? Setup was easy – I installed an app on my phone and an app on my laptop. I let them know exactly what I was doing for the greater good. I only use the free version, so I am limited in the data I can obtain for that year. In the last three months, despite taking 3 weeks of vacation, I spent the majority of my time in a code editor (58hrs); the terminal (34hrs); my inbox (30hrs); google hangouts (22hrs). In the latter quarter, I was most productive – software development took 40% of my time; communication 15%; learning 10% and writing 7%. The remainder involved distractions. That’s something to work on. In particular, I’d like to spend more time on my computer learning and writing. Entertainment and reading news sites appear to now be my biggest time suckers. Social media is no longer a time sucker, but I still don’t feel like I’m doing the things I want to – learning and writing. That’s something I want to work on this year.
So if 2017 was the year I won back against social media, what do I want to gain from this year? I want to rediscover my love for the web. I want to focus on using apps that help me become more productive and more creative and that are a joy to use without feeling like they are leeching off time I could be using elsewhere.
I don’t want to use a tool, where the main goal of that tool is to get me to use it more. I want to use a tool that fits into my life.
- write – I’ll be using WordPress; Medium.com as well as my old fashioned notebook. My hope is to complete these things.
- learn – this year I’ll be focusing heavily on learning Chinese.
- use Pinterest to collect ideas and thoughts to help me write and on target for doing the things I love
- talk more – look inward at what I care about and forge conversations (preferably in the real world) to help cultivate those thoughts.
- change – change is good and I sure as hell need some.
In 2018, I want to look inwards and achieve something over than hundreds of likes.